Saturday, March 16, 2013

Corkscrew Swamp, March 10, 2013

We arrived back in Florida on Thursday, and on Saturday we drove out to stay on Marco Island for a couple of nights and meet up with some friends who are visiting family in Naples. We had planned time for birding while there, and on the way back and forth. On the first day our route took us out I-75 ("Alligator Alley") through the heart of the Everglades and Corkscrew Swamp.

We always look forward to our visits to the National Audubon Society Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, about 100 miles west of our South Florida home. During winter, it is a reliable place to see Painted Buntings and Pileated Woodpeckers, two very photogenic birds, not to mention the Red-shouldered Hawks, Barred Owls and all the herons that may be observed conveniently from the boardwalk.
Corkscrew Blair Center HDR 20130310
Although other visitors said they had seen Painted Buntings at the feeders just outside the back door of the Center, we saw none and decided to look again on our way back. A pair of Common Ground-Doves fed on seed that had scattered under the feeders.
Common Ground-Dove 3-20130310
A female Northern Cardinal visited the feeder and got up close and personal.
Northern Cardinal 20130310
A Red-bellied Woodpecker joined the feast.
Red-bellied Woodpecker 20130310
Yes indeed, its belly is (a tiny bit) red!
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3-20130310
An interpretive sign provided a map of the varied habitats as the boardwalk courses from the higher dry ground to the central marsh (click on images for enlarged views).
Corkscrew Swamp Map 20130310
The well-maintained boardwalk loops 2.25 miles through these habitats. beginning with a dry Slash Pine woodland, a wet prairie, and this stand of Pond Cypress.
Corkscrew Swamp Boardwalk HDR 20130310
Near the start, a four foot long Yellow Rat Snake slithered slowly under the boardwalk,
Yellow Rat Snake 20130310
A Southern Blue Flag Iris bloomed in the wet prairie.
Wild Iris 20110330
A Barred Owl dozed not far from the edge of the boardwalk in an area of mature Bald Cypress and hardwoods.
Barred Owl 20130310
At the Lettuce Lakes we saw long-legged waders, including this White Ibis.
White Ibis 20130310
A Little Blue Heron hunted in the pond...
Little Blue Heron 20130310
...while a preening Great Blue Heron's contortions were amusing.
Great Blue Heron 20130310
A roosting Great Egret scratched its chin.
Great Egret 20130310
Baby American Alligators were being watched over by a parent.
American Alligator baby 20130310
We did not get good looks at many warblers. Most were high in the canopy, but a Pine Warbler put in a brief appearance.
Pine Warbler 2-20130310
Northern Parulas were singing all around, but few provided open shots. This as about the best I could do.
Northern Parula 20130310
Several Great Crested Flycatchers attracted attention by calling out "Weep!"
Great Crested Flycatcher 2-20130310
We got only fleeting glances at Pileated Woodpeckers and Red-shouldered Hawks, but were rewarded at the sight of two male Painted Buntings after we exited the boardwalk. If Mary Lou had not insisted on waiting at the back window for their return I would have missed the best photo opportunity I've ever had with this stunningly beautiful species. I took over 50 images and cannot decide on my favorite.
Painted Bunting 7-20130310

Painted Bunting 3-20130310

Painted Bunting 2-20130310
For old times' sake, here is a Red-shouldered Hawk I photographed at Corkscrew earlier this year. It is wearing "jewelry."
Red-shouldered Hawk 20110313


  1. your painted portraits are gorgeous!!! way to go!

    loved the ground dove, too. always love your birdie posts!

  2. Beautiful birds and photos, Ken! Corkscrew sounds like an awesome place to visit, I plan on stopping there myself during my upcoming vacation. I love the Painted Bunting shots. Have a happy weekend!

  3. A lovely post, great photos with a lot of details!

  4. So loved this journey with you! The painted buntings are extraordinary! I would be very excited to capture these! An amazing mix of colours on the wings! And the great blue heron is certainly very clever at twisting around! Great photos!

  5. Amazing place to visit ... Wonderful photos.

  6. Since I started going on birding outings armed with my camera, I haven't yet spotted a painted bunting. But I WILL!!! They're gorgeous.

    Your images are superb...all of the birds, wildlife and flora. EXCEPT for the snake...ewww, I hate snakes. lol

  7. Beautiful series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  8. The Painted Bunting, oh how lovely, so lovely, Ken! I remember a visit to Corkscrew Swamp several years ago, saw my first Red-shouldered Hawk there, sitting in an open tree very close to the tower.

  9. What a great place to go for gorgeous shots! That bunting is beautiful!

  10. Beautiful shots, some of these birds are so pretty. Seems like a great place to visit.

  11. It looks like a fascinating place to visit and of course the Painted Buntings would be the star of any show!

  12. What an outing! the buntings are amazing.

  13. I can remember the first time I saw a picture of a Painted Bunting - I thought it was a joke! I friend of mine bands the Knot that feed in the crab eggs - small world!

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  14. Beautiful photos! I was quite enamored with the red-bellied woodpecker until I saw the painted bunting! Such wonderful bird photography. Enjoyed your images very much.

  15. Beautiful shots!
    what a great place to visit.

  16. Beautiful place to visit the Painted Bunting is beautiful.

  17. Great stuff/post I am visiting FL from the UK (based on Sanibel) from next weekend 30th March and really looking fwd to a visit to Corkscrew Swamp. I have been twice before and it has never disappointed. All the birding best. Martin -

  18. What a wonderful place and what splendid images you made of your visit! Love that owl!

  19. This is a great post and I will have to share with my husby, as his family used to vacation there long ago. I really like all of the different wildlife you saw, and wow to see that Barred Owl right there so close, how wonderful! Of course just about any place near where you were would not be complete without a sighting of a red-shouldered Hawk. The Bunting images, glorious~

  20. Thank you all for visiting and for your wonderful comments!


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