Painted Bunting.... Corkscrew Swamp. This bird was no doubt one of my top highlights of the trip. There was two pair in and out of the shrubs near the feeders behind the visitors center and unfortunately, they did not make picture taking very easy. This was the best out of many. It doesn't get much more gorgeous than this.
Anole? I think?? Corkscrew Swamp
My best friend John and I were able to spend some time birding the first week of March in South Florida. We made "Ding" Darling NWR and Corkscrew Swamp two of our three primary destinations. Both were winning destinations that I would highly recommend to anyone, especially birders.
Our first day was at Ding Darling NWR. From the moment you step foot into this refuge you know you are in a good spot. It just feels birdy! The main attraction is the auto tour through the refuge. The drive winds you through mangrove waters that are connected to the Gulf of Mexico so as you tour you are able to witness the tide and the change of landscape throughout the day. Everywhere you look there are Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Snowy Egrets, White Pelicans, and Anhingas. The list goes on and on.
Barred Owl... Corkscrew Swamp. This lovely creature was a great daylight surprise! Not only were we able to get some great looks but we were also able to get some good looks at its dinner. Can you see its prize?
Ovenbird... Corkscrew Swamp
Our second day was spent at Corkscrew Swamp. A property owned by the National Audubon Society, Corkscrew Swamp in nothing short of absolutely amazing. I mean, how can it not be, I got two lifers in my first 10 minutes! Shiny Cowbird and Painted Bunting. Could it get any better? Yes! We spent about 4 hours on a two mile boardwalk soaking up of the atmosphere as possible. The boardwalk takes you through several eco-systems that are each unique and all beautiful. Some of the amazing birds we saw during the visit were Black and White Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Yellow-throated Warbler, White Ibis, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Anhinga, and many, many more.
If you haven't been here, you have GOT to go!
Cattle Egret... near Corkscrew Swamp. There was no shortage of this species especially along the roads, in the fields, ditches, etc. I was excited every time I saw one.
Red-shouldered Hawk... Corkscrew Swamp. This was one of several Red-shouldered Hawks I saw during our visit. Each one of them seemed to be more unique than the previous. They made a ton of racket!
Osprey with prey... Ding Darling NWR. A day or two in the area and this was one of the most common sights. What a pity, right? This particular one is enjoying a rather large fish.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron... Ding Darling NWR. This was the first close encounter we had in the refuge. I couldn't believe it. The bird was so focused on food that it could have cared less about our presence.
Tri-colored Heron... Ding Darling NWR. This is one of my favorite birds to watch hunt in the shallow waters. Very sleek and very good at catching food. Awesome!
Snowy Egret... Ding Darling NWR. There were hundreds of these beauties throughout the property making all kinds of racket. They (like most of the birds) weren't at all concerned about our presence and displayed themselves like movie stars!
To learn more about these two awesome properties please visit their websites.