Nature,  Wildlife

Bird Photography at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida

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.

About Corkscrew Swamp

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is located inland from Bonita Springs, Florida.  Corkscrew Swamp is about 30 minutes west of the Immokalee Road exit on I-75 between Bonita Springs and Naples. The GPS coordinates for the Corkscrew Swamp are: 26.374742,-81.60357.

The sanctuary is operated by the Audubon Society and has a $12 admission fee, $6 for Audubon Society members. You may also want to bring along some bug spray as we got bit a few times by mosquitoes.  

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

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 one trip was watching an Anhinga spear a gar with his bill and then attempt to remove his speared lunch from his bill.  We also saw a Swallow-tailed Kite soaring above the trees, but we were unable to get a shot.

We found a spot on the on the eastern side of the sanctuary at the edge of the woods that was great for song birds.  We photographed Palm Warblers, Carolina Wrens, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a Pileated Woodpecker.  We ended up staying in this one spot for over an hour as the birds came to us.

Also, make sure you check out the bird feeders close to where you enter the boardwalk.  We spotted a pair of Painted Buntings near the feeder.

Anhinga Spears a Gar

Anhinga with Speared Fish

Equipment

I’ve used both my Canon 500 mm f4 lens and the Canon 100-400mm II with a 1.4X Telephoto Extender III at Corkscrew Swamp. You’ll want the 500mm+ focal length for photographing the smaller song birds.  There are also opportunities for shorter focal lengths for wading birds and song birds landing close to the boardwalk.

They have a gift shop and a small lunch facility at Corkscrew Swamp.  Overall, Corkscrew Swamp is definitely worth the trip for Bird Photographers. It is one of my favorite spots to photograph birds.

The website for the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is at www.corkscrew.audubon.org.

While you’re in the area also check out the rookery on Shady Hollow Road, it’s on the way back to I-75.

Written by Martin Belan

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