Quest for the purple gallinule

 

Purple Gallinule at Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Purple Gallinule at Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Seeing the purple gallinule has been a quest of mine for some time.

If you’ve not seen a gallinule, they are quite a visual treat.  With their bright purple-blue, green-turquoise feathers they don’t seem real. They have bright red and yellow beaks with a turquoise head marking.

Only once had I seen and photographed a purple gallinule. I was in the Shark Valley section of the Everglades National Park. The gallinule was tiptoeing across floating lily pads.

Purple gallinule balancing on a fragile grass blade. © 2018

Purple gallinule balancing on a fragile grass blade. © 2018

After looking unsuccessfully for gallinules in other wetland areas in Florida, I was delighted to hear that purple gallinules were in Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville. The 125-acre wetland area was created to improve the water quality of the wetlands in Paynes Prairie and the Florida Aquifer.

After walking no more than about 50 yards on the park’s boardwalk, I heard sqwaks and stopped. I looked through the tall grasses and waited. Then there was a purple gallinule! And then another.

I stayed in that area for about an hour and saw four or five adult gallinules and several chicks.

Several gallinules picked their way through the grasses, looking for something to eat.

A parent gallinule arrived with a large apple snail that it fed to its chicks that scurried in from the surrounding bushes.

Another gallinule emerged from the marsh grasses and used its long claws to wrap around the stalk of a plant to climb and reach a cluster of purple flowers to eat.

My Monet photo

My Monet photo

I took dozens of photos and was delighted at my good fortune to have seen so many of the gallinules. I’m sharing some of my photos with you.

After an hour in the direct sun taking photos and watching the gallinules, I had to retreat to the pavillion. It was mighty hot!

Once in the pavillion, I sketched as I was feeling inspired by the gallinules and the beauty of the park.

The three resulting sketches of Sweetwater Wetlands Park are on display and for sale at the Gainesville Fine Arts Association Gallery until end of July.  They are part of the “Local Inspiration: What inspires your creativity in North Florida and Gainesville?”

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