Green Cay (Again), Boynton Beach, FL

February 13, 2012 at 5:47 am | Posted in For the Family, The Wild Side | Leave a comment
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Yesterday, after changing our original plans to visit to Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge due to their biggest event of the year (I’m not one for big crowds when it comes to wildlife viewing), my husband, son and I decided to take a walk around Green Cay again. Sure, I know what you’re thinking… “You don’t like crowds but you bring your kid everywhere with you?” Well, my son is better behaved than most adults and if you need silence from him you can toss his some Cheerios. I still have yet to figure out how to get blabbing people on cell phones tone it down. But I digress…

Immediately, I was happy with our destination decision. I had been wanting to see a Purple Gallinule for quite some time, and here one was, about 2 feet away from us. I was already thrilled that I was able to check something off my “never seen” list.

While the Woodstorks were nowhere to be found today, the Great Blue Heron we out and about.  Just as I had seen in Wakodahatchee, they were nesting. I’m eager to return over the next few weeks to see if I can get a peek at the babies as they hatch! I could only imagine that they would be goofy, awkward, “so ugly they’re cute” hatchlings.

Just as they always seem to be, the Tri-Colored Herons were all over. These little birds are always entertaining and never shy. They’ll put on a show from just a few feet away. My husband had a great time showing our son one fishing.

Another bird I have been wanting to see but never seem to catch sight of is the Little Blue Heron. Check another off my list for the day! These little birds are usually pretty shy, which is likely why I hadn’t seen them before. They’re quite pretty, similar in size to Tri-Colors, and from far away it’s easy to get them confused. Since you don’t always get to see them from the front to determine who’s who, an easy way to tell is the color on the face. (Tri’s have yellow, Little Blue’s are dark)

As you can tell, we came during lunch time. This Great Egret was on the prowl for anything it could get its beak on. Of course, while they weren’t busy eating…

… they were busy cruising the wetlands looking for the next hot spot to hunt in. They’re always an impressive sight to see at flight.

Speaking of taking flight and meals, we kept on seeing flocks of birds take off together like these Ibis and Blue-Winged Teal Ducks. Something was clearly concerning these birds. Once we caught sight of what was scaring them off we clearly understood their concern.

This Red Shouldered Hawk had all the smaller birds feathers ruffled. Quite understandable, there were a few times I worried for the survival of my sons toy as it swooped over the boardwalk, sometimes so close to people I wondered if they could feel the breeze of it’s wings. This bird was a persistant hunter. While I never caught a sight of it flying off with something clutced in its talons, it did disappear several times. I was disappointed I didn’t get to see it fly off with a trophy, but thankful my son didn’t have to witness it flying off with an adorable Swamp Bunny.

On the opposite side of the park, another Red Shouldered Hawk rested as it was perched above a bare tree. I honestly hadn’t noticed it at first, distracted by another bird. Once I hear it shriek though I was drawn right to it. We had also seen one along the Turnpike on a post on the way to the Wetlands. With January being the beginning of their nesting season, it’s no wonder they seem to be out in increased numbers.

Our first time around the boardwalk, this big guy was out trying to get what little sun and heat he could. With a cold front moving in (cold for South Florida, that is), I had a feeling he might be getting some company from other alligators trying to keep warm.

I guessed right. Our second time around, this big girl had crawled up to keep warm in the now shining sun as well. Sure, I usually refer to most of the animals as “he”, so how is it that I know this is a female?

No, I didn’t run out and lift her little gator skirt. This photo of the same gator from a different angle reveals my secret. What I didn’t notice until I got home and started messing with my pictures from the day was that this girl wasn’t alone. Look closely above her head. See that? That’s right – this is a proud momma gator sunning with her little ones. I’ve always been amazed at what great, nurturing mothers alligators make. They’re not the beasts they’ve been made out to be.

These two, however, were quite the beasts! I was watching two Gallinule’s run across the water after each other when I caught this at the right moment. Yes, I said “two”, and I know you only see one bird. At this very moment the second bird caught up with the first and literally ran over him, trampled on him like a stepping stone, and shoved him under water! Hey, it made my son laugh. 🙂

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