The Wakodahatchee Wetlands is a nature preserve spread over 40 acres in Delray Beach, South Florida. First time visitors will be surprised to know that it is a man-made sanctuary created by pumping recycled water from Palm Beach County's Water Reclamation facility. The preserve's ponds, marshes and foliage are home to alligators, fish, turtles, rabbits, ducks, frogs, racoons and other critters. It is a great place for bird watchers what with more than 140 varieties of birds having been spotted in the park. An elevated boardwalk winds 3/4 mile through the park providing visitors a chance to enjoy the park's flora and fauna. .
The vegetation includes sabal palm, saw palmetto, sawgrass, duckweed, live oak and many others.
Visitors can spot a variety of wetland birds all around the park. Blue and green Herons, Anhingas, cormorants, Egrets, and other birds create a cacophony of sounds as they flock to their resting areas in the tress on small islands and marshes dotting the preserve. One may also sight hawks or falcons circling the skies, vultures making themselves comfortable on top of an unused electric pole or pelicans posing on the railing of the boardwalk. The ponds teem with moorhen, turtles, pied-billed grebes and a variety of fish. The park has about a few alligators (maybe 3 or 4 of them) and lucky visitors can sight an alligator sleeping in the shade or moving stealthily in the water. There is a small concrete walk abutting a canal and one can spot rabbits or an alligator nest from here.
Visiting the Park
While not as big as some of the other wetlands in South Florida, Wakodahatchee has it's own charm. One can cover the entire park within a brisk one-hour walk or stroll leisurely along the park for 2-3 hours. Visitors can pause for a break in 3 Gazebos along the boardwalk. A couple of these gazebos overlook the habitat islands and provide great photo opportunities. The park is open from dawn to dusk and the admission is free. The best time to visit the park is in winters when migratory birds come to nest. In summers, the best times are in the mornings or early evenings. These are the best times for alligator sightings. Afternoons in the summer can get hot and one would be well advised to get caps, umbrellas and sunscreen lotions.
The Wakodahatchee Wetlands is a small manmade natural preserve which provides one a great glimpse of South Florida's wetland ecosystem, plenty of photo opportunities for bird and nature lovers, and possible alligator sightings, all without breaking much sweat and for free.