Friday, July 22, 2011

Florida: On the Boardwalk

Last year I posted an entry here celebrating to wildlife to be found on two artificially-constructed wetlands in Delray, Florida: Wakodahatchee Wetlands and the Green Cay Nature Center. My final entry for, or at least relating to, 2010 finds Eileen and I back again for a November visit, and presents another gallery of the birds and other creatures we saw at these two sites.

Proof that you can have megafaunal animals in an artificial landscape: the American alligator (Alligator mississipiensis).

The Florida softshell (Apalone ferox) is one of the two common turtles at Wakodahatchee - the other is the Florida Red-bellied turtle  (or cooter) (Pseudemys nelsoni).

This photo of a male Common Green Darner (Anax junius) isn't the sharpest possible, but it is the first time I have photographed a member of the family Aeshnidae (which says more about my status as a newcomer to dragonflies than anything else). Note the vertical posture, apparently typical of darners.

This is a dragonfly I have photographed before, a male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis).

The Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) seem to have taken over at  Wakodahatchee since my last visit. Once a species I glimpsed only in the distance or flying over (if at all), now they were busy shepherding lovely little troops of striped ducklings through the bulrushes.

 This is a young juvenile Black-bellied Whistling Duck, duller than the adult it will become but still graceful.

Large numbers of teal winter in south Florida. At Wakodahatchee the Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) is by far the commoner species. This is, however, a Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis).

I find it a bit tricky to tell non-flying winter-plumage Blue-wings from the less-numerous Green-winged Teals (like these), which probably says more about my birding skills than about their similarities. 

Adults, of course, are another matter.  This is a green-wing.

This is a young Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) in the plumage it first acquires after moulting out of its streaky juvenile feathering. Next year it will exchange this for the crisp black, white and grey of an adult.

A stolid little Green Heron (Butorides virescens) waits for something interesting to swim by.

A Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) pauses on the boardwalk...

While a Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) fishes in the reeds.  This is a good example of the illogicality of English bird names.  It is (now) in the same genus as the Snowy Egret, but it is not white as an adult so we call it a heron instead.

A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) catches some rays.

Roseate Spoonbills (Ajaia ajaja) are uncommon in freshwater wetlands like Green Cay, so I was very glad to see this one even if the light didn't show its colours off to best advantage.

Wakodahatchee is a great place to see the usually-shy Sora (Porzana carolina).  I have often seen severa of these little crakes on a single walk, feeding out in the open.

An American Coot (Fulica americana) and a winter-plumage Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) float side by side.

The gem of the wetland, for most people, is the lovely American Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica).  The upper bird is a juvenile.

A Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) works its way through the bulrushes.

The handsomely-marked Florida race of the Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus extimus) is the common Buteo in the southern part of the state. 

This Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) spent the day perching quietly in a thicket at Green Cay, close to a bird feeder set out for unsuspecting songbirds (who apparently weren't as unsuspecting as all that, because they gave the feeder a wide berth).

An Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) watches for insects from a favourite perch.

To finish off (and to end my entries on our 2010 travels), here is a plant: the rather startling American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana, Verbenaceae). Its berries can apparently be made into jelly - of a colour I cannot imagine!

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