Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shingle Creek, Part 1

I keep seeing reports from Shingle Creek more and more lately and wanted to get out there at some point. Today would be the day. It is only 15 minutes from work so it was about time I made it over. I was a nice day to hike to 6-plus miles in a couple hours. I took a lot of photos so I will split this journey into three different posts as to keep them a bit more compact but they will still be fairly long, screen-wise.

This post will focus on the birds and the main stretch of the hike. The next post will be about Pine Island and the flowers I found there. The final post will be about a special bird I found at the entrance to Pine Island. I thought it deserved its own spotlight.

Shingle Creek is considered the "northernmost headwaters of the Everglades watershed" and the trail head begins behind the Hunter's Creek Elementary School. A kiosk provides a lot of information to savor before heading into the swamp.

Trail head sign

Just past the sign, a nice bridge gives us our first view of Shingle Creek. Lore has it that the name comes from the fact that settlers used to use the cypress trees as a source of shingles for the area's houses.

Shingle Creek

A few steps later and you are staring at the surrounding swamp comprised mainly of Cypress and Gum trees. There was a feeding flock I could her way in the distance but it was difficult to make out all of the fast moving birds and too far for photos. There were Titmice, Yellow-throated Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and more.


My secret objective was to try and locate any Red-breasted Nuthatches but I need pine trees for that so I head down the trail to continue to the right habitat.


As I emerged from the swampy area I was met by a White Ibis and a Tricolored Heron keeping watch over the bridge spanning the creek at this end.

White Ibis and Tricolored Heron

Not far from the open area here, I could hear a bunch of birds in the woods just off the trail. I walked in and was surrounded by Titmice, Pine Warblers, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue-headed Vireos and a Black and White Warbler which commanded most of my attention. Primarily due to the fact that it was the one bird giving me good views as it fed along a nearby tree.

Black and White Warbler

Round and round it went and only paused for a brief second of two as I snapped away. Love these little birds.

Black and White Warbler

Before I continued my trek I couldn't resist getting a shot of the Climbing Aster blooming in the shade.

Climbing Aster

Water flows along the open trail away from the main creek. During wetter times the area is very damp and provides habitat and food for many species. Another of the birds out in the open was a Little Blue Heron that paid me little attention.

Little Blue Heron

Many Eastern Phoebes were foraging along the ditches but most flew off when I walked down the trail. This one at least gave me a curious glance before taking off.

Eastern Phoebe

I have no idea what scared up this Great-blue Heron. It was completely out of view and far ahead of me when it took off squawking and landed up in the cypress stands. Check out those cool feet grasping the perch.

Great-blue Heron

Just after I took that shot, a Red-shouldered Hawk came zooming out of the trees, landed about 20 feet in front of me, picked something up, and flew back into the trees. I had no time for a shot while it was on the ground so I had to settle for a perched shot. A good view of the 'red shoulders', though.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The other fun sight along the open trail was a Florida Cooter sunning along the bank as I headed back toward the swamp in route to the van.

Florida Cooter

A nice selection of sights down the main trails. Again, the next post will be mostly flora and the trip around a 'pine island' on the property. Stay tuned!

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