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Christmas 2006

Part 10:  Loxahatchee & Environs

Should have started earlier to get to Loxahatchee at a decent time, but as it was, racked up quite a list on the way up there, including a Sharp-shinned Hawk (which I thought was new for the trip but wasn't...)!  Once at the refuge I made a run around their boardwalk and saw where they had some decent flowers where I kicked up a (best guess) Ocola Skipper!  Bird-wise it was pretty dead in there; by the time I got to the Marsh Trail the wind was picking up, and it was patchy sunny/cloudy.  A nice Eastern Phoebe posed in the sun, and both Glossy and White Ibis were in the area, along with all three "swimming" rails.  A lovely pale Red-shouldered Hawk was posing for a bunch of people, and I was almost to the end/beginning of the trail when I asked a group of people if they had seen any Limpkins, and they actually had, back at the last corner!  So I trudged all the way back and actually went beyond the corner, and there was the Limpkin just where the young man told me he was (hurt wing and all, poor thing)!  About that time another man whistled at me (just to get my attention): he had spotted two Great Horned Owls in the tree!  I never would have found them on my own, and what clued him in was that he actually heard them vocalizing!

                       

Cypress Trail at Loxahatchee NWR with Baton Rouge (it isn’t just a city: it’s the name of a lichen that grows here, and means "Red Stick")!

          

Ocola Skippers

        

Marsh Trail with Eastern Phoebes

                

L-R:  Red-shouldered Hawk (Florida birds are much paler than California birds), White Ibis, Great Horned Owl pair (look hard), and Limpkin with injured wing

Hiked the levee after that where the wind was really whipping; had a Harrier and a Palm Warbler, plus a Checkered Skipper whose pattern looked an awful lot like a White, but they aren't supposed to be here.  Since the sun was out more than it wasn't at this point, I decided to check the flowers one more time as I figured that area was a little more sheltered, and it did indeed provide some more action: a nice Long-tailed Skipper showed off its blue, but the star was a wonderful Ruddy Daggerwing, a butterfly I really wanted to see while I was here!

   

White Peacock hiding from the wind on the levee

  

Supposedly only Tropical Checkered Skippers show up here, but this looks more like a White to me—any ideas??   

 

Ruddy Daggerwing, a Florida specialty!

                

Long-tailed Skippers show a beautiful blue sheen on their backs (one of them lost part of his tail...)

I heard that Okeeheelee Park was supposed to be good for butterflies, so I headed up there and got lost trying to find the nature center (that's one big city park!), but at least added a flock of Ring-necked Ducks to the list in the process!  When I finally found the place they did indeed have a wonderful butterfly garden, but the sun wasn't cooperating very well: had several more Long-tailed Skippers battling, plus Zebra Heliconians, a Cloudless Sulphur, a Cassius Blue, and a Monk Skipper.  I decided to hike one of their little paved trails to give the sun time to come out, and when I got back to the nature center, a group of people were up on the deck and I heard one mention "green bunting"; sure enough, they had a pair of Painted Buntings at the feeder!  What a trip bird!  A winter-plumaged Indigo Bunting also joined them, as well as a female Cardinal and a Catbird.  Inside, I said hello to their captive Screech Owl and Red-shouldered Hawk, then decided to give Hobe Sound a try before it was time to look for a motel.

       

Butterfly gardens at Okeeheelee Park had a Cassius Blue (laying eggs on left)

        

Monk Skipper and Cloudless Sulphur (with a rare peek at the upperside)

        

Dragonfly sp. on the Cypress Trail

           

Pond along the trail and Painted Buntings at the feeders

             

L-R:  Male Painted Bunting joined by a female Cardinal, female Painted Buntings, and Indigo Bunting

                           

Captive Eastern Screech Owl (left) and Red-shouldered Hawk (right)

The sun was shining all the way over there, but wouldn't ya know it, the minute I got to Blowing Rocks Preserve (recommended as a good butterfly spot), not only did it cloud over, but it started raining!  I was able to make a quick run-through of their garden (still had Zebras despite the lousy weather) and the lagoon boardwalk, but decided to start heading north, seeing as I wanted to hit Joe Overstreet in the morning.

Blowing Rocks Preserve on a suddenly blustery day

 

Well, duh...

Click here to continue to Joe Overstreet, here to return to Everglades NP

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