Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chapel Trail Nature Preserve

This view from our back patio just before sunrise showed rain clouds moving in from the ocean. Mary Lou and I stayed just ahead of the storms as we visited Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in Pembroke Pines.

Sunrise HDR 20130520

A Red-shouldered Hawk rested at the end of the boardwalk and allowed us to approach rather closely.

Red-shouldered Hawk 20130520

When we moved just a little nearer it launched into flight.

Red-shouldered Hawk in flight 20130520

Red-shouldered Hawk in flight 2-20130520

We had a fleeting look at a Great Crested Flycatcher.

Great Crested Flycatcher 20130520

During our brief walk we saw a Marsh Rabbit, but few birds.

Marsh Rabbit 20130520

Halloween Pennants were numerous, ...

Halloween Pennant 20130520

... as were butterflies, including this male Julia heliconian.

Julia male 20130529

We visited again the next week and found an Eastern Towhee. As a kid in New Jersey I called them "Red-eyed Towhees," not realizing that there was a white-eyed population in Florida. I should have paid more attention to the text in my first bird book, Chester A Reed's Land Birds East of the Rockies (Doubleday, Page & Company,  1923). Over 70 years ago I defaced my original copy by penciling "SAW" over the picture of each bird as I added it to my first "life list." I recently found a copy in good condition.

Towhee in Reed Guide 1923jpg

During the winter we see towhees with both eye colors, but this bird is breeding locally. Its eyes are actually yellowish, not pure white.   He was singing from a treetop on his territory, just as described in my first bird guide

Eastern Towhee 20130530

He was missing a few feathers from the back of his head. 

Eastern Towhee 2-20130530

An Anhinga flew over the boardwalk.

Anhinga in flight 20130530

A lone female Mottled Duck paddled among the Spikerush. It is a bit odd to see one without a mate.

Mottled Duck female 20130530

This is a view from the end of the boardwalk earlier this spring. Now this area is mostly under water.

Chapel Trail west from boardwalk HDR 20130322

During the wet season the high water disperses waders, so their numbers were low as expected. However the absence of some other waterbirds, notably coots, Common Gallinules and exotic Purple Swamphens was unusual. Further, we had not seen any Loggerhead Shrikes since returning from Illinois. A few can be seen all winter, and they normally increase in the spring.

On the way home, hoping for shrikes, we stopped at West Pines Soccer Park and Nature Preserve (quite a combination!). One of the two boardwalks was closed due to construction. There were no shrikes here either, but as usual at this time of year, over 50 Black Vultures had congregated at the edge of the wetlands.

 Black Vultures 20130530

An unusually pale Northern Mockingbird perched on the fence. Was it a young bird?

Northern Mockingbird 20130530


  1. Wow, awesome collection of photos. The first sky shot is beautiful. I love all the birds, Pennant and the butterfly. All gorgeous! Happy weekend to you!

  2. Ken, that sunrise is a corker with the mirror image reflected on the water. Amazing close up of the RSH and the glorious wing pattern on the Halloween Pennant.

    I'm sure we all have some old field guides with naive scribbles in them .. I know I do!

  3. i always enjoy everything you share! beautiful insects, birds, WOW that opening scene!

  4. Looks like a great place. So many great shots! Love the towhee.

  5. WOW Ken, marvellous photos! I love the skyscape, and the early spring marsh! Of course your bird shots are awesome, and that dragonfly...superb!

  6. Another great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  7. That bcombination of a Soccer Park and Nature Preserve is certainly something! Shame about writing on the book, and I would probably have put a "tick" on the reloevant pages - glad you got a replacement. Great pictures as always, especially the hawk with that amazing barred tail.

  8. A very interesting variety of birds and the first photo of the sunrise is spectacular.

  9. Great and awesome photos. It is a very nice place.

  10. A fantastic set of pics, it would be very hard for me to pic one from the rest, and all in one of my favourite areas.
    All the best Gordon.

  11. The Sunrise is beautiful and so are the birds.

  12. Wonderful photos! I love the hawk, it's a gorgeous bird.

  13. Hi Kenneth Just discovered your blog through WBW and I am glad I did. Wonderful series of shots adn I particularly like the first one. Very atmospheric. Margaret

  14. Wow! That first shot is fantastic! I always enjoy your excellent photos of the birds and insects.

  15. All very beautiful and the landscapes, gorgeous, but you know I am loving your Red-Shouldered Hawk images;')~

  16. Wonderful series seeing what FL looks like when we're gone! (It appears to be doing extremely well without us ))! We have red-eyed towhees (I didn't know there was another kind) here in Oregon --- will try to get a picture while we're here. You have been birding for a while! Fun that you found a copy of the book you used as a child -- I enjoyed seeing the snap of it.


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