From our south Florida home, it's an enjoyable two hour drive to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, just east of Naples. Located in the western Everglades, and administered by the Audubon Society, Corkscrew's 14,000 acres include a variety of habitats, including 700 acres of virgin Bald Cypress, the largest remaining stand in the world. The old-growth cypresses have been host to the largest breeding colony of Wood Storks in the US.
However, the storks have done poorly the past several years since 2006, when there were 600 nesting pairs. In 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 there were none. The exception was 2009, when there were 1120 nesting pairs. Sadly, the storks failed to nest again this year. An interpreter pointed out a long line of tall cypress trees on the horizon, which, at this time of year would normally have been white with nesting and roosting storks. We saw not a single one. I discussed the problem in an earlier post "Struggling Storks." Visit this link for updated information about the Wood Stork at Corkscrew Swamp.
A 2 1/4 mile Boardwalk winds across pine woodlands, a wet prairie and through a stand of Pond Cypress.
At any time of year, a visitor can expect to see Pileated Woodpeckers.
We got breathtaking views of Red-shouldered hawks.
A pair were engaged in courtship above the boardwalk.
The onset of spring migration of land birds is still a month away, so there were only a few warbler species-- Yellow-rumped, Parula, Yellow-throated, and Pine Warblers.
Northern Parulas foraged high up in the trees.
Pine Warblers were abundant.
I accidentally caught this Pine Warbler as it flew from its perch.
We saw two Black-and-white Warblers.
Tufted Titmice were vociferous.
There were quite a few Great Crested Flycatchers.
White-eyed Vireos were present but elusive. Last March, this one posed along the boardwalk.
The light was poor in the understory, so this photo of a Summer Tanager came out badly.
A male Carolina Wren sang loudly, accompanied by the softer twitter of a female. The angle of this photo of the male demonstrates the white back spots that are not always very evident, as they are normally covered by the wings.
A male Anhinga was decked out in breeding colors-- plumes and green "goggles."
A Little Blue Heron's head swayed back and forth, helping it judge the distance of an underwater prey item.
A Great Blue Heron was so close that this is all I could fit into the viewfinder (I did capture the entire mosquito on its chin).
Wintering Painted Buntings are reliably present at the feeders in Corkscrew Swamp, but we missed them by a few minutes this time. We waited almost a half hour for their return, but the only visitor to the feeders was a pregnant Big Cypress Fox Squirrel, classified as a Threatened species. She filled up on seed and just fell asleep on the branch next to the feeder, her legs hanging limp.
Other non-avian subjects included this Common Cooter (or is it a Red-bellied Turtle?)...
...a Swamp Lily...
...and a Cardinal Air Plant.
While we did not see any storks at Corkscrew, we do have a couple in our back yard!
Miramar, Florida and North Aurora, Illinois