Birdwatching at Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

By 7:30 a.m., we were on the trail at the Sweetwater Wetlands Park, and the birds were there to greet us.

common moorhen and chicks

A common moorhen and her three chicks at Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

We started by checking a location along the boardwalk where we’d seen purple gallinule a few weeks ago. We heard the purple gallinules and caught a few glimpses of them as they slipped through the marsh grass, but they didn’t emerge for us to photograph them as they had on our last visit to the park.

Nearby, a common moorhen family was very cooperative for us photographers. The parents groomed, and the three chicks foraged near their parents.

We continued our walk along the trail and saw a wide array of birds.

We were almost within 10 feet of a pair of sandhill cranes that were grooming.

Just beyond them we spotted a wood stork, walking along the water’s edge.

Other sightings included limpkins, great egrets, great blue herons, a tricolored heron and an alligator cruising along the waterway.

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If you are a birdwatcher, you can imagine what a treat it was to see so many different kinds of birds and to see them at a pretty close range.

shelter at Sweetwater Wetlands Park - photo by Julie Dodd

This shelter is the one covered area at the park. Be sure to wear a hat and bring water.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park, in Gainesville, Florida, was created to provide a natural way to improve the water quality of wetlands in Paynes Prairie and the Floridan Aquifer.

The park has 125 acres of ponds and wetlands and 3.5 miles of trails of crushed gravel and boardwalks.

The park is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to sunset. The cost is $5 per car or $2 per individual (cyclist or pedestrian). Be sure to check the park’s website for more information.

The park is a great way to improve water quality and to provide a very accessible location to enjoy wildlife.

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