Anyone who has trekked some of the parks and preserves in Sarasota County knows there are many great protected, wild habitats for birding and nature photography. It’s another rainy and gray day, and since I couldn’t head out to the trails, I decided to compile a list of my hotspots — in no particular order. If you’ve got a go-to “patch,” or local birding locale you visit regularly, please feel free to share in the comments!
OSCAR SCHERER STATE PARK: In April, we were treated to a surprise above the pine flatwoods at this 1,384-acre sanctuary for wildlife and native flora.
In addition to hiking trails, the park has miles of fairly smooth double track for those who want to bike-and-shoot (photos).
MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK: In the summer, swallow-tailed kites are soaring. Red-tailed hawks are present year-round, especially along the Powerline Road canal.
At dusk, keep an eye out for barred owls in the oak hammocks along the main park road. I’ve also twice spotted Florida’s unique raptor, the crested caracara, of which only about 250 nesting pairs remain in the state. See Myakka’s park birdlist for all of the resident and migratory species, from white pelicans to the short-tailed hawk.
MYAKKA PRAIRIE PRESERVE: Just south of the state park, this 8,249-acre preserve, where the meadowlarks perch in the open prairie palmettos, is for solitude seekers.
RED BUG SLOUGH: Nesting red-shoulder hawks in spring and a variety of wading birds, including roseate spoonbills and wood storks, can be found. The preserve is undergoing a $1 million habitat restoration that will restore wetlands in the 72-acre preserve.
PINECRAFT PARK: The Mesic Hammock Trail meanders through thick oaks and lush vegetation that are home to many woodland warblers and songbirds. Red-shouldered hawks can often be seen along the creek into Roberts Bay. This 22-acre park is just within the city limits.
I hope this list has been helpful. I’ll keep adding to it, and I continue to explore. The Sarasota Audubon also has some great information on birding here in Sarasota County.