I discovered the Green Cay Wetland and Nature Preserve Dec. 27, 2017 when my sister Bobbie Polinsky suggested that we visit the place.  I did not know what to expect and did not bother to bring my camera. Upon first view, I realized that I had made a big mistake.

I returned almost a year later with camera in hand to develop a web page for teachers and people who are interested in nature, wetlands, wildlife, plants, habitats, and the environment in general.  The wetland is a magnet for wildlife photographers.

After parking your car, you will find a butterfly garden along the walkway to the visitor’s center and entrance to the reconstructed wetland, formerly a green pepper farm.  The transformation is astonishing, extraordinary, even magical.    

The visitors center is pictured along with the boardwalk (top and below) and a major Deep Zone.  See Welcome to Green Cay map and chart for basic wetland information about the Deep Zone, Freshwater Marsh, Tree Islands, and the High Elevation.

The Green Cay Wetlands Boardwalk allows us to appreciate the harmony between the environment and ourselves.  Please see the below sign that describes the wetland as ground water resources that provides a natural habitat for wildlife.

 

The Deep Zone, Freshwater Marshes, Tree Islands, and the Higher Elevations wildlife are accessible and/ or visible from the boardwalk as it encircles the wetland.

The fresh water marsh is a haven for birds, fishes, turtles and plants.

Reconstructed wetlands facilitate water reclamation and recycling, and also provides a protected habitat for endangered species.  A great benefit is the beautiful open green space for people to enjoy. 

The Green Cay and the model Wakodahatchee wetlands mimic nature by using evaporation and natural filtration to clean the water.   

Ted and Trudy Winsberg contributed their land at a fraction of its market value to Palm Beach County to construct into a wetland.  The collaboration was foresighted because the wetland is increasingly surrounded by upscale residential subdivisions. 

The boardwalk is a great place to take in the wetland’s silence and occasional sounds of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Wading birds: Herons and Egrets came close to extinction before conservation efforts began and revived them.  Their numbers, however, are dwindling again because of the continuing loss of wildlife habitat. 

These plants - Fireflag, Arrowhead, Pickerelweed, Arrow Anum and Spatterdock – serve as natural purification filters.  

The Mosquito Fish eats mosquito larvae before they can develop into mosquitos and limits their population.

A lucky visitor may see an Anhinga, a large black and white bird, a marsh rabbit, a common Moorhen, a Florida Cooter turtle, an alligator or a Great Blue Heron.  In my two visits, I have witnessed all but an alligator which would have really made my day. 

A group of Snowy Egrets are pictured in center.

 

The freshwater marsh and tree islands are almost jungle-like in their densities. 

The mystery of what is at the end of this stretch of boardwalk makes it my favorite segment. 

When you emerge from the boardwalk and tree island, you will see the highest elevation, the pretty central grassy path that assists attendants to more easily access the different sectors.

The wild white little flowers made this one of my favorite parts of the marsh. 

The above picture of the freshwater marsh concludes Part I of our survey of the Green Cay Wetlands.  Part II will focus on the different trees, wildlife, and swamp. 

I felt fortunate to capture a half dozen ducks happily swimming in a Deep Zone pond. 

Freshwater turtles include the Florida Cooter, Florida Red-bellied Turtle, the Red-eared Slider, and the Florida Softshell. 

Dabblers include the Mallard, Mottled Duck, and Blue-winged Teal.

A Least Tern took in the Wetland’s solitude and so did visitors on the boardwalk in the background.

Birds of Prey that may be spotted include the Northern Harrier, Red Shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, and Peregrine Falcon.  During my visit, several hawks circled the sky above the wetland apparently enjoying the view and not stalking a small creature. 

Terns love to perch on this lone tree in the Freshwater Marsh. Mallards swim by. 

Look up in the sky: It’s probably an American Kestrel, Least Tern, Osprey or Purple Martin. 

The Tree Island is a small world unto itself and congregated with an amazing mixture of native Florida trees.

The Chickee Hut is a thatched structure used for shelter by Florida’s Seminole and Miccosukee tribes since the 1600’s.  The huts described in the Chickee Hut sign below was constructed from Cabbage Palm fronds and survived Hurricane Frances and Jeanine in 2004, the year that the wetland was constructed.

The Shy Ones are the Least Bittern, Limpkin, and the Sora.  They may be hiding in the vegetation and therefore harder to spot. 

The Live Oak is a majestic shade tree and hardwood species that helps to form the canopy of a tropical hardwood hammock.  Other trees fund in a hardwood hammock include the Gumbo Limbo, Pigeon-plum, Poisonwood and Mahogany. 

The ubiquitous Slash Pine is commercially important to south Florida and has traditionally been harvested for lumber, paper production, and turpentine.

The Strangler Fig is pictured below “strangling” a Cabbage Palm located in a Tree Island.

The Cypress, the most common tree found in Florida swamps, come in two varieties: Bald Cypress and Pond Cypress.  Most of Florida’s cypress swamps were logged for their giant and useful cypress trees by the 1950’s. 

The Pond Apple was an interesting new fact to me.

Florida’s official state tree – the cabbage palm – is not actually a tree for it does not have bark or growth rings as real trees do.  It got its name from early settlers who ate the hearts of the trees like boiled “cabbage” and used the fronds for their chickee huts. 

I said goodbye to the wetland as the sun set over it.  End of Part II.