Nature,  Travel

Southwest Florida Bird Photography – Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary located near Naples, Florida is a terrific winter and early spring destination for bird watchers and bird photographers.  Corkscrew Swamp has a 2.25 mile boardwalk the runs through marsh, wet prairie, and woodlands. 

Palm Warbler Winter Colors

Palm Warbler Winter Colors

There is also a shorter 1 mile loop for those that do not want to walk as far. There are plenty of Audubon volunteers out on the boardwalk that are more than willing to answer a question or point out the location of a bird or wildlife.  Walking the Corkscrew Swamp is a terrific way to spend a morning birding or photographing birds and wildlife.

During our trip to Southwest Florida, we also the Venice Rookery, and Myakka River State Park in Sarasota. We used Siesta Key near Sarasota as our home base.  Next trip we plan on staying a little further south as the trip to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was about two hours long. There are also plenty of other good photo ops in the area including the Sarasota Bayfront Harbor, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Sunsets on Siesta Beach. In part one of this blog, I’ll cover the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Corkscrew swamp

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

About the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is located about 2 hours south of Sarasota, near Naples, Florida. The sanctuary is operated by the Audubon Society and has a $10 admission fee, $5 for Audubon Society members. You may also want to bring along some bug spray as we got bit a few times by mosquitoes.  The GPS coordinates for the Corkscrew Swamp are: 26.374742,-81.60357.
Anhinga with Gar, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Anhinga with a Speared Gar

Bird Species at Corkscrew Swamp

We saw many bird species during our walk. We photographed 3 different woodpeckers: Pileated woodpecker, Red-bellied woodpecker, and a Yellow-bellied sapsucker. We also photographed Egrets, Ibis, Little Blue Herons, and a Limpkin. The highlight of the day was watching an Anhinga spear a gar with his bill and then attempt to remove his speared lunch from his bill. We also heard two gators (relatively close) growling at each other and got a picture of one of them amongst the vegetation. We saw a Swallow-tailed Kite soaring above the trees, but we were unable to get a shot.

Equipment

I carried my 500 mm f4 Canon lens and a Canon 7d on a monopod over the length of the 2.25 mile boardwalk. At times, the lens was too long when the birds were near the boardwalk. At other times, I appreciated the length of the 500mm. For those willing to endure a fully loaded hike, a 500mm f4 and a 300mm on your hip might be a good combo.  If you don't want to carry that long of a lens, there were still photo opportunities for a shorter telephoto lens.
 
Alligator in hiding, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Gator in Hiding

 
They have a gift shop and a small lunch facility at Corkscrew Swamp.  Overall, it was definitely worth the trip. I only wish that we were closer to the Swamp for a return visit. The website for the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is at www.corkscrew.audubon.org.
 
To see more of my photos, visit www.martinbelan.com.
 
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