Thursday, October 25, 2018

Walking the boardwalk at Chapel Trail

This winter we are looking forward to a series of  monthly nature walks at Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in neighboring Pembroke Pines. 

Before Mary Lou and I moved from New Mexico to south Florida in 2004 we learned about the planned opening of this wetland preserve. During visits prior to our relocation we had visited the site, watched the construction of a boardwalk and anticipated its imminent debut. 

Unfortunately, vandals set a fire which caused extensive damage and the area remained closed for repairs. A hurricane hit only a couple of years later and turned over almost half of the boardwalk structure, necessitating another closure. Since then we have made many visits and often found it to be hospitable to a nice variety of resident and migratory birds.

These are views of the boardwalk last November:

Chapel Trail 02-20171128

Chapel Trail 04-20171128

To anticipate what we might see this year, a few of last year's November sightings from the boardwalk vantage points follow.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 01-20171128

Female Northern Cardinal:

Northern Cardinal female 03-20171104

Pine Warbler:

Pine Warbler 03-20171104

Tricolored Heron:

Tricolored Heron reflection 20171104

From earlier years--

Prairie Warbler:

Prairie Warbler 3-20151227

Great Egret:

Great Egret HDR 05-20160808

A Bobcat track in the dew on the boardwalk (Mary Lou saw it, but this is all I have to remember it by):

Bobcat print on boardwalk 20151111

An Eastern Towhee with yellow eyes, a Florida specialty as this species has red eyes in its northern range:

Eastern Towhee 05-20160305

Gray-headed (formerly called "Purple") Swamphen:

Gray-headed Swamphen in spikerush 20151212

A young Marsh Rabbit:

Marsh Rabbit young 01-20160808

These are the first two pages of my Chapel Trail photo album from back in 2015. I now have processed over 1000 photos from this location:

Chapel Trail FLICKR Album

Chapel Trail FLICKR Album2

Although it is cut off from the Everglades and fed by rainwater and drainage canals which can cause unusual fluctuation of its water levels, the hydrology of this wetlands roughly mirrors that of the River of Grass-- flooded during spring and summer and gradually drying out as winter advances. 

This year, an extremely wet month of May and the need to reduce the water level in Lake Okeechobee in preparation for the hurricane season placed a burden on the canal system and water backed up into the wetlands. This dispersed aquatic prey, and resulted in a lower concentration of  herons and egrets throughout the summer. Water conditions should be more favorable this November.

A prominent plant in the flooded areas is Spikerush, which favors longer periods of flooding (hydroperiod), quite the opposite of Sawgrass which declines if its roots remain submerged over several seasons. At Chapel Trail, the Sawgress flourishes on the higher ground, but areas of Spikerush provide habitat for microorganisms and invertebrates which attract fish and wading birds. Swamphens and other wildlife eat their nourishing seeds, shoots, roots and tubers.

Spikerush  in a flooded prairie on a rainy morning in November, 2017:

Rain over Chapel Trail 20171104

We normally visit Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in order to observe wildlife FROM its 1/4 mile boardwalk. I started thinking about what we might have seen ON rather than FROM this structure, so I searched my photo archives and turned up quite a few creatures!

Click here to see critters ON (not FROM) the boardwalk at Chapel Trail 

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

 Linking to Fences Around the World by Gosia


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. Sad about the vandals but I am glad it was repaired. I always seek out reserves and will soon be seeing some very rare and interesting creatures, mostly birds and reptiles.

  2. A lovely collection of bird images Kenneth. pity about vandals and hurricanes. Have a wonderful weekend.

  3. excellent series of photos and hoping the wetlands will remain open for visiting.

  4. A beautiful boardwalk trail. Interesting how the Marsh Rabbit has adapted so differently than our desert rabbits with their huge ears!

  5. I'm very jealous of most of these bird pictures. So many that I've never seen here in the UK. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hello, the boardwalk trail looks great. It is wonderful it could open after the vandals and hurricane did their damage. I miss the Florida birds and preserve. I love the Tricolored Heron photo, great reflection. The Warblers and all the birds are all beautiful, great captures. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  7. What a beautiful place to see so much wildlife. It's getting to be a great time to get out here in Florida! Enjoy your weekend!

  8. Awesome birds photos. You have a terrific place to put your wonderful skill into action.

  9. exquisite sad to hear about vandalism.

  10. My favorite today is the portrait of the P. Warbler!! Too bad about all the delays but, as they say, good things come to those who wait!

    I'm running a bit late visiting this weekend since I spent about 5 hours in the ER with heart issues. Thanks for sharing your post!

  11. My favorite today is the portrait of the P. Warbler!! Too bad about all the delays but, as they say, good things come to those who wait!

    I'm running a bit late visiting this weekend since I spent about 5 hours in the ER with heart issues. Thanks for sharing your post!

  12. Towhees have always been one of my favorites! Love the blue grey gnatcatcher and the Prairie Warbler too! Wonderful photos.

  13. Looks like a wonderful place. Your photos are beautiful!

  14. A wonderful Post for Image-In-Ing. Fantastic captures!

  15. It's a beautiful wetland and I'm so happy you shared it with us.

  16. Love all the photos, but the Prairie Warbler really caught my eye this time! Visiting from Saturday's Critters.

  17. Great photos. Love the heron!
    Thanks for linking up at

  18. Assuming its the same species, I saw a Great Egret today! I don't think thats happened with my birding and your blog before.

    Sorry for the late reply, been on the road with work.
    Cheers - Stewart M - Bath, UK

  19. Stunning photos!!! And great eye, to spot the bobcat track. (I love that photo and the reflection photo best, but they're all great.)

  20. Wonderful photos! Sorry that the place has had a hard time staying intact.


Thank you for visiting Rosyfinch Ramblings! I will enjoy a visit to your page just as soon as possible. Some anonymous comments and some containing active links may not be accepted.