Paynes Prairie Revisited – La Chua

Anhinga

The ranger told us that the La Chua trail boardwalk remained open, but the rest stayed closed. We parked and walked down the paved walkway, crossing over the Gainesville-Hawthorne bike trail and through the wonderfully cool and definitely damp stone stable. We passed many people, definitely the place to visit on this Veteran’s Day holiday.

We heard and noticed Limpkins, a lot of Limpkins. Then we saw the pink egg sacks of the larger, invasive Apple Snail, the Limpkin’s favorite food, and knew why. In fact, once we started looking, the pink eggs sacks were everywhere.

As we walked along we saw a Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Snowy Egret immediately. The Snowy egret stepped along deliberately and careful, apparently fishing. The Great Blue Heron stood majestically, watching. White Ibis mixed in with the herons, foraging with their curved bills. We saw a Red-shouldered hawk sitting in a trees, take off and land on some vegetation, and then take off again when a nearby Limpkin rushed toward it and let out the loud cry for which they are known. We stopped to talk to a fellow photographer, and noticed something come out of the vegetation, look around, and when noticed quickly duck back down. The Anhinga, also called the snake bird because of the long neck and bill, certainly demonstrated its name that time.

We noticed some larger birds perching in the distance, and as they flew realized we saw Northern Harriers, a winter bird. A Common Gallinule walked along the vegetation as we passed.

Reaching the end of the boardwalk, we didn’t really need the closed sign to understand why. The rest of the trail stood underwater.

 

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