One of my favorite places to visit in southwest Florida is Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, located near Naples, Florida.
I first visited Corkscrew in ’98, during the summer. The water was high and there was abundant wildlife. The drive from Naples out to the sanctuary seemed long, with little development along the county highway. Truly “old florida”, with no golf courses, scant houses, and a few farms. Now, one can scarcely tell where the city ends: housing developments, golf courses, strip malls.
I have most often been to Corkscrew Swamp during the winter months. Even though I know that January is during the dry season, I am always surprised at how dry the swamp is. Last time I was here, nearly two years ago, I thought that the water levels were the lowest that I had seen them. I’m sure that the levels I saw on Tuesday were the lowest I’ve seen them, with entire areas of the swamp dry. There were few wading birds and little evidence of wildlife on the boardwalk. Still, it was a nice walk.
Corkscrew has a 2.25 mile boardwalk through the sanctuary. This boardwalk, elevated above the water, meanders through four different types of habitats: pine flatwoods, wet prairie, old-growth bald cypress forest, and marsh. Except for an occasional plane flying overhead, there are no signs of civilization when you are out in the swamp.
Even though we didn’t see as many birds and animals as we normally do, we did spot many butterflies, squirrels, an anhinga, a few herons, an ibis and a baby alligator. There are always knowledgable guides along the walk as well as signs to help you identify different wildlife. Even if you don’t know a gnatcatcher from an eagle, you should visit Corkscrew if you are in the area. As the video above says: it’s the “real” Florida.
Here is a slideshow of some of the photos I took during my walk through the swamp.