Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Corkscrew Swamp–Naples, Florida

We’re currently in  Fort Myers, Florida

There is a lot to do in this area, and one thing we wanted to be sure to do was go back to the  Corkscrew Swamp.  It’s in Naples, which is about a 50 mile drive. The  cost is  $10 each, but it was well worth the drive and the money.  We’ll do it again.  No discounts.

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a 14,000 acre preserve located near Naples, Florida in the heart of the Western Everglades. It is home to the largest remaining stand of old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America. A 2.25 mile boardwalk trail, which winds its way through 4 native habitats, is open to the public 365 days a year.

Corkscrew Swamp

The boardwalk is wheelchair accessible, and there were several wheel chairs available.  I assume they were free.  It’s a 2 .25 mile nature trail, but there is a shortcut for people unable to make the entire trip.

There is a gift shop and snack bar in the main building.  Here is a picture of a baby alligator in a little fish tank. 

alligator at Corkscrew Swamp

The Audubon Society became involved in this property over 100 years ago to protect wading birds.

Back in those days, women wore hats with feathers for decoration.  The feathers of many birds were  sought for decorating their hats. Many birds nearly became extinct to decorate womens hats.  A group of smart men camped out here to protect the birds during nesting season, and that is how this the nature preserve came to be.

Corkscrew Swamp

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It was one of those perfect fall days in Florida, with the temperature in the low 70’s and low humidity.  There were enough clouds in the sky to make for some pretty pictures.

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Corkscrew Swamp is a “wet prairie”.  Some times of the year, its wet and sometimes it’s mostly dry.  The summer rainy season has just ended, so yesterday, it was very wet.  They have a wonderful boardwalk trail that is 2.25 miles long!

At the start of the boardwalk trail is a sign that lists some of the things you might see and wildlife that has been seen on that particular day.

Corkscrew Swamp

I was surprised to learn that a Painted Bunting had been spotted.  It’s a beautiful red, green and purple bird that I have only seen one time….at Corkscrew Swamp!

This is what they look like.  It is not my picture.  I never got close enough.

Image Detail for   http   hagsrags.files.wordpress.com 2011 05 painted bunting no 1.jpg

There is a birdfeeder hanging that attracts them to a particular spot. When we got there there, we met a guy named Eric.  He had one of those gigantic lenses on his camera and was obviously a bit more of a photographer than me!  He let me hold his camera to see how heavy it was.  Wow…it would have been tough to hike with that thing!  He has an interesting website where he shows his wonderful photographs.   You can visit it here.  You can purchase pictures and he also has some free training videos!  So if you’re like me and could use some help getting those perfect shots, this might be of some help.

While we were there waiting for the Bunting, Eric had some bird calls on his Droid phone.  Sure enough, in just a few minutes this Painted Bunting appeared.  This is my picture. 

Painted Bunting at Corkscrew Swamp

You can barely tell what kind of a bird it is, but Eric confirmed it was a bunting!  It’s the best picture of one I’ve ever gotten (okay, the only one.)

 

There are volunteers that walk the trail all day to help visitors locate the wildlife and learn about the swamp.  They are a wealth of knowledge and if you hang around  one of them, you will learn a lot.

We spent most of the day walking with ranger Keith.  We learned so much more that if we had just walked by ourselves.

One thing he pointed out was a tree called a Strangler Fig.  You can see I the picture below the viney looking thing that appears to be strangling the tree.

strangler fig

We assumed that the vine was growing up the tree, but in fact the opposite is true.  The Strangler Fig Tree has some tasty berries that the birds love. They eat the berries the seeds are excreted and sometimes they will end up in the tops of a tree.  If the conditions are just right, the berries will grow into a new tree.  The roots go down, eventually ending up in the soil.  The actual tree is high up in a host tree, with the roots reaching down towards the soil.

The following picture shows the actual tree that is way up high in another tree.  It does not harm the host tree, at least here.  In it’s native habitat in the rain forest, it can sometimes shade the host tree too much and cause a problem there, but here in Florida the conditions are not quite right for that to happen.  It does not actually strangle the host tree.

Strangler Fig

The board walk trail was beautiful and you never knew what you were going to see next.

Al on boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp

There were lots of flowers.IMG_7548

 

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A Swamp Lily

Swamp Lili

Lots of butterflies

butterfly at Corkscrew Swamp

butterfly at Corkscrew Swamp

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a black racer snake

Black Racer snake at Corkscrew Swamp

It’s a beautiful boardwalk.

Corkscrew Swamp

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boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp

There were quite a few places to sit and rest and just enjoy the view.

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The scenery changes often

Corkscrew Swamp

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Here is an interesting little spider.  It’s called an Okeefenokee Spider.  It was on a tree, right at the water level.  It feeds on small minnows and doesn’t spin a web.

Okenofokee Spider

The next picture is the eggs of an Apple snail. 

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Along the boardwalk you’ll find hand written signs pointing out different things.  The volunteers spot things and then help you to see them.

The following picture is the nest of a Brazilian Skipper (type of butterfly/moth). It cuts the leaf, and folds it on top of itself.

Brazillian Skipper nest

Towards the end there were two spotting scopes set up for you to look through…and no, you didn’t have to deposit a quarter.

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Here is what we saw through the scopes.  Notice the two small gators?  Those are some of her babies.  They take care of them for over a year.

mama gator and two babies

Corkscrew swamp is a major nesting area for Wood Storks.  We didn’t see any there yesterday.

Corkscrew Swamp

They did not nest last year because there last year because it was too wet.  If it’s too wet,  the food sources are spread out too far for them to raise their families.  I guess they figure, if they can’t afford to take care of their children, they won’t have them. Smile

We had a wonderful day at Corkscrew Swamp and ended up being there 4 hours.  We went back to the Painted Bunting area a few times, but never did see another bunting.

Corkscrew Swamp

 

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Have you ever bathed in used water?  They pointed out that all the water on earth is constantly being recycled.  Interesting though, isn’t it?

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We sure enjoyed our time at Corkscrew Swamp and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in nature.  If you hook up with a volunteer, you’ll get so much more out of it.

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Today, is errand day, but we have visitors coming.  More on that later!

8 comments:

  1. Nice trip. Great shots. Thanks.

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  2. Wow, what an interesting post about a very interesting place. I'd love to go there! I can't believe all the things you saw, love the photos. I'm glad they enlarge so much when I click on them. The alligator photo was really neat with the babies; I couldn't see them in the post photo until I clicked on it. The mom looks pretty happy! And the Painted Bunting is gorgeous - isn't it amazing that God (if you believe in God, which I do) created such beautiful, colorful creatures?

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  3. So, did you enjoy your time there? :) Just kidding! I'd sure like to be one of the volunteers there.

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  4. Thanks for sharing. That certainly looks like a wonderful way to spend a day! Enjoy your time in the warmth.
    Syl

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  5. Nice pictures of the park. We sure enjoyed it when we were in the area.

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  6. Great post - sounds like a wonderful place to visit. That bunting is beautiful! Those were tiny alligators with their mother - you see so many interesting things.

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  7. Wow great post about a really interesting place that just went way up on my list. Thanks and the pictures were fabulous!

    Sherry
    www.directionofourdreams.blogspot.com

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  8. Great photos and thanks for a fun trip through the preserve via photos. :)

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