Date: 2/23/17 3:45 pm From: Rowe, Richard A, 'Dick' <RoweRA...> Subject: [Va-bird] Florida Trip Part III - Sweetwater Wetlands Gainesville
All - On our way down to St. Pete's we happened to stop at Sweetwater Wetlands Preserve in Gainesville. It was pure luck that we stopped there, and I'll say that it is a fantastic birding spot. Sweetwater was developed as a natural water filtering system and the main in-flow is Sweetwater Creek which runs through Paynes Prairie. The Preserve was built about 3-4 years ago with numerous impoundments and a series of dykes with walking paths. They have planted native wetland plants, so the area looks very natural - plus it has several very large alligators. At Sweetwater we saw Sandhill Cranes (perhaps saw 150, heard many - the count was 1200 by the park ranger), Common Gallinules (lots), Coots (lots), perhaps 20 Wood Storks, 20-30 White Ibis, 10 Glossy Ibis, a few Great Blue, Little Blue, and Louisiana Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, and best of all - 2 American Bitterns, a Sora in the open and at close range, Limpkins (12-14) at close range, and about 40-50 Black-bellied Whi stling Tree Ducks. If you are passing through that area, I really recommend stopping. I would think during migration the area is full of birds. The Ranger said that in January they had about 900 Whistling Tree Ducks along with other ducks.
I've posted some, actually quite a few, photos from Sweetwater. Almost all of the photos I took were excellent and it was hard to reduce the number.