Friday, April 28, 2017

Hiking Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

I probably wouldn’t have found this spot if it wasn’t for Google Earth.  I was looking for areas of interest near the Koreshan State Historical Site and noticed a cluster of photos and a Wikiloc icon so I zoomed in and inspected the area a little more closely.  I’m glad I did – this is a gorgeous area with a 2.5 mile boardwalk.

Tina on the boardwalk
Tina on the Boardwalk

Audobon CenterEntrance to the boardwalk is through the main Audubon building adjacent to the parking lot.  Inside the building is a small museum, a gift shop, and a cafeteria area.  In the center of the building is the main desk where we paid our $14 entrance fee.  There aren’t any paper maps to take with us, but there were plenty of maps along the way to show where we are along the boardwalk.

Squirell's LunchThe boardwalk forms a large loop that circles the largest Bald Cypress Stand in North America.  Starting clockwise around the loop, there is a branch that leads a short distance to the west with a bird feeding station set up.  Squirrels love birdfeeders here just as much as they do in our backyard… the picture on the right wasn’t at the birdfeeder, but he was pretty close.

Dry SwampJust beyond the birdfeeder, there is another branch that leads to the location of an old “Plumage Camp”.  According to the signage, hunters slaughtered hundreds of thousands of egrets and herons for their plumage to be used on ladies’ hats.  They were paid $32 an ounce in the late 1800’s which was about twice the price of gold.  It’s pretty amazing that the bird populations were able to recover.Strangler Fig-1

There is one plant that doesn’t seem to grow as far north as Orlando, but is really something neat to see is a Strangler Fig, and there were a bunch of them here.  Strangler Figs grow like vines all the way up a host tree, wrapping around them all the way.  Sometimes the strangler will kill the host because its leaves will block sunlight to the host.  Further south they will grow large enough to “choke” the host tree.  When the host dies and rots away the strangler will remain, strong enough to support its own weight, leaving a tree that looks like it has a latticed trunk.

Gator smells like dead fish-2With Florida facing drought conditions, the swamp was mostly dry.  Almost no water was to be found except for one pool that had been hollowed out by a gator were momma was watching her babies.  In this picture you can see the vultures surrounding the mother alligator – I suspect that it is because she smells like the fish that are dying all around her.  In the puddle to the left, there are still a few fish alive, and a couple baby alligators.  If they don’t get a lot of rain soon, they will move on and search for water elsewhere.

Pot Plant-3We saw one plan growing next to the boardwalk that surprised me… I’m not sure if it is what I think it is, but it sure looks like it! 

There is also an overlook in the southwest area of the boardwalk.  It looks over an area of small trees and is probably a great spot to sit and do some birdwatching, but we didn’t spend too much time here.

There’s a lot to see in this hidden gem of a trail, so if you’re in the Ft. Meyers area consider making a little drive to the south to check it out.  The entire trip is wheelchair accessible (they even have wheelchairs available at the main building), and it is an easy walk.  Plan on spending about three hours and make sure your camera has plenty of battery power; there are a lot of great photo opportunities.

More photos are in the Gallery

Green Anole-2
Green Anole
Area Map
Boardwalk Map
Gator tracks-4
Gator Tracks
Who Flower-1
Who Flower
Listening to Who Songs

A quick run through the boardwalk

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