And we’re back!
Before my trip, I did a literature review of the area, searching Florida birding websites, eBird, etc. I started a list of target birds and target areas near Fort Myers and also purchased A Birder’s Guide to Florida from the Book Bin in Salem*. The book was basically written for birders from (or travelling to) Florida and who want to know exactly where to go to bird. It’s a great book.
While reading this book, searching online, and dreaming of Painted Buntings and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, I happened upon a Fort Myers–area birding club, the Caloosa Bird Club. Formed in 1958 as a mostly seasonal club for birding “snowbirds” (aka future Linda), the club hosts field trips in the Fort Myers area in the winter, and they were holding a field trip to the Corkscrew Swamp during my stay in Florida. I quickly signed up a guest.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
On fieldtrip day, Monday, March 11, I left Fort Myers before sunrise and drove down to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, arrived just after sunrise, found a parking spot, and met with at least 20 other birders and our Audubon tour guide.
The sanctuary is owned by the National Audubon Society. From their website,
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary occupies approximately 13,000 acres in the heart of the Corkscrew Watershed in Southwest Florida, part of the Western Everglades. It is primarily composed of wetlands. These include the largest remaining virgin bald cypress forest in the world (approximately 700 acres), which is the site of the largest nesting colony of Federally Endangered Wood Storks in the nation. (Audubon 2019)
This place is an oasis. We birded all morning along the boardwalk trail that travels through cypress swamps, pine flatwoods, and wet prairies. The birding club members were also very gracious; because I was an out-of-state guest, they did their best to make sure I saw nearly every bird. At first, before they remembered my name, I’d hear “Where’s the guest?!” “We’ve got the bittern!” They also have club hats and nametags that they wear. Of course I wanted both.
In all, the group collectively saw 61 species that morning! Highlights or lifers for me were Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager (the trip bird!), Anhinga, Indigo Bunting, White-eyed Vireo, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Tufted Titmouse.
Ok, time for photos—some good, and some for the sake of simply seeing a particular bird. Enjoy!
I love that this trip to Florida included not only new birds, but also new birding friends/contacts. I can’t wait to bird with this group again next year.
My eBird checklist from the fieldtrip is here.
National Audubon Society. 2019. The Sanctuary. Available at: http://corkscrew.audubon.org/about/sanctuary.
* The Book Bin in Salem has become a sort of book-version of the Room of Requirements for me. If I have a book in mind (or really a topic I hope is covered in a book), I simply need to walk in there with intent, and within 15 minutes in the store, I find the exact book I need. I don’t even need a wand for this (even though I have one). This Florida birding book is one example, but another time, I went in looking for a book on telemark skiing, and they had such a book.