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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Corkscrew Watershed

February 10th, 2013 · 2 Comments

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Sharon and I liked Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary so much that we explored it three times during our January visit to Southwest Florida even though it was the farthest place we went to from the condo that we rented on Pine Island. This Audubon Society site includes the largest remaining stand of bald cypress in North America, and the birds love it. Consequently, we did too.

Walking through a swamp can be tricky. You need high rubber boots and have to watch out for quicksand, mud, and deep holes, to say nothing of deadly water moccasins and alligators. Sharon and I each considered buying rubber boots, but we independently decided not to. Instead we stayed on boardwalks whenever we went to swamps. Walking through Corkscrew Swamp was a pleasure on its 2 1/4 mile boardwalk.

Corkscrew Swamp lies in the center of the Corkscrew Watershed at the heart of the western Everglades. I wondered how this area got its name until I saw a sign at Corkscrew Swamp that explains that “Early settlers named Corkscrew Swamp for the twisting, turning path of the coastal river they traveled up in search of fresh water.”

We also visited two other parts of this watershed, the Corkscrew Marsh and the Bird Rookery Swamp. But the Corkscrew Swamp takes the cake.

I knew that two special birds lived in the swamp, but I didn’t really hope to see either of them. In fact, I saw both of them.

Early on our first visit I got my best shot of a bird that is so unbelievably colorful that we call it “painted.” This is a male Painted Bunting.

A Male Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) is Blue, Red, Green and Brown

A Male Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) is Blue, Red, Green and Brown

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The Painted Bunting and the Northern Cardinal are related. Both are members of the cardinal family.

The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Is as Colorful in its Own Way as the Painted Bunting

The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Is as Colorful in its Own Way as the Painted Bunting

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The Indigo Bunting is another relative of these two colorful birds.

A Juvenile Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) is Becoming Blue

A Juvenile Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) is Becoming Blue

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I didn’t find the other special bird that I most wanted to see until the very end of my second visit to Corkscrew Swamp. The eyes of owls captivate me, and in general they are my favorite birds. No Barred Owls live in Colorado, and I had never seen one before. But at 4:40 p.m., just before the Audubon Society closed the sanctuary for the night, I saw my first one.

A Barred Owl (Strix varia) Rests Before Its Nighttime Hunt

A Barred Owl (Strix varia) Rests Before Its Nighttime Hunt

Click on the picture above to enlarge

At the Bird Rookery Swamp we walked down a gravel path at the start of our hike. I almost stepped on this snake, but looked down just in time.

This Snake Doesn't Look Friendly, Even Though It was Just Trying to Get a Suntan on the Trail

This Snake Doesn't Look Friendly, Even Though It was Just Trying to Get a Suntan on the Trail

Click on the picture above to enlarge
This Red-shoulder Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Looks Proud

This Red-shoulder Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Looks Proud

Click on the picture above to enlarge

At the third unit of the Corkscrew Watershed that we visited, we saw a different Red-shoulder Hawk.

As This Hawk Flew Over Us, Its Red Shoulders Are Clearly Visible

As This Hawk Flew Over Us, Its Red Shoulders Are Clearly Visible

Click on the picture above to enlarge

This area is more than an hour and one-half from where we stayed on Pine Island. But these pictures show that the long drive was worth the effort.

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Posted in: Florida

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jessica // Mar 1, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Your photography just gets better all the time!!

  • 2 steve // Mar 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    always enjoy your photos (along with the great articles)
    thanks

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