Posts Tagged With: wetland

Patch On The Edge

Okay, so maybe I’m stretching this “patch” thing a bit by including a spot that’s almost a 40 minute drive from the house. As the Corvus flies, it’s only 17 miles away. Alas, not being a handsome crow, I must climb into a hunk of metal and negotiate highways, bi-ways and expressways all the while trying to avoid a collision with other humanoids within their own hunks of metal scurrying along at unreasonably high rates of speed and by the time I reach the lovely setting of Lake Gwyn Park I’m ready for a peaceful walk in a wetland.

This is another man-made wetland which attempts to mitigate decades of poor irrigation and agricultural practices. An old canal dug for taking water from Lake Gwyn to nearby farms long ago completely drained the lake and “Lake” Gwyn has been devoid of water for many years. The canal eventually flows into the Peace River which empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The filtered water of the newly developed wetlands will help keep the river, and ultimately, the gulf, cleaner for the future.

The first phase of a multi-year project has developed the western portion of the former lake into a series of open water pools of varying depths and has included plantings of vegetation known to be effective natural filters. The result has been to provide attractive habitat for diverse bird species, especially during fall and spring migration. Resident birds like the place, too. Last spring we found six Snail Kites in the park and I’m pretty certain they bred there.

There is a trail of about two miles along a raised berm and through a section of pine woods which offers nice views of the wetland and a pleasant walk through shady forest. Recreation and picnic facilities are currently under construction and planning has begun for the second phase of the project which will restore the eastern half of the lake area.

As I mentioned, fall through spring can offer very good birding opportunities, but even an early morning summer walk is rewarding. Many birds have adopted the new area as home and other animals are finding the wetland to their liking as well. A patch totally worth a little drive.

Patch:  Lake Gwyn Park

Clean water, lush vegetation, a few trees. What more could a bird (or birder) ask for?

Lake Gwyn Park

Lake Gwyn Park

 

If the Great Blue Heron is present, you know the hunting and fishing are good.

Lake Gwyn Park

 

A pair of Green Herons fussed at me all along the eastern berm trail leading me to believe they had a nest nearby. They are normally silent and slink away as I approach. This one flew up to a snag and kept a close eye on me. Unusual.

Lake Gwyn Park

 

This Red-winged Blackbird announced his happiness in song from atop the same snag the Green Heron above was using. A female further along the path seemed just as happy.

Lake Gwyn Park

Lake Gwyn Park

 

A pair of River Otters were very curious about what I was doing in their territory. The presence of these mammals indicate the wetland is doing its job of providing clean water, good habitat and a healthy supply of forage. All good news.

Lake Gwyn Park

Lake Gwyn Park

Lake Gwyn Park

 

This brings to a close (stop cheering) my summary of local birding patches which Gini and I frequent. You will see the names of these spots again as they really are wonderful places to go birding, photographing, exploring and just plain relaxing. We hope you have your own list of patches where you may also experience all of the above.

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

 

Additional Information

Lake Gwyn Park

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Fog, A Log and A First

Gini would say I’m stitching together pieces of adventure to form a nice patchwork quilt of memories. (See why I married her? —> She is the smartest person I know.)

When last you tuned in, we took a brief walk about Colt Creek State Park and found a few insects and hardly any birds. Today’s patch exploration found precious little of either of the above. However, it was a glorious morning walk! Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands may be difficult to pronounce, but it’s an easy walk of 1.5 miles on a raised berm around the wetlands or one can opt for a mile stumbling along the creek-side through old-growth hardwood forest. Naturally, today I chose the path less traveled. (Okay, I was the only one there so “less-traveled” is not really accurate. But the fog obscured the actual wetlands so I thought I’d see what the forest looked like. Good decision.)

In keeping with my current theme (what, you didn’t know there was a theme?), this patch is only nine miles from the house.

Upon arriving, the pre-dawn was crystal clear with that peculiar color of blue the sky displays before the rising sun sets it afire. Even as the first bright rays shot above the tree line, wisps of mist began to materialize above the wetlands. Almost immediately after the sun was fully above the horizon, dense fog formed and enveloped the wetlands in a damp gray blanket.

Our weather for the past several weeks has been very wet with regular thunderstorms in the afternoons dumping several inches of water daily. The recent rains added a deep, saturated green to the tree leaves. It wasn’t long before the sun’s beams began to break through the fog and forest canopy.

Although I didn’t get many photographs of birds (again), they made their presence known in calls and songs. Northern cardinal, white-eyed vireo, tufted titmouse, northern parula, a red-shouldered hawk screaming in the distance.

On the way back to the parking area, I was surprised by a King Rail with two juveniles in tow feeding along the edge of the wetlands. The photograph is not good, but it’s the first time I’ve gotten any image at all of this particular rail. Not to mention the significance of confirming that this somewhat rare species is breeding here! Icing on the already delicious cake of a good day!

Patch:  Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands 

Sunrise over the wetlands.Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

 

Ordinary scenes take on an ethereal quality when cloaked in fog. An island with the bright sun behind it seems to glow with a special halo. A pool of water with trees on the far shore appears mysterious and one wonders what might be discovered beyond.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

 

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands 

Itchepackesassa Creek, still foggy in the distance.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

A log fallen across the creek immediately screamed to my inner child:  “Climb me!”  My senior self immediately said: “Not likely, ever again.”

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

Deer Moss (Cladina spp.) is actually not moss but a lichen. When there has been plenty of rain, it is very soft to the touch but during dry periods it becomes quite brittle.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

The path is not always clear. Then comes enlightenment.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

A King Rail adult and juvenile.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetlands

 

Another patch with which I should be intimately familiar. I am not. That just means I must return (again and again). I feel certain you are all well versed in what to expect within your own birding patch, and I am jealous of you.

 

We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

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

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: