Friday, August 13, 2010

Non-Gardening Related Field Trip

While on my way to a favorite little consignment shop just south of my home, I noticed a sign for the Great Florida Birding Trail.  Intrigued, I changed my plans and went to check it out.  The sign led me to E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin, FL.   This is a Hillsborough County park located on Tampa Bay.  There is a public beach area, several picnic areas, camping facilities, and nature trails. 

The view from the "beach" was a little hazy but it was easy to make out downtown St. Petersburg with Tropicana Field's white dome. 

There were many water birds to see along the beach area:  Willets, Seagulls, Ruddy Turnstones were just a few of the different species hopping around on the sand. 

Much of the adjacent land was overrun with Brazilian Pepper trees so it was refreshing to find that the County has begun planting native vegetation in this park.  This Simpson's Stopper provides red berries the birds love.  There were lots of Mangroves waterside as well.

Other native plantings included Sea Oats and Beach Daisies. 

As a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail, this area did not disappoint.  This particular stop on the Trail is listed as a good site for beginners.  That would describe my "birding" abilities.  Juvenile Ibis were abundant for viewing.  Some were skittish for the camera but these two let me take their picture. 

This Great Egret was less accommodating.  Everytime I stood still and aimed my viewfinder his way he would fly off.  If I began walking away he would return and settle down to resume his foraging in the flooded field.  He was so beautiful to watch in flight but I just wasn't quick enough with the camera.  Very regal isn't he?

The Roseate Spoonbill was definitely my favorite bird to see this day. 

Pink is my favorite color.

I know it looks like this little fella' is running away from me, but in reality, I was running from him and his two buddies.  Just as I was returning to my truck, they came out from the palm fronds and rushed toward me.  They must have thought I had food.  I quickly jumped in my truck and started the engine which stopped the forward rush.  Since raccoons can often carry Rabies, I wasn't taking any chances.  I'm just glad I was close to my vehicle when I encountered them.  Cute little guy though, isn't he?

According to The Great Florida Birding Trail website there are many more locations near me.  I just might take a little gardening break now and then and check out these great birding sites. 


  1. Oh, how lucky! I've been hoping to sight a roseate spoonbill forever! I need to get over to the coast more! Don't you hate when people feed wild animals that are known to be vectors of rabies? I would've run to had a raccoon been so bold. Beautiful photos, NanaK!

  2. That's some great wildlife photography. Also the water pics help cool things down in the broiling Florida August heat. Well done!

  3. I love that Roseate Spoonbill too! It turns out a good change of the plan! Very refreshing view! As of raccoons, I won't blame you running as fast, I would do the same thing. I guess I took that picture AFTER you got into the car :)

  4. Nice roadtrip and what a spectacular looking spoonbill!

  5. Those raccoons can be very aggressive once fed by humans... yikes... very maddening to encounter.

    Florida is wealthy with parks and places to see birds and wildlife. So nice you are taking advantage of what's right in your neighborhood.

    Love all the bird photos. The Spoonbill is one of my faves too... they are so unusual and so nice to see them up close.

  6. What a nice little trip, and I'm always happy to see a simpsons stopper tree, wherever it is.

    What palm tree was in the water with the ibis'? It looked like a queen palm from the base, but I had read that they need well drained soil.

    Also, I have all sorts of horror stories about raccoons attacking us or trying to intimidate us on our camping trips. One jumped on the picnic table and swiped them right in front of my fiance. She was terrified. They have also formed gangs and tried to surround me, dispersing only after enough large rocks were thrown. The gravel had no effect!

  7. Floridagirl - We do get to see Spoonbills quite often in my area. They frequent drainage ponds alongside the road usually singly.

    sanddune - Amazingly, it was a bit cooler out there by the bay than in my more inland garden. I can't imagine the heat in South Florida now. I enjoyed taking pics of the wildlife. I'll have to take more opportunities to do so.

    Ami - Those spoonbills were definitely the icing on the cake. Yes, I was back IN my truck when I took that picture of the raccoon:)

    Darla - Thanks and yes, anytime I can see a Spoonbill I love it. To be able to get those pictures was really a special opportunity for me.

    Meems - I felt pretty foolish during my encounter with the raccoons. I was just so SURPRISED! I kept thinking how glad I was I didn't have the grandkids with me. I am trying to make a point of seeing more of the areas set aside for "natural Florida" and must say I am enjoying it.

    RFG - I think it was a Queen Palm. There was an attempt being made to plant natives at this park, but it was a new venture and much of the old plantings were still there. Those palms were in a flooded field which maybe isn't always so wet as we had recently had several rainstorms. I can now relate to your raccoon adventures. They were pretty scary.

  8. What a great diversion on a hot summer's day. This spot is a mecca for birds. So many great pics.


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