What We Saw At Lettuce Lake

April 5, 2014

Last week we took a short trip to Florida.  On a day that forecast some rain we headed with our umbrellas to the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida.  It is a little north of the Everglades and it was just a fascinating morning.  Everywhere we turned we saw a captivating bit of natural wonder.  In fact our admission fee was good for two days, so we returned the next morning and saw more birds.

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I believe this is a Prothonotary Warbler.  Dan took this picture of a migrating bird that the Audubon guide told us had just come to the swamp two days earlier.

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The first day a guide along the walkway stopped us to point out this barred owl.  We were also able to located two quite large babies in two nearby locations.  The mother was keeping track of them and maybe taking a few daytime naps, too.

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The next day we saw two different barred owl babies that were still way up in a bald cypress tree.  You can see the face of one and some feathers below of the second owl.

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Landmark Cypress 8.  There were 12 landmark cypress trees, each with a little story about their backgrounds printed nearby.  Many of these trees are 400 to 500 years old.  Think about that!  The vines surrounding the tree trunk are strangler figs.  The owls seemed to make nests high up in bald cypress trees.

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We saw this Anhinga on the same branch both days.  It apparently spreads its wings to dry them out.

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Great Egret.  These birds were almost killed to extinction for the plumes used to decorate women’s hats.  The Audubon Society was created to stop this slaughter.  These birds are still threatened by agriculture and development, which has been taking away their habitat.

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Lettuce Lake at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.  Birds, alligators, and turtles are among the residents of this pond in the bald cypress swamp.

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A little blue heron hunts on lettuce lake.  It was walking on top of this “lettuce.”

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We got many nice pictures of this little blue heron, but I like this one where you can see the plumes fluffed up.

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Nearby was an immature little blue heron, which still had its white coloring.  I was so thankful for the Audubon guide who quickly identified the pictures on my camera, or I would have been confused by this one.

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While a group of us had stopped to look at the Anhinga, an alligator emerged from the swamp and everyone became silent as they observed this creature we had all been hoping to see.

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Florida Redbelly Turtle at Lettuce Lake.

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Gray Catbird.  I had a distant picture of a catbird in the cypress trees, but after we finished our walk this bird came up to our table hoping for some crumbs.

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Red-shouldered Hawk.  On our second visit to corkscrew swamp sanctuary this hawk let us take several pictures while he kept an eye on us.

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Red-shouldered Hawk.

Other sightings included:  a blue-gray gnatcatcher, a great-crested flycatcher, a black-crowned night heron, many white ibis, black vultures, zebra longwing butterflies, and what appeared to be an eastern mud snake.

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17 Responses to “What We Saw At Lettuce Lake”

  1. Looks like it was a great trip!

  2. Beautiful photos! What a great trip!

  3. Grower said

    That is a Prothonotary, one of my all time faves. Beautiful pics.mthanks for sharing them

  4. bittster said

    great pics, and it sounds like you had a nice visit.
    We went there one winter and I was amazed by the amount of wildlife we saw in such a small area. It really was helpful to have the guides there pointing things out, I know I would have never spotted an owl otherwise!

  5. wardentee said

    Wow! You really got to see a lot. The owl babies are wonderful. From the sounds outside our home the other night, we will have a family of owls sometime soon! I may have to put this place on my go to list for camera trips. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Beautiful pics, thank you for giving me insight into your American birds, some are similar to our Australian ones, such as your Anhinga is similar to our Darter, which also dries its wings outspread. You will see the White-faced heron on my current blog, and it was great to see your blue faced one. I am looking forward to more of your great photography, thanks heaps!

    • Thank you! I have only been to Florida twice, so these birds were an adventure to me, though some of them come north to Illinois in the summer. I would love to see Australian birds!

      • I feature fortnightly changes to my site, featuring birds and their habitats from all over Australia, I am very encouraged that so many Americans are interested in our birds. I have been blessed to meet several when we are out birding, and they have been lovely people. Thanks again for your great pics, and I will be following for sure!

  7. Pam said

    Beautiful pictures, and a lovely spot.

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