Sunday, May 15, 2016

Wakodahatchee Wetlands Bonanza - 04 May 2016

I then hopped on the Florida Turnpike and headed north about an hour’s drive to Delray Beach, Fl and Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The 56-acre wastewater treatment facility houses the state’s largest Wood Stork rookery, and the ~½ mile boardwalk wends its way through several ponds and a waterbird paradise.

As I entered the boardwalk from the parking lot I espied a Green Heron looking intently just a few feet away. Reason? Chicks nearby!

Just around the corner a Black-necked Stilt was foraging next to the boardwalk. I was able to get some nice closeups, even seeing its bill below the water! Its mate was sitting on a nest of mud just a few yards away. But a number of people were photographing it, so I'd have to come back when there's room to set up my scope for digiscoping. So, I would just have to settle for some quick photos with the D7100 and 300/2.8 VRII.

I couldn't resist getting a nice portrait of an American Coot with the glowing backdrop of the morning sunrise.

The Wood Stork rookery was hopping with weeks-old chicks begging for food and adults actively building new nests. Anhingas, Double-crested Cormorants, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Glossy Ibis and Tricolored Herons were all actively nesting in the shrubby islands scattered throughout the ponds. I didn’t know where to start.

A pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were nearby and also too cute to resist.

I stopped and asked someone if any Purple Swamphens were being seen here. He said, "Not recently. But, check at the end of the boardwalk where some Purple Gallinules were seen recently." So, I walked to the edge of one dike and found a found a pair of Purple Swamphens grazing on grass about 50 yds. away. Some long-distance digiscoping would be required to capture these birds.

To the majority of birders around here I think the Purple Gallinules and Purple Swamphens are easily overlooked. I would find several of each during my walk. This bird was close enough photograph w/ the D7100.

Not much distance away were several Purple Gallinules. One was close enough to dispense with the digiscoping equipment and just use the 300/2.8 VRII.

Tricolored Herons were nesting nearby. Three little chicks were, um, adorable?

I then asked someone if any Least Bitterns were sighted recently. They hadn’t seen any in weeks, so they suggested I drive 2-hours to Vierra Wetlands. I thanked them, walked 20 feet and found a Least Bittern sitting out in the open next to a large Arrowroot stand.

I would spend the next 20 minutes or so digiscoping the bird at point blank range, and trying to take 4K videos, but boardwalk activity kept jarring the video recording.

I returned and was able to digiscope the Black-necked Stilts that were nesting just a few feet out from the boardwalk.

More Purple Gallinules and Purple Swamphens were spotted.

A few Glossy Ibis were foraging close enough for photos, including this non-breeding adult. I found some young nestlings sporting striped bills. I’d never seen ibis nestlings, so it was a treat to see the white patches on the head and stripes on the bills - the field guides fail to show this.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were flying about, and provided some nice portraits. 

So did nesting Red-winged Blackbirds

The young birds stole the show, however. Hatchling Green Herons, Tricolored Herons, Wood Storks, Anhingas, Common Gallinules - all were adorable.

A Great Blue Heron resting in the palm trees made a nice portrait in texture.

Anhingas are just the coolest feathered dinosaurs...Their babies look a bit phalic-y.

As I left the boardwalk area I managed a closing shot of Blue Jay next to the car, and saw a pair of Brown Thrashers to close out the Miami escapade.

I drove back to Miami and got into the hotel just moments before thunderstorms opened up on the city. We would lose cable signal just as I was watching the Cubs-Pirates game.  The score?
C3-PO… No kidding. May the 4th Be With You!


Linda said...

Beautiful photos, Jerry! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

Cathy Carroll said...

I love the Purple Gallinule's feet in the photo with it standing on the branches. Then the crazy looking baby tri-colored heron's, then the Common Gallinule with baby. Looks the the baby needs to grow into its feet. The most stately bird is the anhinga on her nest. I'm forgetting one, but all great photos.

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