Thursday, November 29, 2018

December at Chapel Trail Nature Preserve

Looking forward to the upcoming South Florida Audubon wetlands walk at Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in Pembroke Pines, on December 1. Here are selections from my photo archives for this location in the corresponding month in past years.  

View to the west in December 2015 looks pretty much as it does today:

Chapel Trail to west 20141215

View to the south from the entrance dock in 2012 reveals more open water than at present:

Chapel Trail Nature Preserve 3-20121207

Wood Storks are tactile feeders which benefit when their prey is concentrated in shallow water. Although they were common in December, 2014 when this photo was taken, high water levels at Chapel Trail during the next couple of years caused most of them to forage elsewhere.

Wood Stork 3-20141208

Great Egret and Wood Stork are seen hunting together in 2017. They both may benefit from this association. As a sight feeder, the egret may help the stork find concentrations of fish and other aquatic organisms. The stork stirs the water with its pink feet to scare them into its open jaws, at the same time exposing the fleeing prey to be captured by the watchful egret.

Egret and Stork commensal 02-20171221

Gray-headed Swamphen in December 2014. This introduced exotic species favors the flooded spike-rush prairies along the boardwalk:

Purple Swamphen 2-20141202

Killdeer often forage in the manicured grassy areas around the entrance to the preserve:

Killdeer 20131214

We saw the American Bittern this year on our November walk. This photo is from December, 2012:

American Bittern  Botaurus_lentiginosus in flight 20121218

Look for the bittern as it hides motionless in the reeds and sedges:

American Bittern Botaurus_lentiginosus 2-20121218

Cooper's Hawk flying over in 2012:

Cooper's Hawk 3-20121211

American Robins may be numerous in some winters, while we were lucky to find just one in December, 2012:

American Robin 20121207

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a common and very active tiny bird of the treetops (2012):

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 20121203

The Little Blue Heron is a common sight unless there is high water (2011):

Little Blue Heron 2-20111230

The Prairie Warbler (2011) may be seen all winter, but in spring most move out to the mangroves along the coast to breed:

Prairie Warbler male 2-20111213

Northern Mockingbirds are numerous. These two are engaged in a territorial dispute (2010):

Mockingbird standoff 20101230

Red-shouldered Hawks nest in the preserve and are seen here all year (2010):

Red-shouldered Hawk 20101228

The Merlin, a visitor from the far north, is reliably present most winters but this falcon seems to prefer wooded areas. One posed nicely on the fence next to the parking lot in December, 2008:

Merlin  20081211

Look for Pine Warblers in the native pines in the drier areas along the boardwalk (2016):

Pine Warbler 5-20161203

The handsome Tricolored Heron is one of the most common herons at Chapel Trail (2017):

Tricolored Heron 02-20171226

Flocks of White Ibis will forage in shallow water and on the landscaped grounds (2012):

White Ibis 20121207

A very unusual sighting was this flock of Mute Swans which flew over in December, 2015:

Mute Swans 2-20151227

Mute Swan 20151227

A Loggerhead Shrike eating a caterpillar (2015):

Loggerhead Shrike eating caterpillar 20151221

In 2011 we photographed a Sandhill Crane in the parking lot:

Sandhill Crane preening 20111213

This rather tame crane remained through 2012, but disappeared mysteriously in 2013:

Sandhill Crane 20101212

Chapel Trail Nature Preserve is not just about the birds. Check the flowering shrubs to see butterflies such as this Julia longwing male...

Julia longwing male 20141202

...Zebra heliconian...

Zebra heliconian 20180602

...and White Peacock:

White Peacock 20161219

Marsh Rabbit, 2011:

Marsh Rabbit 20111121

A Swamp Lily in December, 2010:

Swamp Lily 20101230

A close look at a "Crab Spider," or Spiny Orb Weaver in 2011:

Spiny Orb Weaver 20111213

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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. Great set of photos, love the swans in flight. Cheers Diane

  2. The intensity of the Little Blue Heron is amazing! Wonderful collection of photos.

  3. Kenneth you have such a wealth of wonderful photographs to bring out and show us. I start off thinking i will pick a favourite but that is impossibly as they are all syperb. i hope you have a lovey weekend

  4. Wonderful post! Have a good weekend!

  5. Hello Ken, looks like a great preserve. They are all wonderful birds and beautiful butterflies. I love the Bittern in Flight and the Swans. Cool capture of the Shrike. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend.

  6. So many beautiful birds and wonderful photos!

  7. We have so many 'critters' here in Florida! I always enjoy your photos to learn some I've been wondering about. We hiked yesterday and saw the Gnatcatcher...a first for us to ID. Hope you have a nice day!

  8. So many great birds here, but the Bittern pictures are amazing Ken.

  9. Hello Kenneth
    I've looked at your pictures and I am very enthusiastic about the selection, the text I could only understand with the translator but what I understood was very well explained, Great pictures, beautifully described, I follow you now ... and watch over again
    Greetings from Germany

  10. LOVE the crane portrait!!

    Hey? Thanks so much for sharing this post & pictures with us at I'd Rather B Birdin

  11. Wonderful shots! My favorites are the hawk and the flock of swans.

  12. wonderful selection. no, can't pick a favourite ;-), though choice.

  13. The crab spider is amazing - I've never seen one before. (or heard of one)

  14. Liked the shot of the merlin in flight.

  15. Many of these are unfamiliar to me, so I truly appreciate this post. Thanks for sharing at

  16. Absolute great animal shots. Great area to explore.

  17. I need to ride down and hike with you one morning!

  18. Just a few of my favorites this week: the Bittern is amazing bird! Like the shorter beak of the wood stork (storks are very common in Holland).
    Awesome angle of the neck of the little Blue Heron! The Mute Swans look like an Air Force formation - beautiful. Favorite of your butterflies this week is the Zebra heliconian -stunning!

  19. Lots of lovely critters! The birds are so colorful. The final spider is so unusual, too.


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