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Christmas in Florida

Part 5:  Oscar Sherer and Myakka River State Parks

I was originally planning on hitting Myakka State Park first the next morning, but got going late, so went to Oscar Sherer first since it was closer.  I think it turned out to be a good choice, as towards the end of my time there a couple of bus loads of school kids came in, and by coming here first I beat them to the White Trail!  I'll explain later, but upon entering (and I got there just as he opened the gate!) did the Lester Finley Trail first, which is a great little trail along the creek where a Catbird greeted me first thing, as well as the usual suspects.  While I was sitting in the oak woodland at the end of the trail, some parakeets of some kind went screeching by, out of sight of course (all I could tell is that they weren’t Budgies...)!  A Fish Crow with a particularly funny-sounding "kaa-haa" went powering overhead on the way back.


Scenes along the Lester Finley Trail at Oscar Sherer with Gray Catbird  

Ran into some maintenance guys who told me that the Florida Jays were best found on the White Trail over by the Nature Center, so off I went, finding the beginning of the Blue, Black, and Yellow Trails as well!  Behind the Nature Center were the Green and Red Trails, but a nice fisherman showed me where to find the White Trail (clear on the other side of the parking area of course), but in my wanderings around the playground found another wonderful pair of Pileated Woodpeckers and a pretty Cardinal feeding.

Birds hanging around the nature center...


Cardinals and Mourning Doves


Mockingbird and Pileated Woodpecker

Drove over to the parking area for the White Trail, and I had barely gotten out of the car before I heard a harsh "shaaak!"  Sure enough, there was a pair of the jays poking around the palmettos, and as I pished at one, I though he was gonna land on my head!  They were wonderful!  A little ways down the trail (which was mostly open scrub, it looked like) it met up with the Blue Trail, so I took that back to the parking area, making a nice loop.  A pair of Sandhill Cranes flew overhead, and several towhees whistled at me, a female finally deciding to show herself!  A Pine Warbler foraged in a pine (of course) at the resting spot.  The Red Trail went through the campground and out into more habitat that looked great for Bachman's Sparrows, but just got a Flicker out of it, and lots of Butterbutts...


Scrub habitat along the White Trail, home of the endangered Florida Scrub Jay


Female Eastern Towhee along the White Trail (the Florida race has white eyes)


The Blue and Red Trails respectively

From there headed up to Myakka River SP, and what a place!  Sure was popular, too!  The first place I stopped was where a bridge crossed what may have been an oxbow lake, but there were some great things about: both White and Glossy Ibis, a flock of Least Sandpipers, a Greater Yellowlegs, and several Alligators lazing on the shore!  Headed up the Scenic Drive, where you shortly pass Upper Myakka Lake, where I picked up some distant White Pelicans as well as more Glossy Ibis.  A little further up a regal pair of Sandhill Cranes fed right on the shore!  I stopped every half mile (or tried to) just to listen, and at one point I pished up (or would like to think I did, anyway J) a young Bald Eagle who came tearing in close overhead!  A Green Heron objected as well...  Tons more Palm Warblers popped up, and these all appeared to be the "Brown" type.


Entrance road to Myakka State Park and critters along the river...


L-R:  Little Blue Heron, Glossy Ibis, and White Ibis


Sandhill Crane on the lakeshore and Alligators and turtle lazing on the bank

Before long I came to the "Birdwalk", so I dragged the scope out the boardwalk and joined the ranger and another family who was enjoying looking through his scope!  I thought I had seen Avocets fly in earlier, but they were just too far away to tell, but the ranger did indeed have three snoozing away, as well as some Black-necked Stilts, Long-billed Dowitchers, American Wigeon, Forster's Terns, and a few Dunlin.  What may have been the same young eagle sailed in and caught a fish, and before long the little boy spotted the adult eagle across the way on the shore, leisurely taking a drink!  After a discussion on digi-scoping, I left them with the eagle and headed back, picking up a Lesser Yellowlegs on the way.


Boardwalk to the Birdwalk, with the overlook and habitat around the lake


Bald Eagle and snoozing Avocets

Reached the end of the road pretty quickly (for some reason I thought it was seven miles, but it wasn't), so I hiked a little of the High Fox Trail, which joined up with the Low Fox Trail; I took this into the woods and added Blue-headed Vireo to the list, but nothing else new (tons of gnatcatchers, though).  On the drive back out picked up Mottled Ducks in the lake close to shore.

Headed down to Fort Meyers after that with 62 species for the day. 

Continue to the Fort Meyers Area

Return to Hillsborough River Area