Saturday, March 3, 2012

A visit to Corkscrew Swamp

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.

Corkscrew Swamp boardwalk 20120131

At any time of year, a visitor can expect to see Pileated Woodpeckers.

Pileated Woodpecker 3-2008_12_04

We got breathtaking views of Red-shouldered hawks.

Red-shouldered hawk 3-20120131

A pair were engaged in courtship above the boardwalk.

Red-shouldered hawks courtship 20120131

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.

Northern Parula 20120131

Pine Warblers were abundant.

Pine Warbler 3-20120131

I accidentally caught this Pine Warbler as it flew from its perch.

Pine Warbler 20120131

We saw two Black-and-white Warblers.

Black-and-white Warbler 20120131

Tufted Titmice were vociferous.

Tufted Titmouse 20120131

There were quite a few Great Crested Flycatchers.

Great Crested Flycatcher 3-20120131

White-eyed Vireos were present but elusive. Last March, this one posed along the boardwalk.

White-eyed Vireo 20110313

The light was poor in the understory, so this photo of a Summer Tanager came out badly.

Summer Tanager 20120131

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.

Carolina Wren 2-20120131

A male Anhinga was decked out in breeding colors-- plumes and green "goggles."

Anhinga 2-20120131

A Little Blue Heron's head swayed back and forth, helping it judge the distance of an underwater prey item.

Little Blue Heron 20120131

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).

Great Blue Heron 20120131

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.

Sleepy and pregnant squirrel 20120131

Other non-avian subjects included this Common Cooter (or is it a Red-bellied Turtle?)...

Slider 20120131

...a Swamp Lily...

Swamp Lily 20120131

...and a Cardinal Air Plant.

Cardinal Air Plant 20120131

While we did not see any storks at Corkscrew, we do have a couple in our back yard!

Miramar, Florida and North Aurora, Illinois


  1. A lovely post and beautiful images Ken. It is sad to hear that Wood Storks are struggling in Corkscrew Swamp. I miss going there, I always found it so peaceful.

  2. Wonderful post and photos Ken. Lovely walk through.

  3. I visited Six Mile Slough in Ft Myers in mid-Feb. There were just a few Wood Storks there. I have seen more than 100 there in the past. Great article. I've only been to Corkscrew once but will make it back again one day!

  4. It looks like Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a glorious place to visit for viewing wildlife. How very sad the the Wood Storks will not be nesting in the area this year. Your photographs are marvelous! You have really captured the "feel" of the sanctuary through your wonderful images. Thank you for sharing such beauty.

  5. Many nice pictures youve got here, I like the Woodpecker and the Hawk.
    Greets from Sweden / Kenny

  6. Incredible birds! I am a big fan of birds in flight with photography....and I LOVE that one you caught of the warbler. They are so tricky to capture on camera. By the time you focus, they zip off!!! This kind of trip is up my ally....I've always wanted to see this type of environment. I'm puzzled by the storks....where are they going to nest? Great finds and as always, great post:)

  7. Ken, you always present beautiful and interesting photos series. What it must be to spend a day with you along the nature trail!