Monday, December 13, 2010

Cool Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the Strangler!

Not all of Florida and Naples is azaeleas, hibiscus, and palm trees, some of it is swamp land....there is a sanctuary that caught my eye by just its name, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. It is located north of Naples and east of Bonita's preserved and tended to by the National Audubon Society. It's a unique walk along a special wooden boardwalk made of pau lope wood from Brazil. They researched then chose this wood for minimal damage to the environment in how it's harvested and that it's eco-friendly. The walk is just a little over 2 miles and takes you through marsh, pine flatwoods, and wet prairie marsh ecosystems. There are naturalists who regularly walk the boardwalk, leaving signs on the railings for things you don't want to miss. The naturalist's signs pointed out an alligator (he must have submerged himself for the night as it was getting very cool in the late afternoon) so we didn't see him. The signs also pointed out a cottonmouth snake, very poisonous, and we DID see him. (That's a LONG zoom, by the way). We actually saw TWO cottonmouth snakes...ugh! We saw some ibis in their natural habitat, a rat-tat-tatting away looking for food, we saw a heron? (photo on right), cleaning his feathers. This does not look like any of the herons I've seen, so maybe someone can tell us if it is or not.  I think that's an egret below lightly treading on the lily pads looking for a meal. It was so light on its feet that the lily pads didn't sink below the water. The sanctuary is also a breeding grounds for the endangered wood stork. There are many different species of birds there, and one of them, the painted bunting, is my favorite that I hope to spot one of these days... we did not see any today although there are supposed to be quite a few this time of year passing through the sanctuary....they are not hanging out by the bird feeders as a bear had been climbing the bird feeder poles in the past and scaring the birds off.

The tree below has a type of fig "strangling" it...but not really. The fig tree has fruits that birds love. Birds excrete the seeds, they fall into the host tree cracks, the fig tree starts to grow up, roots start to grow down. The fig tree can live awhile without the roots touching the ground. If these trees were growing in areas further south, the fig tree would develop a thick, dense canopy and THAT would kill the host tree. We saw quite a few trees wrapped in jungles of roots this way....

Here are a few more photos of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. If you ever get a chance to go, check it's really interesting and beautiful. You need to allow at least two hours to leisurely stroll and notice things...there were no mosquitoes or bugs to bother us this time of year...perfect!  See you tomorrow!

Barred Owl ignoring us


  1. Beautiful, all except the nasty snake. I know they kill lots of vermon, but I just can't like them.

  2. that bird sure doesn't look like a barred owl... but i don't know what it is...

  3. I should have looked at barred owl photos first! You are right, it's not a barred owl although they are at the swamp. I do think it's some kind of owl though. We could just see the ear hole (?) on the side of the head when we were watching it. Where's a naturalist when you need one, darn it! :-)