Three Weeks Birding in Florida - Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary occupies covers around 13,000 acres in the heart of the Corkscrew Watershed in Southwest Florida, part of the Western Everglades. It is primarily composed of wetlands, including the largest remaining virgin bald cypress forest in the world. Corkscrew Swamp provides important habitat for many birds, rare animals and plants and is a must-see site for birders in the area: it will not disappoint the British at any time of the year who wants to see the head-line birds of the region from close quarters using the board-walks provided.

Wood Storks are easily viewed from the board-walks although I was troubled to hear that they have not nested here for several years: this is at odds with the website so I am confused by this statement: I certainly did not see any signs of nesting from the boardwalks themselves (I recall 20 years ago not being able to access part of the boardwalk system due to nesting wood storks).


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A Wood Stork creates a shadow as he hunts for small fish.

Our visit to Corkscrew this year was very successful with the low water levels encouraging many birds including Limpkins, Roseate Spoonbills, Grebes, Anhingas White Ibis to feed close to the boardwalks. Pictures of them can be viewed as always on my Flikr Feed by clicking on the picture above.

The highlight of the day was certainly the incredible close views of a Barred Owl as it hunted for food in the shallow water and mud almost at our feet! The bird completely ignored the many human viewers as we took many many photographs.



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Barred Owl.

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Barred Owl.
I  find that kingfishers and woodpeckers always cause the heart-beat to increase as well so we were well-seven by good views of Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers as well as a fishing Belted Kingfisher. The ability of the Canon 80D to deliver good images at high ISO's was tested though in the heavy shade of the trees.



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Pileated Woodpecker.

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Downy Woodpecker.

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Belted Kingfisher.
The day was a hot one and there is little shade on parts of the boardwalk with the humidity inevitably being very high (although flies were not a problem at all) so water is essential for drinking if photography is to be un-interupted: the visitor centre will provide cold drinks and snacks at the entrance however. It was amusing to see a Night-Heron sun-bathing as we left the Sanctuary after a day of birding.



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A Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron sun-bathes in the evening sun.
As I said at the top of this piece, Corkscrew Sanctuary is a place that should be included if at all possible on a birder's wish-list if travelling in Florida - Naples is a good place to stay or Cape Coral as they offer good links to the Everglades and Sanibel Island: more about Sanibel Island and Ding Darling next (along with some thought on avoiding the traffic which can be horrendous at times.

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