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Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary eNewsletter
View of bald cypresses in the swamp.
Gratitude From the Sanctuary Director
As I wrap up my first year as director of this amazing place, I would like to express my gratitude for the remarkable support I have witnessed on many fronts. Over the past 12 months, we have accomplished so much, including educating tens of thousands of students and adults through increased programming, stewarding more acres with fire than we have in many years, advancing our large-scale wetlands restoration project, and sharing our science with stakeholders in the region and around the state.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone for sharing their expertise, kindness, and generosity. I am awestruck and inspired every day to raise the bar and achieve even more. If you’re not already a volunteer, member, or donor, please consider joining us as we lead the charge into 2024—a milestone year as the Sanctuary celebrates its 70th anniversary with a suite of special events and exciting announcements.

In partnership,

Keith Laakkonen, Sanctuary Director
Bald cypresses along the boardwalk. Photo: Zeida Cecilia-Mendez, photographer in residence.
Photo of a songbird perched on a branch.
Celebrate Birds on January 5 and February 2!
Did you know? Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is typically within the top 25 birding hotspots in Florida according to eBird, an online community science platform for recording bird sightings worldwide. With more than 23,000 checklists submitted from the Sanctuary since the platform was established in 1995, visiting birders have reported 263 total species from the boardwalk alone.

In honor of the many birds that live at or migrate through Corkscrew Swamp, the Sanctuary invites you to participate in a variety of onsite programs and activities for National Bird Day on January 5. The lineup includes guided walks, bird-related classes, guided forest bathing meditation, and a presentation by artist John Costin, among other activities.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary continues to celebrate Florida's waterbirds and wetland wildlife in honor of World Wetlands Day on February 2. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy guided tours, story time, a photography exhibit unveiling, and other activities to kick off the Sanctuary’s 70th Anniversary in 2024.
Palm Warblers are winter residents in Southwest Florida and frequently spotted from the boardwalk. Photo: Donald Sawin
Screenshot from Elvis' video on YouTube
FGCU Student Completes Service-Learning Project about Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Elvis Velasquez is a junior majoring in entrepreneurship at Florida Gulf Coast University. The Immokalee resident has a deep connection to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, first fostered on a field trip to the Sanctuary as a fourth grader attending Pinecrest Elementary School.

"I am intrigued by the beautiful side of nature and the many ways organizations have tried to make a positive impact on the environment," says Elvis, who offered his skills in music production and photo/videography for a project that focuses on the importance of preserving our environment for future generations.
 
A young man holding a net on the boardwalk.
Elon University Student Conducts Insect Research at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary continually encourages scientists to conduct research that advances our ability to conserve special places like ours. Earlier this fall, Tyler Myers, a senior at Elon University in North Carolina, visited the Sanctuary to collect insects as a permitted visiting researcher. The Naples native knew that Corkscrew Swamp was a hotspot of biodiversity and an excellent location for his project.
Tyler Myers conducting his project on the boardwalk. Photo: Shawn Clem/Audubon Florida

Scroll past the news for more information and events!

in the news graphic
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the News
Born From Fire, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is Now Slowly Drying Out and a Solution is Proving Elusive
https://news.wgcu.org/top-story/2023-11-08/born-from-fire-corkscrew-swamp-sanctuary-is-now-slowly-drying-out-and-a-solution-is-proving-elusive
Audubon Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary contains the largest virgin old-growth bald cypress forest in the world, with some trees 25 feet around.

Swamp Sanctuary Receives $30,000 Towards Watershed Research Amidst Water Shortage
https://www.fox4now.com/golden-gate/swamp-sanctuary-receives-30-000-towards-watershed-research-amidst-water-shortage
The Corkscrew Audubon Swamp Sanctuary is home to many species of plants and animals. Plus, it is a peaceful oasis for many who utilize its miles of walking trails and bird watching. Now, a grant by the Collier Community Foundation is helping keep this place the sanctuary it is and helping more people learn about the watershed amidst a county-wide water shortage.

BIRDWATCH: Exploring the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
https://www.pembrokeobserver.com/opinion/columnists/birdwatch-exploring-the-audubon-corkscrew-swamp-sanctuary
Several years ago, I accidentally stumbled on a unique nature and bird watching area called Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

10 Florida Cities To Visit That Aren't Key West But Are Just As Scenic
https://www.thetravel.com/alternative-scenic-cities-to-visit-in-florida-besides-florida-keys/#naples-florida
Adventurous visitors can opt for sunset cruises to enjoy the views against the backdrop of glimmering blue waters. Also, the wetlands and wildlife of the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp are the most popular.

Why Monitor Mammal Populations for Conservation?
https://naples.floridaweekly.com/articles/why-monitor-mammal-populations-for-conservation/
Protecting more than 13,000 acres of wilderness in Southwest Florida is both a big job and part of the mission of Audubon staff at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
 
FAU student encounters one of the most elusive animals — the Florida panther
https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/local/boca/2023/11/20/fau-student-endangered-florida-panther-sighting/70852495007/
Eventually, I narrowed it down to a few places — the Florida Panther National Refuge, Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Picayune Strand State Forest and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.
 
Trek the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Next Week
https://www.naplesillustrated.com/trek-the-corkscrew-swamp-sanctuary-next-week/
Take a guided walk on December 8 and learn about the plants, flowers, and wildlife found in a beautiful and underappreciated habitat at Explore Corkscrew’s Pine Flatwoods held at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples.
A group of people posing on a platform overlooking a wetland.
Supporter Spotlight
Just over 50% of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s annual operating budget is funded by generous philanthropic supporters. We would like to extend a special ‘thank you’ for a few recent gifts that are advancing our work in key priority areas for the year ahead.
  • The Collier Community Foundation recently awarded the Sanctuary with a $30K grant for our conservation program, supporting wetlands restoration, habitat stewardship, and data collection that guides these important activities.
  • The Athletic Brewing Company, a Connecticut-based, nonalcoholic brewery, provided a $10K grant to support the annual upkeep and maintenance of our beloved boardwalk through their Two for the Trails grant program.
  • Finally, we are grateful to those who joined us on Giving Tuesday by making contributions and purchasing items on our wish list to furnish our onsite housing, which accommodates seasonal educators, interns, and visiting scientists.
We would be grateful for your support if you would like to join us in our conservation and education efforts at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Our development team is happy to speak with you further on ways that you can make an impact.
The Collier Community Foundation grant committee site visit with Sanctuary conservation team
Close-up of an alligator.
Rainfall and Water Level Update
After a dry October, the Sanctuary experienced twice the average amount of rainfall in November, bringing our water levels up substantially and allowing the fish and other prey species to spread out once again. 
American alligator. Photo: Donald Sawin
A flock of shorebirds at the beach.
Migrating Red Knot Recorded by Corkscrew’s Motus Station
On August 6, 2023, the Motus wildlife tracking station at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary recorded its first migrating bird of fall: a Red Knot. Red Knots are federally threatened shorebirds that breed in the Canadian Arctic. Data from the Motus network confirmed this Red Knot embarked on its northward journey from South Carolina on May 29. On July 13 it was detected on the shore of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, Canada. This Red Knot evaded further detection until August 4 when it pinged a tower in Ohio, and on August 6 in Vero Beach before crossing Florida near the Corkscrew station.
Red Knots on the beach at Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Photo: Pamela Cohen
Events and Other News
Headshots of new and returning staff.
Welcome New and Returning Seasonal Visitor Center Staff!
We are so excited to be able to extend our hours of operation and provide visitors with fresh food options at the Cypress Café every day. This would not be possible without new and returning seasonal staff in our flock. Please help us welcome David, Valarie, and Joanne as our new Visitor Center associates, Chris as our new membership program assistant, and Tony and Trish as Café attendants.  See the Cypress Café menu.
Top row, left to right:, Valarie Nelson, David Treissa, Trish Baker. Bottom row: Chris Jackson, Joanne Johnson, Tony Capasso.
A group of people wearing matching shirts posing outdoors.
Thank You, Pro-Ampac Volunteers!
Earlier this week we welcomed a group of volunteers from Pro-Ampac, a global, flexible packaging company based out of Cincinnati. After hearing a brief overview of our mission and receiving safety training, the group of 14 volunteers rolled up their sleeves, broke into teams, and got to work painting our administration building and trimming back vegetation in the parking area. We cannot thank corporate groups like this enough for their interest, energy, and generosity.
Pro-Ampac volunteers at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Colorful artwork showing flowers and birds
Bairiki Trunk Show TODAY!
Do your holiday shopping at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Nature Store! Jan Barwick offers beautiful silk scarves, bags, art prints, journals, and more, all featuring her colorful, nature-inspired paintings. Shop Bairiki's exclusive print, "On the Edge of Lettuce Lake," inspired by Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. You'll find the perfect gift for the nature lover on your list! While many pieces are available in the store currently, Bairiki owner Miranda Barwick Philbin is on hand TODAY until 3 p.m. to help you select the perfect piece from the collection during our Trunk Show.
Bairiki art is available for purchase in the Nature Store and online.
A close-up photo of a butterfly on a green leaf.
Upcoming Events
Check out these upcoming tours and events!

Family Sunset Stroll | Dec. 18
Early Birding Tour | Dec. 19
Ancient Forest Tour | Dec. 20
OPEN Christmas Day | Dec. 25
OPEN New Year's Day | Jan. 1, 2024
Corkscrew Night Tour | Jan. 3
National Bird Day | Jan. 5
Member Lecture: Plants for Birds | Jan. 5
Sunset Stroll | Jan. 24
Corkscrew Night Tour | Jan. 25
World Wetlands Day | Feb. 2
  View our Calendar of Events.
Long-tailed skipper. Photo: Donald Sawin
DONATE
Donations and memberships provide crucial support for conservation work at the Sanctuary. From December 15 through April 30, the Blair Audubon Center and boardwalk are open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. with the last admission at 3 p.m. Online tickets are recommended at www.corkscrew.audubon.org/visit
CONNECT WITH US
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Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Rd., Naples, FL 34120 USA
(239) 348-9151 | corkscrew.audubon.org

© 2024 National Audubon Society, Inc.

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