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Corkscrew Swamp Santuary

February 5 ~ Naples, FL

Story by Ray Hennessy February 24th, 2017

My final photo outing during my time in Florida was to a location I heard over and over again I should visit, Corkscrew Swamp near Naples. I finally set aside some time and made the trip and while I was somewhat underwhelmed with the spot I did manage to get some nice photos out of the trip. I was told by some regular visitors that the water levels were off from normal (I can't recall if they were too high or low) and that caused many of the birds normally found there to relocate.

I arrived right at sunrise but it was unfortunately mostly overcast so the first few photos of the day were taken in very limited light. Corkscrew Swamp is just as it sounds and is a very wet location so you are limited to explore by walking around an expansive set of boardwalks that wind throughout the park. The first bird I saw was a lovely Red-bellied Woodpecker clinging to a palm tree, a classic Florida photo.

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After grabbing that shot I went to a spot that had a feeder hanging that attracted many Painted Buntings. As I mentioned though there wasn't much light and I figured since the buntings should be feeding there most of the morning I would try my luck later. I walked around a corner and found myself surrounded by a nice mixed flock of warblers. The first to come in close and give me some great photo opportunities was a Black-throated Green Warbler pictured below.

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Next up was a lovely Pine Warbler featured below. I hung out with the warbler flock just a bit longer before they moved on in their never ending quest for tiny insects to eat. I spent the next hour or so wandering around the boardwalks and enjoying the scenery which was certainly beautiful. It was pretty slow at the park that early so I only crossed paths with a handful of people which is how I like it. I did eventually find a Pileated Woodpecker, the largest in North America and I followed it around for a couple minutes trying to get a clear photo through all the trees. I eventually got a decent photo through a small opening in the branches as it clung to a moss covered tree with its large red crest held high.

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I looped back around to the entrance to the park where I had originally spent time with the Painted Buntings so I stayed to try my luck again. The hard part of photographing these beautifully colorful birds around a feeder is trying to get them on a natural perch. They tend to fly out of deep cover directly to the feeder and then back to hide again. As with most tiny songbirds they are quick moving so it requires some time and luck to have one land on an open branch in decent light and stay long enough to point the lens and get focus. I did manage a few photos that I was happy with and I wrapped up my visit at the park.

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While talking to another visitor to Corkscrew Swamp they informed me of another location not too far away that could sometimes be productive so I decided to stop there to check it out before I left the area. I don't recall the name of the place unfortunately but there were well groomed trails and even a short boardwalk that went through a swampy area. I captured a few decent photos during my short visit, one of the Double-crested Comorant below and the last of this post the Pied-billed Grebe. It was a nice ending to one of the most incredible months of wildlife photography of my life so far. I hope you have enjoyed following along in this series and if you missed any of the earlier parts of this series please check back to my profile to see the others.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples FL