Nature Walks – Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve
Well today I got to see first-hand some of the damage done by man to the Everglades in the early 20th century. The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve is located only minutes from my new digs in Boynton Beach, so it’s going to become my go-to place for nature, birds, photography and a bit of quiet.
I was a bit shocked to see all of the canal work that had been done, that was the result of government intervention (we all know how that goes…) in the late 1800’s after some disastrous hurricanes. The Everglades were systematically divided up, filled with canals and drained. Untold damage had been done to the natural flushing and cleansing systems of the Glades and Lake Okeechobee. The Preserve was bought from the State in order to preserve and reclaim some of the natural environment. It still bears the scars and equipment from the old days when the land was farmed. Farm land is still located on the edge of the Preserve, to the east. Indeed, this narrow patch of “civilization” on Florida’s SE coastline is bordered by the Glades and Hwy 441 on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, with not that much land in between, but sure a lot of people squeezed into communities.
After arriving at the Visitor’s Center, I took a walk on the .4 mile Cypress Swamp Trail, a nice boardwalk that goes into the woods. I’ve never seen such large ferns. There were leather ferns that had to be 10 feet tall and many other species that I’m not familiar with yet. The flora here is very different from the coastal strand and oak / pine hammock that I found in Northern Florida.
Out on the Marsh Walk, the subdivided marsh was defined by walk ways and canals. There were lots of birds there: Great Blue Heron, Night Heron, Great and Lesser Egrets, Red-winged Black Birds, Cormorant, ducks, coots and moorhens, Roseate Spoonbill, Ibis, and assorted other species. Still learning. I seem to be turning into a twitcher… a bird-watcher! Not going to do the list thing though. A good pair of binoculars would be an asset on these walks… there are miles of walking or bike-riding trails, plus a 5-mile canoe trail. The preserve has a boat-ramp for canoes and kayaks. I’m not sure if motorized boats are allowed, although I saw an air boat roaring through the distant marsh at one point. They do make a racket.
I was very excited to have an area where I can get out and walk so close to where I live, without having to venture out into the more heavily traveled areas. I will also visit some of the fishing piers and state parks which involve more driving.
And, last but certainly not least, I saw turtles and five gators today. The turtles were gently tooling around the canals and ponds, while the gators were all sunning at the edge of the water. Lots to see!
Here’s some more photos:
Well, hope y’all enjoyed that brief tour of the wildlife preserve. I’m glad to be settled down and in one place and being able to write these reports.
BTW, a Southern accent is a rare commodity in these parts. You’re more likely to hear a New York or Jersey accent!
Enjoy your weekend and take a deep breath… the U.S. of A and its real rulers are up to their old shenanigans, again with the missile attack on Syria. Really stupid move there.
All Rights Reserved, 2012 – 17, Eliza Ayres, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com
Photos all taken at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve, Boynton Beach, Florida