Tag Archives: Florida birds

Four Reasons to Love Southwest Florida in the Fall

Southwest Florida is the definition of tropical. It’s the ultimate vacation spot and the spot every couple looks for in a honeymoon. Summer is drenched-in-sweat hot, but for the other nine months of the year it is a paradise. Here’s what we’re looking forward to as fall comes, temperatures moderate, and snowbirds return to Southwest Florida.


A storm rolls in over the lighthouse on Sanibel.
A storm rolls in over the lighthouse on Sanibel.

1. Long Walks on the beach – Fall and winter are the perfect times to hit the beach in Southwest Florida. While spring and summer feature the bathwater-warm water that some may seek, cooler temperatures in the winter give you a chance to explore. Many beaches in the area – Barefoot Beach Preserve, Bowditch Point, and Lover’s Key come to mind – have nature trails. Some places offer kayak or stand-up paddle board rentals as well.


Courtesy Lee County
Courtesy Lee County

2. Farmer’s Markets  – Farmer’s markets disappear when the weather heats up. The largest in the area is Friday mornings at Lakes Park in Fort Myers. The newest will be Saturday mornings at Florida Southwestern University (Formerly Edison College). Many of the markets include crafts and art as well as fresh fruits and veggies.


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3. Migratory Birds Return – Winter in Florida attracts all types of snowbirds – the literal kind. Shallow wetlands come alive and teem with aquatic life, which brings in all kinds of herons, egrets, and other birds. Winter is a great time to catch a glimpse of many birds, like the white pelican at the J.N. Ding Darling preserve on Sanibel, you don’t get a chance to see during the rest of the year.


Courtesy Mann Center
Courtesy Mann Center

4. Shows at the Mann –  Traveling broadway shows make their homes at the Barbara B. Mann Center in Fort Myers throughout the fall and winter. The 2015-16 series kicks off with the “Sound of Music” in January and features “Kinky Boots” and “Matilda” as well as several other show. Find the complete schedule on the Mann’s website..

Five Tips for an Awesome Autotrain Trip

The Amtrack Autotrain is a little-known but brilliant idea that shuttles thousands of people back and forth between the Orlando, Florida, and Washington, D.C., areas. More precicely, the Autotrain will take you and your car from Lorton, Virginia, to Sanford, Florida, overnight.

The stations are under construction and the seating can be cramped, but it is overall one of the best ways to travel the U.S. East Coast. It also happens to be a lucky coincidence that the train picks me up less than a four-hour drive from my house and drops me off three hours from friendsand family.

With that lead-in, I took the train down once and am writing this from the lounge car of a northbound Autotrain.

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The Story of this Photo IV

A green heron extends its neck at the Six Mile Cypress Slough in Fort Myers, Florida.
A green heron extends its neck at the Six Mile Cypress Slough in Fort Myers, Florida.

Green herons forage along the shore. They have long necks, but to get a good picture – especially close up – is pretty rare. My dad and I were walking the boardwalk at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers this winter. It had been a good day already. We saw baby gators as well as an up-close piteated woodpecker searching for grubs.

As we approached Otter Pond we couldn’t see or hear much. It was early in the winter and there was still deep water in the pond that evening. We looked over toward a protruding tree stump. “What’s that,” my dad asked.

“A Muppet?” I replied.

“That” was a green heron, neck fully extended with its crown fully out. Talking to naturalists later, we figure there must have been something in the lake – likely an alligator – that spooked the heron and caused it’s surprised look. Either way, we feel fortunate to have seen it in such a colorful posture.

(See below for what the green heron looks like with its neck tucked in.)

A green heron wades along the shore.
A green heron wades along the shore.

Sanibel Island Lighthouse … Part 2

The lighthouse beach on Sanibel Island has a rich history (Detailed in Part 1 here). One of the best spots for Southwest Florida birding can also be found on the beach.

Continue reading Sanibel Island Lighthouse … Part 2

Best of the Six Mile Cypress Slough

The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers remains closed for renovations, but when it reopens it will remain one of the best places to find wildlife in Southwest Florida. What can you find there? Read on to find out.

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Birding on Marco Island

Marco Island is renowned for its pristine beaches and world-class accommodations. The birding can be first-class, as well. This is an interesting time of year to visit the Southwest Florida spot looking for birds. It’s not peak migration time, but many nesting colonies of birds have taken over much of Tigertail Beach on North Marco Island. Areas are marked off to protect the flocks of black skimmer, least terns, American oystercatchers, and Wilson’s plovers that call Marco Island home.

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Feeding Frenzy at the Six Mile Slough

Even though some impressive thunderstorms rocked Southwest Florida this week, the Six Mile Slough Cypress Preserve in Fort Myers is a dry, dry place. This might sound like a bad thing, but it’s a natural part of life in Florida for the slough’s wildlife. Around this time of year the ponds get very shallow and there’s no place for the fish, crabs, and other water creatures to hide from the birds and alligators. This creates a “feeding frenzy” where dozens of birds gather in small ponds to feast. (Read on for a photo gallery from the feeding frenzy!)

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Florida, Know Your Birds: Black Crowned Night Heron

The black crowned night heron is a very familiar bird in Southwest Florida. This heron nests around the swampy waters and hunts at dusk in inland lakes and pond. In the Southwest Florida area they are common, especially at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve and the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve.

Continue reading Florida, Know Your Birds: Black Crowned Night Heron