Friday, 1 May 2015

Corkscrew swamp- Florida Day 8

Our final full day of exploring the states was perhaps also the best day as we went to visit Corkscrew swamp sanctuary.
Panorama of the Cypress Swamp at Corkscrew

What is Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary?
Corkscrew covers around 13,000 acres of mainly wetland habitat but most importantly has the last 700 acres of pristine bald cypress swamp in the world!

It was established in 1954 by the national Audubon society when a realization swept the local population that the felling of the cypress swamps for the valuable timber was soon going to wipe out this habitat.

Today it home to the largest nesting colony of woodstorks in the states not to mention a variety of other endangered or threatened species.

Our Visit
We set off along the 2.5 mile boardwalk around the reserve and about 5-6 hours later I emerged after exploring this fantastic place.

I enjoyed my visit for two main reasons really.
Cypress Tree (Taxodium distichum) which has been 
commandeered by a Strangler fig
  (Nyssa aquatica)

Firstly its diversity of all kinds of animal and plant life (See species List at bottom of the page) all of which can be attributed to my second reason.

Never before have i come across a place where the influence of hydrology on habitat can be so clearly seen. Although i have visited the sanctuary before in 2012 its only now after studying wetlands that this was made apparent to me.

From one spot on the walkway its possible to see slash pine forest, wet prairie and cypress swamp in one view. Each distinct habitats created by a change in elevation and therefore water level by just a few feet.

The amount of other interesting things that i saw on my walk around the sanctuary would be too long to list but i will name a few highlights.

  • Males of both the native Green anole (Carolina anole) and the invasive,Cuban, Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) displaying their Dulaps to attract a mate
  • Black Racer Snake (Coluber constrictor priapus) on the hunt
  • The flag Iris flower (Iris versicolor)
  • The Size and presence of the Cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) 
  • The intricate roots of the strangler figs (Nyssa aquatica)
  • Two Raccoons (Procyon lotor) running under the boardwalk
  • Banded Water Snakes (Nerodia fasciata) mating the in swamp
  • The beauty of the cypress swamp

Sadly this was the last full day of our trip with the next day being the long journey back towards orlando airport and then home.

I hope you have enjoyed joining me on this great trip through florida's wetlands it was truly upsetting to leave it all behind!

Left top to bottom- Wet Prairie bordered by Cypress swamp in the foreground and slash pine in the distance, Flag Iris (Iris versicolor). Center - Bald Cypress tree (Taxodium distichum). Right top to bottom - Native Green Anole (Carolina anole), Invasive Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)

Species List


Common Name
Latin Name
Anhinga anhinga
Swallow-tailed Kite
Elanoides forficatus
Painting Bunting
Passerina ciris
Grey Catbird
Dumetella carolinensis
Red-tailed Hawk
Buteo jamaicensis
White Ibis
Eudocimus albus
Great White Egret
Ardea alba


Common Name
Latin Name
Strangler Fig
Ficus aurea
Slash Pine
Pinus elliottii
Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto
Wax Myrtle
Myrica cerifera
Cabbage Palm
Sabal palmetto
Salix caroliniana
Horrible Thistle
Cirsium horridulum
Brazilian Pepper
Schinus terebinthifolius
Bald Cypress
Taxodium distichum
Water Tupelo
Nyssa aquatica
Saw Grass
Cladium jamaicense
Spanish Moss
Tillandsia usneoides
Alligator Flag
Thalia geniculata
Red Maple
Acer rubrum
Resurrection Fern
Pleopeltis polypodioides
Pond Apple
Annona glabra
Flag Iris
Iris versicolor
Strap Fern
Campyloneurum phyllitidis
Boston Fern
Nephrolepis exaltata
Inland Leather Fern
Acrostichum danaeifolium
Water Fern
Salvinia minima
American Elder
Sambucus canadensis
Water Lettuce
Pistia stratiotes


Common Name
Latin Name
Brown Anole
Anolis sagrei
Green Anole
Carolina anole
Alligator mississippiensis
Black Racer Snake
Coluber constrictor priapus
Banded Water Snake
Nerodia fasciata

Common Name
Latin Name
Procyon lotor

Common Name
Latin Name
Apple Snail
Pomacea maculata
Fishing Spider
Dolomedes albineus
Ruddy Danger Wing Butterfly
Marpesia petreus

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