Friday, April 28th
One of my cousins is having a 70th birthday party tomorrow and I have finally been able to get away from work, so here I am down in sunny Florida. My great planning called for me to fly down to Fort Lauderdale and arrive early in the day and do some birding in that area before heading a little further north. Naturally, I didn't make this clear to my travel agent and was surprised to discover that my plane wasn't leaving until 1 PM! I arrived in time to get my rental car and drive up to Boynton Beach in time to check in to the hotel and then go to my cousins' for dinner. I figured that I would get a few of the Florida egrets on the way - but that was not to be either. Picked up Boat-tailed Grackle, European Starling, Mourning Dove, Rock Dove, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. On the way to my cousins' I did add a White Ibis. Not a very impressive list for Florida (or anywhere else), but did have a nice evening with my cousins and other relatives that I had not seen in quite some time.
Decided to get some early morning birding in today. Didn't see anything spectacular on my way to Loxahatchee NWR - but did see a Belted Kingfisher on a wire.
Loxahatchee is located on the last remaining part of the northern Everglades. The refuge is actually on land leased to the Federal Government and the lease is coming due. News stories down here report that sugar cane farmers want to develop the land. This is causing a bit of a controversy.
My plans for this trip were to concentrate on photographing birds and not pay too much attention to birding. But as soon as I entered the Cypress Trail, I started hearing warblers. How could I pass up the opportunity to look for them? The first ones I saw were American Redstarts, then I saw something with a lot of yellow on its throat - couldn't get a good look at first but later did identify a magnificent Yellow-throated Warbler. Also saw a Blackpoll Warbler and then later, on the way out, I picked up a Common Yellowthroat and a Gray Catbird.
The woods were filled with bird song. I heard and later saw Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals. Heard but did not see Red-shouldered Hawk, Mourning Doves, and Barred Owl. The Cypress Trail is really quite attractive. The trees are covered with different lichens - greens, grays, and even red. A sign pointed out that something I thought was Spanish Moss was actually a lichen - Old Man's Beard Lichen. I didn't have a mirror so I couldn't make a comparison to myself. (Of course, there also was a lot of genuine Spanish Moss.)
After walking through the Cypress Area, I took a walk along part of the Swamp Trail. This area was also filled with bird noises of a different kind. Lots of the strange calls of the Common Moorhen and many, many clucks and calls from the Boat-tailed Grackles. As soon as I started walking along the trail, I saw a Great Blue Heron and right behind it was a Little Blue Heron. A little further away, I saw the white immature Little Blue. And there were the Boat-tailed Grackles (click for picture) - numerous, raucous, but I do like them. Lots of Common Moorhens were paddling in the water. Someone said that a Purple Gallinule was in his scope, but when I looked it was gone. I did get to see one a little later. An Osprey flew overhead - I was surprised to see a Sandhill Crane in the reeds. It was almost, but not quite, in full adult plumage. Watched some female Mallards - I tried making one into a Mottled Duck, but couldn't. Heard some calls overhead and looked up in time to see a couple of Black-necked Stilts.
Naturally there were plenty of Anhingas. Saw several more later. I passed an alligator that was halfway out of the water and then another one. I vowed not to take any pictures of alligators on this trip and after watching them briefly, walked on. The trail was buzzing with the sounds of some incredibly bright green beetles (?) and there were countless dragonflies along the trail.
Then stopped to watch a number of American Coots in the water. I stopped to talk with a girl who was looking at a grasshopper. She was from Germany and was amazed at the insects and animal life we have here. So was I. It was getting close to the time that I had to leave for the birthday party so, although I had not spent much time here, I turned around and headed back to the car. Along the way I watched a female cardinal and took time to discover that the little bird flitting in the bushes was a Common Yellowthroat. A Green Heron that flew overhead was a nice addition to my trip list. A young boy stopped me and asked if I had seen anything good. I started talking about the Sandhill Crane and a couple of the other birds but he interrupted and asked if I had seen any alligators. I pointed to one and he seemed happy.
I stopped to talk with a woman back in the parking lot by the Cypress Trail. She said she had just seen a pair of Yellow-billed Cuckoos. I searched a little while but was unable to find them. As I approached my car, I came upon another alligator. This one had green vegetation on its head and back so I forgot about my no alligator photos promise and snapped away.
Then back to the motel to change and then on to the party - Had a very nice time there.
On to Loxahatchee on Sunday
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Copyright © 2000 Richard L. Becker