Monday, May 10, 2010

Playing the Audubon Card

Last spring I worked for the National Audubon Society at the Francis Beidler Forest Sanctuary in Harleyville, South Carolina. In the office chatter I would always pick up little tidbits about one of their sister sites, Corkscrew Swamp in Naples, Florida. One of the top grossing Audubon enterprises, Corkscrew Swamp brings visitors around a 2 mile boardwalk that weaves in and around cypress, slash pine, and marsh. I always wanted to visit, but never found the time to drive the four hours from Gainesville. This weekend, however, four of my friends and I booked two nights in one of the researchers cabins. Playing the Audubon card, we slept in air conditioned rooms, cooked full meals in the kitchen, and most importantly, were granted unlimited access to the swamp. 

Day 1:
Adam Chasey photographing Alligator Tail and Pond Cypress on the boardwalk.

Within five minutes of getting on the boardwalk we came within 6 feet of a Pileated Woodpecker
and he pecked at a tree for 15 minutes without minding our presence. 

Raccoons came and went, cutting us off on the boardwalk. 

These guys just roamed around looking for crawfish, though the water was high which made
hunting a little difficult. 

Strangler figs wrap around six hundred year old bald cypress.

A view of the boardwalk at sunset.

Alligator tail and bald cypress.

Day 2:

Adam Chasey climbing one of the strangler fig vines. In this photo he is about 30 feet off the ground.

Although invasive, these little brown anoles are fun to watch. The red pouch is call a dewlap
that the males swell in order to attract females. 

Alligator Tail detail.

Green tree frogs were everywhere this time of year!

This is another exotic invasive called water hyacinth. It's pretty, but just to name a few things:
it clogs waterways, impedes sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, depletes oxygen in the water,
and provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The park is going to spray for them next week.

Tillandsia, an epiphyte, grows everywhere here. 

Here's the fun one. We spent forty five minutes playing with flashlights to light up this one part of the canopy
where the big dipper peeks through. We decided just to highlight the rims of the tree to draw you in more to the center. 
Fun times, although the mosquitoes and horseflies were making it a little difficult. 

Day 3

Sunrise on the marsh.

A nice fog rolled in through the slash pines just as the sun came up.

Red ant with dewdrops.

The eyed click beetle has the distinct marks on top of its head. When a bird sees this
beetle from above it appears to be a snake. 

One of the staff, Mike Knight, gave us a tour of the entire swamp property on their famous Swamp Buggy. 

We saw tons of red-shoulder hawks

Tree frog detail on alligator tail. 

1 comment:

  1. Mac Stone, you're an amazing photographer man. Love the pics.