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lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

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lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

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Thursday, 11 February 2010 20:42

Florida 2010 – III – Wakodahatchee, all in one

Although Wakodahatchee Wetlands is not the best place for getting great bird images, I spent my very first as well as very last day of my trip to Florida in this reserve. The reason, why Wakodahatchee is among of the most popular sites for birders and bird photographers in Miami area is the fact, that on a very small area one can watch many bird species from Divers to Egrets, Herons, Ibises, Pelicans, Passerines or Kingfisher very easily and from a close distance! Altogether the Wakodahatchee bird list counts more than 140 bird species!




Similar to nearby Green Cay Wetlands (map), is Wakodahatchee (map) a man-made system of shallow ponds with dense vegetation that and serve not only as a bird sanctuary but also as a natural waste water treatment facility – about 2 million gallons of highly treated water is pumped every day into the system from the nearby Water Reclamation Facility. In the leaflet you can read that the people are now giving something back to the nature and indeed – once in the past this place used to be an open prairie with natural wetlands, today you only see long wide roads cutting the land in rectangled system and making up cities of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach approximately 80 km north of Miami, which is the most natural reference point for Europeans.







The name Wakodahatchee comes from the language of indigenous Indian tribes and translates as “created waters” and this is exactly what Wakodahatchee as well as Green Cay Wetlands are – the man-made wetlands. 1D3_3638PS Both reserves have a system of watching platforms and wooden boardwalks erected approximately 1 – 2 meters above the water level. At first sight it might seem that Green Cay Wetlands that is in operation for a longer time, has an information centre and provides 2.5 km of boardwalks must be more interesting than Wakodahatchee that has only 1 km of boardwalks. Contrary is the case! At least during my early January visit all the experienced local birders and photographers flocked in Wakodahatchee that obviously provides more varied environments than Green Cay attracting variety of birds that can be observed from very close distances. Not only is the drawback of Green Cay that the birds are usually far to photograph, also the tighter fencing of the Green Cay boardwalks precludes to make pictures from low angle. It might seem funny but the interspaces in Wakodahatchee boardwalks` fencing make it possible to lie down onto the boardwalk and make pictures from low angle and believe or not – 1 meter makes a huge difference! While in both places you cannot make pictures from the water level (which is always the best!), the photographs I have made in Green Cay Wetlands are “not-to-be-presented” while Wakodahatchee provided some quite good “keepers”.








So what is it like in both places? As far as we could see during our visits, Green Cay was pretty poor bird-wise, mostly occupied by Common Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus), American Coot (Fulica americana) and Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga), Herons, Egrets and Ibises were seen mostly from a distance but I can imagine that the reserve can provide good numbers of Passerines during the migration.




Wakodahatchee was, at least for us, more pleasant place, everything is closer to the boardwalks, almost within grasp of the visitors and you also see more of the wildlife. Right at the entrance we were welcomed by a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), and the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) just beside was eating small turtle. After a few steps Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) lands onto the fencing right in front of us and it is so close that it does not fit into the viewfinder of my camera so I make few “portrait” shots. Beneath us the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) struggles through the dense reed…


Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) with chicks in the nest:



IMG_6309PSWe are going on…Anhingas build their nests in the bushes right beside the boardwalk and share their space with Cormorants; not far away we see Ibises wading the shallow waters and searching for something good with their long curved bills, American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is resting on open water just a stone cast, the Red-winged Blackbird (agelaius phoeniceus) is posing for my camera on a nearby reed stalk...the clucking of Common Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) and American Coots (Fulica americana) sound from all around and sometimes we catch a glimpse of the colourful Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica). After a while we notice the shiny-metal-blue coloured Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) sitting on the top of the fencing, marking his territory with its strange exotic call; it is very tame and let us come very close and even to pass by not farther than 1 meter! Next is the place where I spent most of the time in Wakodahatchee – the bushes where Anhingas and Great Blue Herons build their nests and hatch their chicks…and indeed, two Heron nestlings with their shaggy heads sometimes rise up to get feed from their parents and we have the chance to watch them for a little while. This also is a place where I made pictures of Anhinga eating fish and where the Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) showed up too. The Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyo), one of the shyest birds of Florida can also bee seen perching on a distant trees waiting for the right moment to catch a fish underneath…





The best is to wait till the evening and watch the birds during the sunset – Wood Storks (Mycteria americana) and flocks of Ibises and Egrets are returning to the reserve to overnight on the bushes. I really appreciated this time because it was one of the few opportunities to watch Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis), the birds that spend most of the day somewhere in the fields and around the roads, which are not the best places to watch birds. One day after the New Year we were “lucky” (?) – the reserve was closed but we left the car in front of the gate and made a short visit – it was like in a zoo – tens of Egrets, Ibises and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) roosted on the boardwalks and strange and exotic (for us) calls of hundreds birds sounded from the bushes and reeds all around us…


Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis):



I also met a few photographers at Wakodahatchee and I strongly recommend visiting their websites. Milo Burcham is very nice guy, great photographer and professional biologist from Alaska – he, among others, published his work in National Geographic. John Cornell is the experienced local wildlife photographer – check his website for beautiful pictures of the local avifauna; you will see how variegated the Florida wildlife is and maybe you decide to book the earliest flight to Miami.. ;-)

List of relevant articles about Florida

Florida 2010 – I – Anhinga, the snakebird

Florida 2010 – II – Pelican the bomber

Florida 2010 – IV – Osprey, Florida`s fisher

Florida 2010 – V – Waders – not a simple task!

Florida 2010 – VI – Florida`s woodpeckers

Florida 2010 – VII – J.N.D. Darling and chilly tropics

Florida 2010 – VIII – Little Estero Lagoon

Vultures of southern USA

Florida 2010 – IX – Sebastian Inlet State Park

Human – a friend or enemy?

Florida X - Egrets and Herons

Florida XI – close-up

Florida XII – Fort Desoto

Florida XIII – some more birds

Birds of Florida - Portfolio (article)

Portfolio - birds of Florida (photos)



Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 17:56
Comments (24)
  • Petr Bambousek  - Nezklamalo

    Ahoj Jirko, díky, žes to ještě stihnul. Nezklamalo ani místo, ani fotky. Líbí se mi, že jsou to takové jiné pohledy na Floridu a těší mě, že jsem ho v itineráři nevynechal. Uvidím, jak pochodím já. Mám trochu depku z těch přívalů sněhu u nás i na západním pobřeží USA a modlím se, aby se to umoudřilo. Díky za článek a měj se moc fajn. Až přijedu, bude tu ještě řada článků, tak budu mít, co číst :-)

  • Jirka Slama

    Ahoj, jeste jednou Petre, stastnou cestu a spoustu zaziku na Floride! Jsem zvedavy, co na Wakodahatchee uvidite a hlavne tedy ve Viera Wetlands ;-)

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