Nature Walks – Whacked out at Wako

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Cattle Egret

Nature Walks – Whacked out at Wako, 04.05.18

Ah, another day, another wetlands preserve.  This time I headed to Wakodahatchee for the first time in about a month!  The last time I was there the parking situation was very tight; today, it wasn’t a problem.  Apparently, a lot of our temporary visitors have returned to northern climes once again, after the recent Passover and Easter holiday weekend.

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Fuzzy baby Wood Storks

This time of the year, Wakodahatchee is a baby nursery for birds, lots of noisy, smelly baby birds.  The local Wood Stork nurseries were filled with half-grown fuzzy youngsters, sometimes all joining in on a chorus as their patient parents arrive to the feed the next generation.

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Grooming Great Egret

Half-grown Anhingas were preening themselves in the sunshine, perched on the pond apple trees.  The trees have recently burst into their full greenery, with some displaying their characteristic yellow blossoms and tiny green fruit.  The fruit eventually mature to the size of small mangos.  When they drop into the ponds, sometimes you will see turtles pushing them around through the dark water, while attempting to nibble at the sweet fruit.  In the past, humans have also enjoyed pond apples.

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When waiting to be fed, sometimes these young Wood Storks bob in a noisy chorus until one of the parents feeds them. It can be quite deafening at times but is a positive sign for the future of this singular stork.

There were no alligator sightings today, although I looked carefully at all the places I have noticed them in the past.  Most of the activity was from birds, with birds flying overhead, diving into the water, swimming or wading.  It is a busy time for the adults keeping their young fed.

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Great Blue Heron couple

I noticed one Tri-colored Heron preening himself intently while sitting in a huge leather fern.  With his turquoise breeding color around his beak and lovely fluffy plumage, he was obviously looking for a partner.

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Then I noticed some young Cormorants swimming and diving, carrying up twigs and bits of weed to the surface and then hopping up into an old pond apple trunk.  I suppose they were practicing their hunting skills or do birds play?

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Double-crested Cormorant. Notice the hooked beak which differentiates it from the needle-nosed Anhinga.

The male iguanas have all reverted back to their normal green coloring from the breeding orange.  There were some very large iguanas draped high in trees and dozing in the sunshine.

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Before I left the sun was dimmed a bit by growing clouds.  Soon the spring thunderstorms will begin once more and the official “dry” season will be over.  Just as well; the water levels of the local ponds are down quite a bit.  And I saw a lot of crispy looking vegetation over at Green Cay yesterday.  It is not unusual to have wildfires out in the Everglades at this time of the year.

Here are more photos:

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Young Anhingas

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A handsome Great Blue Heron.

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A Black-necked Stilt. Look at those legs!

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Anhinga and a Double-crested Cormorant. Two very different birds, but both are excellent swimmers.

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Some of the native plants used to purify the waters.

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A portion of a Wood Stork rookery. Other birds, including Anhingas, Cormorants, Herons, and Egrets also raise their young within these pond apple rookeries (if that is the proper name!).

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The heart of the wetland preserve. The taller trees are growing on a levee that separates the ponds. It doesn’t stop the alligators from traveling over the embankment to reach the other side. The entire wetlands are surrounded by high wire fencing to keep the alligators in. Alligators are still capable of climbing over chain-link fencing.

That’s it for today, folks.  I hope you enjoy the upcoming weekend.  And thank you for visiting Blue Dragon Journal!

Namaste,

“Sunny” VaCoupe

© All Rights Reserved, Elizabeth Ayres Escher, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com