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October 2011
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Chapel Trail Nature Center
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 6:25 am

In an earlier post I described the creation of Chapel Trail Nature Center and its near destruction when vandals set the boardwalk on fire shortly before its planned grand opening. It had been open less than a year when Hurricane Wilma toppled most of the boardwalk. Earlier this month, soon after we returned to Florida from our second home in Illinois, we visited the preserve, located nearby in Pembroke Pines. It was a rather dull morning for birding. There had been plenty of rain, and flood water had diluted out the fish so that the long-legged waders were no longer concentrated there. We started out late and it became progressively more hot and muggy.

The resident Sandhill Crane greeted us at the parking lot…

Sandhill Crane 2-20110925

…and posed next to a fire hydrant…

Crane at Fire Hydrant 2-20110925

 ..but otherwise it seemed that the paraglider overhead and the insects and flowers around us would be the best sightings of the day:

Power Paraglider 2-20110925

Spiny Orb Weaver:

Spiny Orb Weaver - Gasteracantha cancriformis 20110925

This photo was marred by a single bokeh that took on the appearance of a full moon, but I decided that it looked in balance with the image of the Swamp Lily:

Swamp Lily with bokeh 20110925

There were two of these little green-eyed blue-bodied black-tipped dragonflies. about 1 to 1 1/4 inch long– too small to be Eastern Pondhawks, so I at first was not sure of their ID. There is a midge on this one’s back. Interestingly, one species of dragonfly, Sympetrum, has antibodies against its midge parasite (Arrenurus planus). When the midge bites into the dragonfly, its piercing mouth parts turn bubble-like and the parasite dies. Midges are used to control certain insect pests (Reference).

Blue Dasher– look closely to see the midge, or click on the photo to see the note:

Blue Dasher with midge 20110925

A Green Darner rarely perches. This guy would not stop flying, but did hover in place long enough for me to get the center point focus on him. If I had planned this shot I would have increased shutter speed greatly:

Green Darner Dragonfly - Anax junius

The resident Red-shouldered Hawk watched us from it perch in a small tree:

Red-shouldered Hawk 20110323

A lone White Ibis flew overhead…

White Ibis in flight 20110925

…as did an Osprey:

Osprey 20110323

From the boardwalk, Mary Lou scanned the wetlands :

Chapel Trail boardwalk 20110925

A Great Egret was nicely back-lit by the early morning sun:

Great Egret 20110925

A Green Heron stood on the rail of floating boat dock at the far end of the boardwalk:

Green Heron 20110925

Then, the head of a Limpkin appeared above the marsh vegetation (I did not notice the two Purple Swamphens, out of focus behind it and to the right):

Limpkin with Purple Swamphens 20110925

The bird flew up and passed directly in front of us on the way to a roost in the small island:

Limpking in flight 3-20110925

Purple Swamphens seem to get more numerous every week at Chapel Trail. As we walked along the boardwalk, there were 2 to 3 in view at all times. We saw no gallinules or moorhens, which is a bit disturbing– their young are said to be food items for the invasive introduced swamphen:

Purple Swamphen 20110323

We also saw a half dozen Eastern Kingbirds:

Eastern Kingbird 2-20111005

Many of the Eastern Towhees that breed in far southern Florida have yellow rather than red eyes:

Eastern Towhee 2-20110411

A Common Yellowthroat foraged in the Red Maple leaves, already starting to change color:

Common Yellowthroat in Red Maple 2-20111005

The yellowthroat was joined by a Prairie Warbler:

Prairie Warbler joins yellowthroat 20111005

Yesterday morning we got out just before a big rainstorm curtailed our walk. The leaves of the Red Maples had already gone from red to brown. We found that Palm Warblers had arrived in good numbers. They become so numerous during the winter that locals call them “Florida Sparrows.” During fall migration, the brightly colored eastern Yellow Palm Warblers cross paths with the dull western form, and winter more to the west, from northern Florida into east Texas.

This is a representative of the dull Western race, much more commonly seen than the bright eastern form:

Palm Warbler western 20111016

Despite the dark skies, this Boat-tailed Grackle’s iridescent coat reflected many hues of blue:

Boat-tailed Grackle 20111016

It was starting to drizzle as a Mottled Duck flew overhead:

Mottled Duck 20111016

On the way out, I stopped to photograph a Little Blue Heron that was walking along the canoe dock:

Little Blue Heron 20111016

A Marsh Rabbit watched us warily as we exited the boardwalk.. This semi-aquatic race of Cottontail has a darker coat and very short ears:

Marsh Rabbit 20111016