On Sunday, I had the great fortune to make a road trip down to southwest Florida to visit Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, along with two friends from NAPP, Michael White and Bob Arlen. The late spring is generally a good time in Florida for birding, and we hoped to get a chance to exercise our photographic muscles. Rather than head out the night before, we toughed it and left our respective homes prior to 4am (!) in order to make it to the sanctuary by opening time of 7am. The weather cooperated, as the powerful storms that were threatening Florida held off until later Sunday night.
The tone was set for excitement as we spotted an 8-point buck near the park entrance. Deer that size are rare in Florida! We proceeded into the sanctuary, cameras ready and with bated breath. Alas, two natural occurrences prevented the day form being everything it promised: due to the cold Florida winter, there had been no wood stork nesting activity in the Sanctuary this year, and due to the unusually wet winter, there was a lot of water everywhere – so instead of the birds congregating in the center of the swamp, there were very few wading birds in sight.
We did manage to see a variety of birds, images below; the list we spotted included pileated woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, swallow-tailed kite, red-shouldered hawk, turkey vulture, Carolina wren, catbird, great blue heron, and a few great egrets.
This Carolina wren serenaded us beautifully from the treetops, then dropped to eye level to pose for a few images:
We spotted several young red-shouldered hawks, and even got to watch one as he stalked, then captured and devoured a small frog:
On the way back, Michael White and I also stopped at the Venice Rookery, where we watched quite a few pairs of great blue herons, great egrets, and anhinga tending to their young. Herons and Egrets in breeding plumage are a beautiful sight to see!