Nature Walk, 26 October 2017 – Loxahatchee Redux
It’s been a long time since I last visited the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve. It’s too exposed and hot there during the long days of summer. Today, when I woke up, the temperature was a chilly (for Florida) 58 degrees F — perfect walking weather! I loaded up the car and hit the road.
When I arrived at the entrance to the preserve, there was a guard on duty, the first one I’ve seen in months. Visitors are required to pay or have on hand a pass. I own a Golden Eagle pass so went in free as usual. Traffic at the preserve has definitely picked up. There were two buses with students and a couple of small shuttles (golf carts) for visitors. I ignored the commotion and walked on the well-known paths looking for photographic subjects.
One thing I’ve noticed about Florida, flowers bloom here all year round. Some of the marsh flowers are very tiny, but the ground was carpeted with blooms.
I saw some typical marsh birds, egrets, and herons, coots, marsh hens, as well as some Limpkins. I also saw and photographed what looks like a Kingfisher, although not the Belted species that I’m familiar with from northern climes. I’ll look the critter up in my little bird book later. I also noticed a pair of osprey who appeared to be setting up their nest in a large tree in the center of the marsh.
The water levels in the preserve were very high. I kept a sharp eye out for alligators and other reptiles but did not see any… except one empty turtle shell. The walks follow alongside canals that were dredged years ago to drain the swamp and control water levels. The preserve doesn’t look very natural in appearance; nevertheless, it is a home to many birds and other creatures. Beyond the great canal on the western boundary, you can see the grassy everglades stretching for miles… at least until the edge of the agricultural lands that were carved out of the marshland and now grow sugar, corn and other vegetables. The Everglades are now but a shadow of their former self.
I probably walked two or three miles, periodically flushing hidden birds from the wild grasses on the edges of the path. Many of the wading birds are masters of camouflage until they break cover.
It was a pleasure to be walking out under bluebird skies with nary a cloud in the sky except in the far eastern horizon. Autumn is firmly established here as we experience this latest cold front. A tropical depression or storm may be on its way later in the week, but who knows?
I’ll enjoy being here now that the weather has moderated quite a bit. Unless one loves humid heat, Florida summers can be exhausting. The rainy season doesn’t seem to be slowing down too much either, although now we have days between storms, instead of hours.
Here are some more photos from my little jaunt:
© All Rights Reserved, Elizabeth Ayres Escher, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com
Photo Credits: Eliza Ayres