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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Florida Trip - Day 4

Gray-headed Swamphen
            We started this day with an encore visit to Markham Park one last time exploring the area for the Western Spindalis. Yet again we found a flock of Spot-breasted Orioles but no Spindalis.

             The Monk Parakeets were seen and heard again making their raucous calls. Painted and Indigo buntings added more color to the day but we finally gave up on the Western Spindalis and regulated ourselves in a northerly direction to Green Cay Wetlands and Nature Center in Boynton Beach. 
            We had visited this place in 2013 and found the LaSagra's Flycatcher. But back then, we did not see one Gray-headed Swamphen. The swamphen is an introduced species that is quickly expanding its range and on this visit to Green Cay we found 11 of them and probably missed a lot more. In the nature center was an Eastern Screech-Owl named Oliver that the kids just love.

             Green Cay Nature Center is the Broward County's newest nature center that overlooks 100 acres of constructed wetland habitat. The wetland features 1.5 miles of elevated boardwalk. The boardwalk provides great viewing and photo opportunities.
Tricolored Heron

American Coot

Common Gallinule
          We also found Mottled Ducks and most of the herons (no Bitterns). A reported Chuck-Wills-Widow was in the area but we dipped on that one.
Mottled Ducks - notice the black gape

Wood storks were also in large numbers and a few Purple Gallinules
Wood Stork
Wood Stork wearing his black hoodie
Young Purple Gallinule
          And here is a photo quiz for all you duck lovers.
Quiz Bird

Green Heron
             We then choose to go to lunch at Panera which motivated us to press on and journey to Loxahatchee NWR.

          Loxahatchee is a great spot to find Snail Kites and this year was no exception. The Everglade Snail Kite is a bird of prey with a very particular appetite: it feeds almost exclusively on apple snails, a freshwater mollusk that occurs in Central and South Florida wetlands including the Loxahatchee NWR. The bird's curved beak is slightly off-center to allow it to easily extract the snail from its spiraled shell.
           Well it didn't take too long to find one of these kites. Take a look at that hooked bill.
Snail Kite - 1st year - notice the band on the leg

Same individual as above

Close up of White Ibis

I believe this is a Swamp Lily
           Another great bird to see at the refuge is the Limpkin which we did in fact spot.


After a satisfying visit to Loxahatchee we moved on to Wakodahatchee Wetlands preserve.

          This is similar to Green Cay Wetlands in that was created on 50 acres of unused utility land and transformed into a recreation wetlands open to the public with a three-quarter mile boardwalk that crosses between open water pond areas, emergent marsh areas, shallow shelves, and islands with shrubs and snags to foster nesting and roosting. It is a photographers dream. You can get really close to nesting Cormorants, Herons and Anhingas.
Double-crested Cormorant with two young in nest
White Ibis, Cormorants, Great Blues and Anhingas plus a 4 foot long iguana not visible

Immature White Ibis
          At this point we called it a day and headed north and stayed at the Best Western in Palm Beach Lakes. Tomorrow we head even further north up the eastern coast to St Sebastian Preserve State Park and Merritt Island NWR.

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