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03/04/10
Birding Western Palm County
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 5:00 pm

The western part of Palm County has some great birding spots. All are accessible within an hour’s drive of our home in western Broward County. This past weekend, two of my grammar school classmates, Ron and Jack, and their spouses were visiting Florida, and Mary Lou and I had the opportunity to get together with them for a leisurly dinner at Outback Steak House in West Palm Beach.

It’s hard to believe that seventy years ago, Ron and I were in kindergarten together, and Jack joined us in first grade. We were together all the way through graduation from St Mary High School in Rutherford, New Jersey. We had a grand time swapping stories.

Mary Lou and I spent the night in a Lake Worth motel, and used their visit as an excuse to bird all day on the way up, and all morning on the way back home.

Our first objective was Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. This is where both Mary Lou and I saw our lifer Snail Kite and Limpkin on our first visit, in 2002.

We arrived early, and first looked for the Great Horned Owl that was nesting near the visitor’s center. One owl was on the nest with only the tip of its tail visible. Had it not been for a friendly photographer who was already there, we might not have found the other adult.

The owl was hidden in drooping Spanish Moss, and only an occasional gust of wind lifted the veil to expose the bird, which kept its eyes closed for the entire time of our visit:

Great Horned Owl 20100228

We then made the short loop around the boardwalk, which traverses a cypress swamp.

A Northern Cardinal sang in the deep shade cast by the newly leafing cypress trees, providing a “picture postcard” image:

Northern Cardinal 20100228

An inquisitive Blue-gray Gnatcatcher poked its head out of the gloom:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 20100228

Although we saw a number of other birds, notably two Pileated Woodpeckers and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, distance and poor ambient light kept me from getting any good photos. We moved on to the Marsh Trail, spending over two hours walking  along the levees that separate several wetland impoundments.

An Osprey flew low overhead:

Osprey 2-20100228

A male Anhinga dried his wings along the path, sporting breeding season garb– green goggles and punk head plumes:

Anhinga 20100228

I’m sure that prospective mates think he’s gorgeous:

Anhinga 2-20100228

We looked for Limpkins, but were not successful, until I saw a slightly darker form amid the reeds. It was a nesting Limpkin, a really lucky find:

Limpkin on Nest 20100228

The bright sun heightened the color of this Little Blue Heron:

 Little Blue Heron 20100228

The Great Egrets had developed green ceres and nuptial plumes:

Great Egret 20100228

On our way out, a male American Kestrel looked at us warily before flying off:

Male Kestrel 20100228

Our next stop was at Green Cay Wetlands, where a Limpkin was much easier to find:

Limpkin 20100228  

An American Coot showed off his red frontal shield, coordinated with his eye color:

American Coot 20100228

The Yellow-rumped Warblers will be leaving soon. This one had a lively step:

Yellow-rumped Warbler 20100228

A Northern Harrier, with owl-like facial discs, worked her way methodically over the wetlands:

Northern Harrier 20100228

There were numerous Glossy Ibises. The whitish line around the base of their bills develops as breeding season approaches:

Glossy Ibis 20100228

A Tricolored Heron cast its reflection on a surface splattered with duckweed:

Tricolored Heron 2-20100228

As I was starting up the car to depart from the lot, this Pine Warbler landed on a pine at eye level right in front of the car, doing what it does best, gleaning insects in needle clumps at the tips of the branches:

Pine Warbler 20100228

The beauty of this little bird really surprised me, as I usually saw them high up and against the sky:

Pine Warbler 4-20100228

I had already stowed the camera in its case on the back seat floor, and was lucky to have a rather prolonged photo session:

Pine Warbler 3-20100228

A final parting shot:

Pine Warbler 5-20100228

3 Responses to “Birding Western Palm County”

  1. Richard Says:
    Great stuff as always. We had a blue-gray gnatcatcher spend the night with us back when we were getting freezing temperatures: it was very happy to be released the next day. I’m not a birder (yet) but I definitely appreciate the photos and information.
  2. phil Says:
    Some stunnin pictures there Ken. Hard to pick a favourite but the owl will take a lot of beating.
  3. gwendolen Says:
    Wonderful photos, Ken. I love the Horned owl and the Anhinga.

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