Jan 10, 2010

At Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

After the Holidays I spent a few days in Bonita Springs, Florida with my family. On a late afternoon I dedicated a visit to the nearby Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. This wildlife sanctuary is located just east of Fort Myers and rewards the photographer with a pristine habitat for nature photography. The water in the slough is always on the move although visitors often think of it as an area of small lakes with surrounding swampy areas. In fact though the water always flows like a shallow, slow moving river.

The 1.2 mile boardwalk guides one through different areas of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. Pine woods lead into the cypress slough that is made of the hardwood transition area, flag ponds area in the center of the preserve and small islands of higher elevation called hammocks. The most visible and beautiful forms of wildlife found in the slough are permanent residents such as raccoon, grey squirrel, five-lined skink, red-shouldered hawk, woodpecker, heron, wild turkey, turtle, southern black racer, branded water snake, cottonmouth and alligator. Visitors that may pass through the slough are bobcat, river otter, deer and even black bear. During my short visit I encountered alligator, turtle, ibis, anhinga, egret and many other birds. Lots of the forest floor is covered with beautiful swamp ferns. Sage old cypress trees tower above and cypress knees that provide the cypress trees with additional support in the wet soil are everywhere.

That evening I deviated from my color photography and adventured out to capture the preserve in B&W photographs. Ferns, bromeliads, cypress trees and knees lent themselves for this experiment. Gator lake at the beginning of the boardwalk is spectacular in the evening hours. On my way out I decided to take one last look at the lake. Because of the interesting sky formation I was hoping for stunning reflections in the lake but was awarded with an unexpected spectacular nature setting. Flocks of egrets and other birds were flying in and landing in the one area of shrubs and trees opposite of the overlook. There were probably a hundred birds looking for a good night sleep. The early wee hours may even provide better photo opportunities for this setting but I had to settle for the evening pictures.

I certainly will return to the beautiful six mile cypress slough preserve to experience more then the glimpse I got of the mysteries of this swamp.