Posts Tagged With: itchepackesassa creek

Medicinal Plant Creek

Okay, let’s face it. Translating from one language to another can be a tricky thing. According to my research, the location I tramped around in, Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands, is from the Muscogee (Creek) Native American language and means “Medicinal Plant” Creek Wetlands. I highly prefer the original. It’s rhythmic, takes effort to pronounce and reminds me of a very old children’s song having to do with a soda cracker. And I didn’t find any medicinal plants, either.

What I did find was an abundance of life! Flowers were showing off their spring beauty. Tall pines and stately oaks mixed with bay, laurel, hickory and other tree species. Small mammal footprints in the mud were like a mini-census: raccoon, squirrel, opossum, white-tailed deer and otter. Tall grass pressed flat formed “slides” around the shoreline where alligators entered and left the water. A plethora of insects thrive in the wet environment. An Eastern Black Racer (a magnificent snake species for those unfamiliar) enjoyed one of those insects before “racing” off the path as I approached. Did I mention the birds?

The man-made impoundment includes areas of open water with varying depths to attract a diversity of water birds. Plantings of erosion-protecting and filtering vegetation helps insure the water remains clean and the area stable. With a relatively dense area of tall-growing plants throughout the wetlands, many birds feel comfortable nesting here. I found a family of Sandhill Cranes, new Common Gallinule chicks, Osprey catching fish and returning to a nearby nest to feed two young fish hawks and young Black-crowned Night Herons roosting on an island.

No matter how you pronounce it, Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands is a wonderful place to explore any day! (It doesn’t hurt that it’s only 15 minutes from the house, either.)

Yes, there are a few pictures of the morning slog. 

Fairly new Sandhill Crane chicks are almost independent but still don’t stray too far from Mom and Dad.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands 

 

A pair of American Kestrels have taken up residence in the wetlands. Hope I can get photos of some new chicks soon!

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

An adult Black-crowned Night Heron passed nearby grunting his displeasure at my presence.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

Spring in the wetlands means plenty of Red-winged Blackbirds singing from atop trees. This guy was singing “Moonlight Sonata”. No. Really. He was.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

Thistle flowers are so beautiful to observe yet so painful to touch.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

Not wishing to be outdone by a blackbird, a Limpkin tries serenading his love from atop a skinny tree branch. Two lessons learned: those big claws are more comfortable on solid ground and there is no way a Limpkin’s call could be confused with a serenade.  (Limpkin “Serenade”)

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

An Osprey scans the water below for a fresh fish breakfast which will be shared by two young chicks in a nearby nest.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

The morning sun shows off some of the iridescence in the plumage of a Glossy Ibis.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

Wood Ducks love the many places they can hide within the wetlands’ tall grasses and reeds.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

A Common Grackle harasses a Swallow-tailed Kite. The grackle was no match for the flying skills of the kite, which flew a couple of circles around the attacker and dove toward the ground suddenly leaving the poor grackle alone in the sky.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

This is a wonderful spot for a morning walk and always yields a diversity of life at which one can marvel. We hope you have a place near where you live which offers a respite from the ordinary.

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Small Victories

My new waterproof boots were very comfortable and combined with the thick soft socks it seemed I was gliding instead of walking. After a few hours of hiking through tall wet grass, when I removed the footwear, the socks were dry and so were my feet. The bottom portion of my pant legs were another story. They stored enough water to supply a small village reservoir. The morning was spent exploring a newly developing wetlands. The area was mostly pastureland over the past 50 years, ringed with hardwood and a few pine trees and is located near the confluence of two creeks. Historically, these two creeks overflowed during periods of prolonged rain and flooded the fields. This fact has been a blessing in disguise as those wanting to turn the land into a “lovely gated golf course community” were put off by the cost of controlling the flooding. The county accepted a proposal from an environmental engineering firm to construct water control facilities and develop the area into a park with an emphasis on wetlands preservation. Eventually the park will host ball fields and picnic areas, but will also retain a significant wetlands area to attract wildlife.

I was fortunate to be able to explore the area recently and even though it doesn’t cover a large area and construction of the water holding “cells” has only been recently completed, it was obvious birds are attracted to the habitat. We found almost 50 species of birds including Pied-billed Grebes (with juveniles), Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Least Bitterns, Black-crowned Night Herons, Purple Gallinules and Limpkins. Early fall migrants were present as were several raptors.

Eventually, this may be called Walker Road Park and it’s located in northwest Polk County near Itchepackesassa Creek. It may open to the public within the next two years. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see more and more birds discover a welcoming environment where they won’t need a gate security code for access.

 

A few photos of the area show recently planted vegetation in the “cells” which will filter water from the creeks, clean it and return it to the creeks. The cells were excavated to provide some areas of deeper water to attract diving ducks and areas of shallow water for wading birds.

View

View

View

View

 

A Mottled Duck likes the shallow end of the pool but didn’t care for us poking around his resort and flew to a quieter spot.

Mottled Duck

Mottled Duck

 

An American Kestrel really likes all the insects attracted to the area.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

 

Belted Kingfishers migrate through this area and some stay all winter. This pair is catching up on gossip following their flight from the north.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

 

Green Herons are year-round residents and this one was stalking a frog. Or a lizard. Or something tasty.

Green Heron

Green Heron

 

Birds aren’t the only ones liking the new area. A Roseate Skimmer thinks the newly created shorelines are just fine for hunting. Not to be left out, a Four-spotted Pennant kept chasing the Roseate Skimmer from the best perches.

Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis discolor)

Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis discolor)

Four-spotted Pennant - Male  (Brachymesia gravida)

Four-spotted Pennant – Male (Brachymesia gravida)

 

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks will likely find this area suitable for breeding. This species continues to expand its range each year it seems.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

 

Pied-billed Grebes like the place enough to raise a family here. We found at least two sets of young Grebes, some young enough to still have their cute brown-striped head pattern.

 

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe (Juvenile)

Pied-billed Grebe (Juvenile)

 

Not only was it a good morning of all-around birding, it was gratifying to see a piece of land developed specifically to improve its attraction for wildlife. And all without getting my feet wet.

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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