This post is photo intensive; we went on our first southern FL field trip to see the birds and got carried away. Friday we finally were done with all of our chores around the rig and Connie was done working for the week…so we got up early and after a quick stop at Chik-Fil-A for a breakfast buritto headed off to Immokalee, FL for a visit to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. We made many a trip over to this sanctuary back during our college days at the University of Miami…but this was the first time we have been here since 1976 or so.
Upon our arrival we discovered that there was a prescribed burn taking place in part of the sanctuary That wouldn’t have been so bad if it was just a burn but as time would tell there were other issues during the first half or so of our 3 hour hike around the 2.5 mile boardwalk in the sanctuary.
After paying our entrance fee we headed out and the walk started pretty quiet and void of bird watchers. Neil got a shot of Connie on the boardwalk right after they started.
and shortly afterwards the spotter plane showed up. He spent most of the next hour and a half circling again and again and again right over the sanctuary; usually at 300 feet altitude or less. Neil was pretty convinced that he was deliberately trying to scare all of the wildlife away. The water was still pretty high though; the waders will be more prevalent in a month or so as the levels drop to the winter and they get into the nesting season.
As a result; the grand total of wildlife for the first half of the hike was a buttterly and this White Ibis that conveniently landed on the boardwalk railing right in front of Neil.
Finally; the spotter plane must have run out of gas so he went away and shortly afterwards the wildlife and our moods started to improve. First up was a Great Egret near the walk
and then they saw this Pie Billed Grebe; it’s really rare to see one of these very close up as they are really a skittish bird.
Right after that there was another Great Egret (also known as a Great White Heron) again conveniently perched on the rail. Neil got some really good shots of the early stages of the mating plumage followed by a shot as it launched itself into the air from about 20 feet away on the railing.
along with a little flower Connie liked near the boardwalk.
Next up was an Anhinga drying his wings after a fishing trip (this bird dives and swims underwater hunting fish for food.
Next up was an open lake area called Lettuce Pond; and they really hit it big here. Although the pictures are pretty far across the pond they saw a Black Crowned Night Heron
and immediately to his left Neil was able to get a Kingfisher and a Yellow Crowned Night Heron in the same frame.
The Kingfisher is center top and the Yellow Crowned is center right in the picture although both are pretty hard to see. Seeing Night Herons in a tree in the daytime is even rarer than seeing a close up Grebe.
They also saw a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher
followed by a Baltimore Oriole
and a Striped Mud Turtle and small gator near the far side of the pond.
Finally, right before they left the Pond a Red Shouldered Hawk landed immediately over their heads, scaring all of the smaller birds off; she then flew off into the woods hunting easier prey I guess.
At this point we were almost 3 hours into the hike so we started back for the parking lot. Unfortunately this group of old ladies power walking and jabbering to beat the band passed us up and pretty much scared all of the wildlife off for the last half mile or so of the walk. They did see a pair of Red Bellied Woodpeckers
along the way along with what they thought was a Yellow Shafted Flicker but Neil somehow didn’t get a picture of that one.
Getting back to the car we headed the hour or so home for lunch followed by some of Connie’s Something Different Meatloaf recipe (Neil makes it but Connie invented it when she unknowingly thought right after they were married that substituting Graham Cracker crumbs for Cracker Crumbs in a meatloaf recipe would be good. Turns out she was right and it’s the only meatloaf recipe they’ve made for the past 36 years.
We ordered some new stuff for the rig this week…the wheel covers to protect them while we’re parked came in and Neil installed them. They have a new water filter setup and an outside table to set their drinks on coming next week.
Tomorrow it’s off to Mass at St. Andrew Parish for Connie’s first day singing in the choir here in Fort Myers; then we’re off to Marker 92 Waterfront Bar and Bistro for her birthday dinner.