Back to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

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Home to birds, mammals, reptiles, and very nice people—Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has it all. Last winter I made my second visit there, five years after the first. It may have been snowing at home in Colorado, but southern Florida was supposed to be warm—wasn’t it? The day before had been lovely, but this morning dawned damp and gray, with tendrils of fog creeping over the wetlands. I arrived at 7, just as the admissions office opened, knowing I had to be done to meet Pete for lunch. Well, a late lunch, at least! I wanted to make the most of my time as I walked the 2.25 mile boardwalk.

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Is This a Rare Bird?

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Ducks paddling, egrets darting for fish, cormorants spreading their wings in the sun, pelicans heading for splash down… I couldn’t wait to return to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge last February. It was my third visit to the refuge, which is more than I’d ever expected, being that it’s 2,000 miles from home! Located on Sanibel Island, on the west coast of Florida, it’s the perfect spot for a birder to view most of the Florida regulars, plus a few special visitors. And this time, we had a very special visitor indeed. Or not.

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“Ding” Darling Dreams

White Pelicans_DingDarlingNWR-FL_LAH_6696_filtered-001What do you do when you can’t go birding? After 21 years in the same house, my husband and I are moving. The goal is a smaller house, less upkeep, and more time for birds and photography. But in order to reach that goal, we have a lot of sorting and selling and donating to do. So, instead of strolling down the trail looking for winter songbirds, or driving across the prairies looking for raptors, I’m prowling around the house trying to find an object that will fit perfectly in that space left in the moving box I’m filling.

Trust me, it’s nowhere as much fun.

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Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

CorkscrewSwampSanctuary-FL_LAH_6275Florida is a birder’s paradise—if you don’t count the mosquitoes, alligators, fire ants, and other hazards—and one of my favorite Florida birding spots is Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Located more or less in the middle of nowhere, just north of the Everglades, the closest place to stay is Bonita Springs, south of Ft. Meyers on Florida’s west coast.

The 13,000 acre sanctuary preserves the largest remaining stand of old growth bald cypress in North America, along with plenty of plants and animals. I arrived shortly after 7 am, when the 2¼ mile boardwalk opens, and spent the next six hours watching wildlife, taking photos, and ticking off bird after bird.

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