Don’t have all day to spend adventuring? Want to go for Sunday brunch and kill some hours beforehand – or burn some calories after? Wakodahatchee Wetlands is the perfect little place to visit when you only have a couple of hours to spend. It’s up to you how much you want to linger, but the whole area can be walked in about an hour or so – including a few photo stops.
I have been told that the best time to visit Wakodahatchee is either the early morning or the early evening, when generally wildlife will be most active. We were there on a late morning in spring and there was plenty of activity to observe. In fact, it’s hard to imagine how there could have been more. There were birds on pretty much every available tree, shrub and branch in the area. The birds are clearly used to humans and most of the instinctual fear is gone.
So be warned that they might get quite close-up and personal, which is great if you want to take a picture. However, if you are not very keen on birds flying over your head or worry that they might feel like “decorating” you from above, a hat might help.
Wakodahatchee Wetlands – A Manmade Nature Preserve
You might think that this is an “enclave” of nature that has been preserved in Delray Beach; I certainly did when I strolled around Wakodahatchee. Turns out that the wetlands are an entirely man made area. I guess there’s proof that humans occasionally have good ideas.
The Wakodahatchee Wetlands area is constructed on 50 acres of previous wastewater utility property. Southern Region Water Reclamation Facility pumps around two million gallons of highly treated wastewater into the area every single day.
The wetlands act as a kind of filter, returning billions of gallons of freshly “percolated” water back into the water table.
Don’t let all the talk of a man made preserve and waste water spoil your enjoyment though. You really can’t tell that humans created this habitat, and much less will you be able to tell that that you are walking over (clean) wastewater.
What is There To See And Do?
It’s a lovely area with a great boardwalk to take you through this little wetland preserve. You will see all kinds of birds as well as other creatures here, although when we visited it seemed that the place was completely overrun by breeding and nesting Woodstorks. They were literally everywhere.
We did see other birds, most notably Anhingas and lots of wading birds, particularly herons of all kinds and sizes. We also saw many smaller birds that I could not identify. Apparently, over 178 bird species have been identified there. You won’t just see birds though. With any luck you can spot alligators (we did!), turtles, rabbits, fish, frogs and raccoons.
And people. Lots of them. It does get quite busy there!
Wakodahatchee Wetlands is a great place for photographers and hobby photographers as the birds are used to humans and let you get really close. Even a phone camera can produce some great shots (all the pictures here were taken with an older IPhone). It also struck me how great this place is for the elderly and the disabled. It is wheelchair accessible and the boardwalks are even and well-maintained. There are also a couple of gazebos where the mobile as well as the less mobile can take a little breather in the shade.
Anhinga with “Mohawk”
Wakodahatchee Wetlands opened its doors in 1996 and is located at 13026 Jog Road in Delray Beach. The boardwalk is just under a mile long and there are open water pond areas, as well as islands with shrubs where, if you come at the right time of year, you can see birds nesting and rearing their young. There is also interpretive signage along the boardwalk, as well as the previously mentioned gazebos with benches. The best thing: Wakodahatchee Wetlands is completely free. So even those on a tight budget can enjoy this lovely facility, and that’s one of the many reasons why it gets a big thumbs up from me.