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.
We then made the short loop around the boardwalk, which traverses a cypress swamp.
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:
A male Anhinga dried his wings along the path, sporting breeding season garb– green goggles and punk head plumes:
I’m sure that prospective mates think he’s gorgeous:
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:
The bright sun heightened the color of this Little Blue Heron:
The Great Egrets had developed green ceres and nuptial plumes:
Our next stop was at Green Cay Wetlands, where a Limpkin was much easier to find:
A Tricolored Heron cast its reflection on a surface splattered with duckweed:
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:
I had already stowed the camera in its case on the back seat floor, and was lucky to have a rather prolonged photo session:
A final parting shot: