I just had to get out of the house for some sunshine and fresh air on this beautiful afternoon, so I drove out to the Green Cay (pronounced “key”) Wetlands, a filter marsh west of Boynton Beach, FL. The Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department has built a nature center and a 1.5 mile elevated walkway through a combination of marsh and tropical islands, managed by the Palm Beach County Department of Parks and Recreation. It’s a great place to walk and observe water birds, although the nearby Wakodahatchee Wetlands generally has a more concentrated and diverse population. (Also a lot more retired people power-walking.)
Of course I took pictures. You can click on the images to enlarge most of them.
As I entered the wetlands, Mrs. and Mr. Painted Bunting greeted me from the feeder next to the walkway.
A small flock of White Ibis were taking their last shot at some yummy worms and grubs beneath a Pond Cypress tree.
There was a large congregation of oddly-marked, very small ducks at the Wood Duck box.
This Star Spider insisted on being photographed.
Once more for luck. We used to call these guys “crab spiders.” It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered that refers to a whole genus — and not the one this guy belongs to. We live and learn.
This American Bittern was doing its best to be invisible, but that didn’t stop a horde of noisy passers-by from stopping and commenting. The bird weathered it all very well. I could still see the crowd of well-wishers 10 minutes later from much farther down the walkway. Most of the birds at Green Cay and Wakodahatchee are used to people, and will allow you to get much closer than usual. That’s partly due to the elevated walkways, which put visitors well above the level where predators usually lurk. Move slowly and wear neutral colors, and they pretty much ignore you unless you look like a Marsh Hawk.
Mr. Blue-winged Teal was looking dapper in the light from the setting sun.
Mrs. Teal was looking pretty sharp, too.
This American Coot was nicely lighted by the blue sky, giving it a different look. The spots are water droplets.
Duck Potato. I’ve eaten many a root from these plants, It was a staple of the Seminoles and Miccosukees back before they became alligator wrestlers and proprietors of gaming establishments. Many a Duck Potato appeared on early settler’s plates, as well. It’s a starchy tuber, rather like Yucca or — a potato.
The Teals at home, dabbling.
Another look at the Mister’s racy paint job.
Lit by the low sun, this Common Moorhen looks anything but.
Elderberry flowers are gorgeous, but the buds have their own charm.
Beauty is where you find it, even in half-dead fern fronds.
It’s unusual to see a Greenback Heron (or Little Green Heron, or whatever they’re being called this week) actually standing in the water. A combination of sunset and north light shows this guy’s colors beautifully.
Mixed light brings out the subtle grays, browns and pinks of this Common Coot, as well.
This male Redwing was so busy signifyin’ about his territory and ladies that I was able to walk to within about four feet.
This Greenback is with the program, keeping its feet dry. North light overcomes the greens with a beautiful blue wash.
And that was pretty much it. A nice walk, some pretty birds, and some decent photos. Altogether I saw or heard a Northern Harrier, Tricolored Herons, Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, a Wood Stork, numerous Anhingas, a Double-Crested Cormorant, a Pileated Woodpecker, several Limpkins, a lone female Ruddy Duck, Pie-billed Grebes, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and the birds pictured here. Oddly, a number of common perching birds that I would have expected, including Pine Warblers, Northern Mockingbirds and Crows weren’t in evidence today. Must have been serving dinner elsewhere.