The Wild Side
In Sawgrass Lake Park again. Can you tell I like to go here to explore and adventure.
We encountered a gentleman on the boardwalk and he introduced us to Mama Gator. He stated she has about 24 babies. I saw one of the babies.
These are Beauty Berries
I could not figure out what species of bird this was, so I sent a picture of it to the local Audubon Society to help me identify.
Let me introduce you to a Limpkin. Looks like a cross between a crane and a rail. However, this wading bird does not have any close relatives. I got to see not 1 but 2 Limpkins! These birds are usually solitary.
An unusual bird of southern swamps and marshes. These birds like to eat apple snails hence the shape of their long bill to extract the snails from their shells. This bird enters into Florida and Southern Georgia to satisfy its dietary requirement for apple snails.
I encourage you all to do an internet search for the “Limpkin Call”. Its screaming call is like a haunting banshee wail. This bird was too busy searching for food, so it did not make any noise when around it. In my research I found out these birds mainly call at dawn or at night. I cannot imagine traipsing through the swamp at night and hearing this bird scream – gives me goose bumps writing that!
Do you see the snake?
(Photos by RSheridan)
Have You Taken A Walk On the Wild Side? Happy Exploring & Adventuring!
Where the “Wild” Things Are
Driving into the park was quite the experience! That feeling that you have truly left the city life behind in taking a left off the main drag and entered a unique space (aka the swamp). Such a special place to explore and adventure within. You just want to take your time here and look for the special and the unique as well as the wild and the exotic!
Lettuce Lake Regional Park. A 240-acre park just outside the city limits of Tampa. The park opened in 1982.
Location: 6920 East Fletcher Avenue, Tampa, Florida. Admission: $2 per car. Hours: Spring/Summer 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Fall/Winter 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Do not forget to pack!
- Good walking shoes.
- Sunscreen and cool clothing.
- Bug spray.
A Hardwood Swamp Forest
- Visitor Center (an interpretive center with natural history and wildlife exhibits). Education programs available.
- The Audubon Resource Center (ARC) is operated by the Tampa Audubon Society in the visitor center.
- Trails and boardwalks – walking, hiking, biking.
- Picnic areas with picnic tables as well as shelters (some shelters are reservable). Barbecue grills.
- Fitness course.
- Fishing with a dock/pier.
- Canoe/kayak launch with rentals.
- River access.
- Birdlife and wildlife watching.
Pretty much something for everyone that visits!
I loved exploring the fauna and flora as well as the birdlife and wildlife from the boardwalk! The boardwalk is 3,500 feet with an observation tower. Pets are not permitted on the boardwalk.
On the Boardwalk
Water is Key to this Environment/Habitat
More than half of the park’s property lies in the natural floodplain of the Hillsborough River. A natural storage reservoir for floodwater and improves water quality, which acts like a biological filter to remove excess nutrients from the water. Due to the recent rains and flooding some of the boardwalk was under water. The water was pretty clear and could see water plants, bugs, fishes, etc.
Gator(s) – Plural
This sign needs to say, “Beware of Alligators”!
Can you spot the gator?
Taking a Nap
This one was just hovering in the water.
Popping the head up.
Swimming towards the people on the boardwalk.
A Favorite Photo (Photos by RSheridan)
Here’s To Exploring Natural Environments – Enjoy!
In the Swamp
Brooker Creek Preserve is the largest natural area in Pinellas County with approx. 8700 acres! Located in Tarpon Springs. Open Daily from 7:00 a.m. to approx. 1 hour before sunset. FREE Admission.
- Environmental Education Center
- Boardwalks and Hiking Trails; about five miles of trails
- Brooker Creek
- Native Fauna and Flora
- Various Ecosystems
The preserve is a wilderness area and not designated as a park. Established in 1992 for the conservation, protection and restoration of native natural resources. It protects a portion of the Brooker Creek Watershed. Brooker Creek is the only stream that enter Lake Tarpon and a major influence on its water quality.
Ecosystems and Habitats
- Cypress Domes
- Forested Wetlands
- Oak Hammocks
- Pine Flatwoods
I enjoyed exploring the Cypress Domes ecosystem. Bald cypress, black gum and buttonbush. Hold water for long periods of time.
The creek system consists of 13 channels, which hold flowing water during the rainy season (May to October). The channels merge into one that outflows into Lake Tarpon.
The Pine Flatwoods ecosystem consists of tall longleaf, slash pines and saw palmetto. The longleaf pines were exploited as a natural sources of turpentine. The longleaf pines can be restored through frequent fire. Prescribed burning every 3 to 5 years encourages restoration and growth.
Female In Front and Male Behind
One Cool Bat House
Turtles and Tortoises
(Photos By RSheridan)
Happy Exploring In the Great Outdoors!