Exploring the Green Cay Wetlands

1/7/2019
Today was our traveling day to Orlando and we opted to stop at the Green Cay Wetlands on our drive north.
Green Cay Wetlands is a 100-acre nature preserve located north of Fort Lauderdale in Boynton Beach. The preserve was converted from farmland into a county water reclamation facility in 2004 and naturally filters millions of gallons of water each day.

Map Link to Green Cay Wetlands

Photograph of the Green Cay Wetlands

A raised boardwalk provides a 1.5 mile walk through several habitat types with outstanding access to many species of birds and close-ups of alligators and turtles.

Photograph of an American Alligator at the Green Cay Wetlands
American Alligator

According to ebird, over 250 bird species have been recorded here. The first bird we saw, a Wood Stork, was actually flying directly overhead.

Photograph of a Wood Stork flying
Wood Stork

As we started along the boardwalk, we were greeted by an Anhinga, a Green Heron, multiple Common Gallinules and a young Gray-headed Swamphen.

Photograph of an Anhinga
Anhinga
Photograph of a Green Heron
Green Heron
Photograph of a Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule
Photograph of a young Gray-headed Swamphen
Gray-headed Swamphen – young bird

The boardwalk was very busy with lots of senior citizens completing their morning walks. At one point we passed through a dryer spot with lots of trees and many warblers. I was most excited to get a decent photo of a PINE WARBLER, which was not a true “lifer” for me, but was a “life photograph” of one.

Photograph of a Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

Other songbirds included Yellow-throated, Palm, Black-and-white, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Redstart, Northern Parula and Blue-headed Vireo. I think the Black-and-white Warbler image turned out quite well!

Photograph of a Black-and-white Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler

As we circled the wetlands, we were treated to more incredible views of Egrets, Herons, ducks, and ibis.

Photograph of the boardwalk and Visitor's Center at Green Cay Wetlands
Photograph of a Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron
Photograph of a pair of Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal – pair
Photograph of a Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

The pièce de résistance had to be an adult Gray-headed Swamphen displaying its full brilliant coloration. Stunning!

Photograph of an adult Gray-headed Swamphen
Gray-headed Swamphen

On the way out we stopped to watch the birds around the bird feeders and got glimpses of White-winged Doves, Common Grackles and female Painted Buntings

Photograph of a White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
Photograph of a Common Grackle
Common Grackle
Photograph of a female Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting – female

In Search of… Pink Birds

Today (January 10th, 2019) we were heading back down to Pembroke Pines and it would be our last opportunity for birding. One of my promises to Maria during our Texas vacation last year, was that we would see Roseate Spoonbills. When she and I had first visited Texas back in the late 90s, seeing Roseate Spoonbills was one of the most awesome encounters of the entire trip. Unfortunately, we struck out in TX. I was very hopeful that they would be present along the Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island NWR as they had been reported pretty much every day the past week.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge sign

As we turned on to the road, off to the side was a nice Tricolored Heron working its way slowly along the side of the road.

Photo of Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron

As luck would have it, barely a couple of minutes along the road was a single Roseate Spoonbill. I yelled out to Maria, “PINK BIRD ALERT, PINK BIRD!” We all jumped out of the car (me forgetting to put the car in park…) and got decent looks at one that wasn’t too far away, but it was directly into the sun.

Photograph of Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

I am always looking for yet better images of birds that I already have an image of, but I am especailly looking for “Life Photograph” birds. Those birds that I have seen, but never photographed. The next target was a bird that I had fair photos of, but nothing I would feel comfortable sharing with anyone other than my mother. REDDISH EGRET. This bird was in perfect morning light, with the sun at my back this time, not in my face.

Photograph of Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret

The next bird on the road was actually one of those “Lifer photo” birds, a WOOD STORK. We watched it walk along the channel and then fly across the small pond.

Photograph of Wood Stork
Wood Stork

Then we hit the jackpot. I knew something was happening ahead because there were a dozen cars stopped and some folks with really big lenses pointing to some birds right along the side of the road. The next several images can say more than my words ever could.

Photograph of White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill
Whie Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill
Photograph of White Ibis, Snowy Egret and Roseate Spoonbill
White Ibis, Snowy Egret and Roseate Spoonbill
Photograph of Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill
Photograph of White Ibis, Wood Stork and Roseate Spoonbill
White Ibis, Wood Stork and Roseate Spoonbill
Photograph of Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill
Photograph of Roseate Spoonbill flock
Roseate Spoonbills
Image of Roseate Spoonbill