Corkscrew Swamp

While camped at the Koreshan State Historic Site in Florida last week we decided to check out Corkscrew Swamp about a 30 mile drive from the campground.  It’s one of the premier natural areas in Florida.

Corkscrew Swamp

Welcome to Corkscrew Swamp, web pic.

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Corkscrew Swamp Blair Audubon Center, web pic.

The busy roads and the extent of the commercial and residential development in the southwest corner of Florida take a while to get used to. It feels a little like a sprawling outdoor warehouse for those of us trying to escape the cold northern winters. In many places there appears to have been little regard for any natural aesthetic. However, in it’s defense, the area is no different than any other location in the US facing rapid population growth.

So when we arrived at the huge area set aside and know as Corkscrew Swamp we were pleasantly surprised by the natural beauty. Access to the area is limited to a roughly two mile long boardwalk but there’s still lots to see. Unique to the swamp are the 500 year old Bald Cypress Trees. The largest virgin stand in the world. However, what was really attracting us were the birds. We didn’t see the Painted Bunting we hoped to that day but did see a Purple Gallinule, a rather strange looking bird with big feet related to the American Coot.

Below is some of what we saw the day we were there:

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Great Crested Flycatcher, Corkscrew Swamp

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Great Crested Fly Catcher, study 2, Corkscrew Swamp

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Red Shouldered Hawk on nest, Corkscrew Swamp

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White-eyed Vireo, Corkscrew Swamp

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White-eyed Vireo, study 2, Corkscrew Swamp, Donna

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Bald Cypress, Corkscrew Swamp

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Boardwalk, Corkscrew Swamp

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Alligator, Corkscrew Swamp

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Swamp Lilly, Corkscrew Swamp

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Purple Gallinule, Corkscrew Swamp (note the big feet!)

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Purple Gallinule, study 2, Corkscrew Swamp

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Pileated Woodpecker, Corkscrew Swamp

Black and White Warbler, Corkscrew Swamp

Black and White Warbler, Corkscrew Swamp

A Little South of Ohio

Originally this blog it was to be only about nature in central Ohio. Going forward it will continue to focus primarily on Ohio but In an effort to share same of our other adventures it will from time to time will include posts covering travels elsewhere.

Winter in Columbus, Ohio

Winter in Columbus, Ohio

It’s been a cold, snowy, winter in central Ohio so we decided to head to Florida for a little break. Since our interests often combine paddling, photography, and nature we decided to head for Koreshan State Historic Site near Fort Myers. The park, which is located on the Estero River, offers camping, and would be our base camp for seven days as we explored the area on foot and by canoe. The park partially preserves buildings that comprised a small town established by a religious sect in the late 1800’s. The Koreshan sect was founded by Cyrus Teed, a charismatic religious leader with some unusual views.

Koreshan Settlement 3, pic from the web.

Koreshan Settlement 3, web pic.

Koreshan Settlement, pic from the web.

Koreshan Settlement, web pic.

Koreshan Settlement 2, pic from the web

Koreshan Settlement 2, web pic.

Koreshan Settlement, pic from the web.

Koreshan Settlement, web pic.

The park turned out to be quiet and quite good for wildlife viewing.

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Typical campsite, Koreshan State Historic Site, web pic.

While there was some power boat traffic on the river as you headed out towards the bay, it was still nice for paddling.

Estero River Koreshan State Hist Site

Estero River Koreshan State Hist Site

Dragon

Band-winged Dragonlet, Koreshan State Historic Site, Donna

Flwr 3 Koreshan State Hist Site

Broad leaf Arrowhead Flwr 3 Koreshan State Hist Site

Flwr 2 Koreshan State Hist Site

Flwr 2 Koreshan State Hist Site

Flwr 1 Koreshan State Hist Site

Flwr 1 Koreshan State Hist Site

Carolina Wren Koreshan State Hist Site

Carolina Wren, Koreshan State Hist Site

Bamboo Koreshan State Hist Site

Bamboo, Koreshan State Hist Site

Zebra Longwing on flwr Koreshan State Hist Site, Donna

Zebra Longwing on flwr, Koreshan State Hist Site, Donna

Zebra Longwing Koreshan State Hist Site

Zebra Longwing, Koreshan State Hist Site

White Ibis with frog Estero River, Donna

White Ibis with frog, Estero River, Donna

Water Bugs, Estero River

Water beetles,, Estero River

Tri-color Heron, Estero River

Tri-color Heron, Estero River

Tree Koreshan State Hist Site

Strangler Fig, Koreshan State Hist Site

Slash Pine Koreshan State Hist Site

Slash Pine, Koreshan State Hist Site

Pileated Woodpecker Koreshan State Hist Site

Pileated Woodpecker, Koreshan State Hist Site

Pelican, Estero River

Pelican, Estero River

Palm Warbler 2 Koreshan State Hist Site, Donna

Palm Warbler study 1, Koreshan State Hist Site, Donna

Palm Warbler 1 Koreshan State Hist Site

Palm Warbler study 2, Koreshan State Hist Site

Osprey, Estero River

Osprey, Estero River

Mullet, Estero Piver

Mullet, Estero Piver

Mackerel, Estero River

Mackerel, Estero River

Live Oak, Estero River

Live Oak, Estero River

Little Blue Heron Estero River

Little Blue Heron, Estero River

Lichen, Koreshan State Hist Site

Colorful lichen, Koreshan State Hist Site

Large Tree at waters edge  Estero River

Large Strangler Fig at waters edge, Estero River

Tall Bamboo, Koreshan State Hist Site

Tall Bamboo, Koreshan State Hist Site

Flwr 5 Koreshan State Hist Site

Flwr 5, Koreshan State Hist Site

Flwr 4 Koreshan State Hist Site

Flwr 4, Koreshan State Hist Site

More posts will follow covering our trips to “Ding” Darling NWR, Corkscrew Swamp, Six Mile Cyprus Slough, Lovers Key State Park, and exploring the Mangroves by canoe.

White-winged Scoter

With rumblings that Snowy Owls had reached central Ohio we thought it might be a good day to head  to Prairie Oaks Metro Park. If there happened to be a Snowy Owl there, maybe we would be one of the first to see it. That would make for a very cool title for this blog.

But as you may have guessed, we didn’t see a Snowy Owl. Still cold when we arrived at the park, several intrepid souls were standing along the shoreline of one of the ponds with binoculars and spotting scopes. As we panned our binoculars through a large group of Canada Geese occupying open water, one person said, “Did you see the scoter?” I was embarrassed to admit that, at the distance we were from the birds, I was lucky to be able to tell that they were birds much less whether they were Mallards, Mergansers, Scoters or what ever. So I replied, “I think so.” Fortunately with a little more concentration and a look through a spotting scope, not necessarily in that order, I did see the scoter, a White-winged Scoter! Looking at our field guide we deduced that it was rare bird in these parts. Pretty exciting!

White-winged Scoter, Prairie Oaks

White-winged Scoter, Prairie Oaks (strictly a data acquisition pic, Canon SX40, 35x zoom, cropped)

After observing the scoter, we decided to head off into the park to see about the Snowy Owl. While there was no Snowy Owl for us today we did enjoy views of the Big Derby, some frozen fungi, and the usual small bird suspects. At one point a Red-tailed Hawk flew overhead with an unfortunate squirrel in it’s talons. A while later a Cooper’s Hawk crossed our path. Intent on getting our binoculars on the hawks we got no pictures. However my wife did manage to get a nice picture of a Robin. The White-throated Sparrows, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Juncos, Morning Doves, and Blue Jays just wouldn’t sit still.

Mallards on the Big Darby, Prairie Oaks

Mallards on the Big Darby, Prairie Oaks

Fungi turkey feathers, Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fungi turkey tail, Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fungi Ruffles family, Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fungi family, Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fungi Polypore looking underneath, Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fungi Polypore looking underneath, Prairie Oaks, Donna

Robin, Donna

Robin, Donna

Frozen Pond, Prairie Oaks

Frozen Pond, Prairie Oaks

Big Darby, Prairie Oaks

Big Darby, Prairie Oaks

Big Darby Ice, Prairie Oaks

Big Darby Ice, Prairie Oaks

Big Darby looking north, Prairie Oaks

Big Darby looking north, Prairie Oaks

Canada Geese, Prairie Oaks

Canada Geese, Prairie Oaks

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Thanks for stopping by.

Some of The Best of 2013 – Nature in Central Ohio

Below are some of my favorite pictures from this year. Not always because they were the sharpest, best composed, or otherwise exhibited technical excellence, but because they made me smile or invoked a sense of wonder.

What makes them really special is that they were all taken within a 50 mile radius of our house. Those who have visited Columbus Ohio may have left with the thought that it’s a pleasant enough place but not on your list of destinations that possess spectacular natural beauty. What probably would be noticed, more than the city, state and metro parks such as Clear Creek Metro Park, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Alum Creek Metro Park, and Glenn Helen Nature Preserve, are the numerous shopping malls, freeways and sprawling housing developments, none of which seem to be part of any vision of a larger overall aesthetic.

So our goal has been to dig deeper, look closer, and wouldn’t you just know it, every once and awhile, beauty appears that rivals that experienced on any of our far away travels.

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Trout Lilly

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Spring, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Spring, Clear Creek Metro Park, Ferns and Flowers

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Glenn Helen Nature Preserve

King Bird - Alum Creek

King Bird, Alum Creek Metro Park

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Backyard Cardinal

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Osprey, Alum Creek Metro Park

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Crab Apple Blossoms, Blues Creek

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Rusty Blackbird, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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Male Redstart, Clear Creek Metro Park

Yellow Warbler - Alum Creek

Yellow Warbler, Alum Creek Metro Park

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Alum Creek Metro Park

Celandine Poppy

Celandine Poppy, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Griggs Reservoir Park

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Tufted Titmouse, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Nuthatch, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Alum Creek Metro Park

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

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Fishing for The Big Catch

It was a beautiful Friday morning for fishing below the dam at Griggs. Early showers gave way to a clear blue sky even before the sun rose above the trees on the eastern bank.

A Kingfisher flew along the tree line looking for a better perch from which to stage his next ambush of an unsuspecting fish. Not far away a Great Blue Heron watched as I paddled up the river. An Osprey called in the distance.

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Kingfisher

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Osprey

Unlike many days this spring and summer, today the water ran clear so extra caution was required not to spook the fish with my 14 foot canoe. A few casts produced the first of what would be four Smallmouth Bass. None were real big but they all were fun to catch and  a challenge on my ultra-light equipment.

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Smallmouth Bass

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<<<>>>

Our outdoor trips in central Ohio are often punctuated with a certain amount of trash pickup as we look for wildlife, insects and interesting plants and flowers. This trip was no exception but called for a return trip to the river later that day for what would prove to be my biggest catch. My wife was gracious enough to indulge me and photograph the event.

Bob Picking up tire (2)

The Big Catch

Bob coming back with tire

Too heavy to lift but thankfully it floats!

Bob almost back

Out of the river!

Unlike the Smallmouth Bass this was one catch that wasn’t returned to the river!

It’s Spring in Central Ohio

It’s been a long winter that has had a hard time letting go but slowly it is happening with signs of life everywhere!

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Transition

Transition, Prairie Oaks

Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot, O’Shaughnessy

Mystery Bird!

Mystery Bird!, O’Shaughnessy

Spring Pond

Spring Pond, O’Shaughnessy

Frog in Pond

Frog in Pond, O’Shaughnessy

Very small minnows in pond.

Very small minnows in pond, O’Shaughnessy.

Egrets in flight.

Egrets in flight O’Shaughnessy.

Marsh Marigolds - Below Griggs Dam

Marsh Marigolds – Below Griggs Dam

Redwing Blackbird - Prairie Oaks

Redwing Blackbird – Prairie Oaks

Tufted Titmouse with spring fever.

Tufted Titmouse with spring fever.

Buffleheads - Prairie Oaks

Buffleheads – Prairie Oaks

Hooded Mergansers - Big Darby Prairie Oaks

Hooded Mergansers – Big Darby Prairie Oaks

Great Egret - O'Shaughnessy

Great Egret – O’Shaughnessy

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Thanks for stopping by.

Bald Eagles Over The Scioto

Pretty exciting stuff, on our way home from a recent hike at Prairie Oaks we saw a Bald Eagle flying over the Scioto River near the Scioto Country Club. That happened after we were already excited about seeing a Golden-crowned Kinglet and Pileated Woodpecker during our hike. We were also treated to sightings of White-throated and White-crowned sparrows while at Prairie Oaks. The next day, just as we walked into the park along Griggs Reservior we saw another Bald Eagle flying north along the reservior, perhaps the same bird. Fresh snow at Prairie Oaks, and at Griggs Park the next day, made for very enjoyable hiking but the Bald Eagles made it magic.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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