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Fort Desoto

Birding / Hiking / Adventuring Roadtrip Info

Andrew Thoreson
Oct 2018
 Typical view [?]
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Typical View (27)

Snapshots! (21)
GRADES: Click each for info, * = Note
Revisit? B
Birding B
Wildlife D
Summer Heat D
Terrain B
Fun Hike B
Maintained A
Mosquitos B
Biting Files A
Ticks A
 LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
Map On Big Map: Click map (or on google maps). Address: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Saint Petersburg, FL, Pinellas, USA, 33715

1) What It's Like

Other than being a nice beach it can be a huge disappointment for birding if you don't know where to look and depending on the time of year.

2) Kinds of Birds

Shore and wading birds year round. On specific days when migrating birds fall out of the sky here you can see anything.

3) Wildlife

Nothing much outside of what you'd expect at a beach or being in the city. I saw a manatee once on the mangrove side.

4) Amenities

Great for a beach - many bathrooms, beach showers, nice gift shops. Nice fishing pier.

5) Dear Ranger

I wonder how irritating the birding people are on your day off =/

6) Time Requirements

45 minutes usually. You can get the idea in 20.


This is THE birding spot, statistically, to see in Florida going by ebird. At first we went and saw basically nothing. The folks at the front gate said try the trail at the north end: a couple warblers - basically nothing. Then we tried the trail on the east side of the island - mangroves and nothing. Then we figured two things out. One is that part of what makes Fort Desoto a big deal is that the numbers are inflated by birds landing here to take a break during migration - it sticks out a bit as the first land. But that's only certain times of year. So on some days it's great - most days not so much. Second is that the one spot that seems to draw the most birds is the area around the Ranger's house. To get there you enter the park and you're looking at the comically oversized American flag. Turn right and the first parking lot on your left (it's not immediately there). The fishing pier and ferry to Egmont key is here. On the left - that house is the ranger's house. The tree on the right side front of the fence is a mulberry tree and when the birds are around this is one place they like. The other - you walk around the fence to the right... which turns left following the beach (not on the beach). You'll see a tall tree somewhat alone on the left off the path a ways with a fountain there that some Audubon or something like that made. You'll know you're there when the birds are because there will be dozens of people with comically oversized camera lenses to get shots of birds 30 feet away. Also you might see stuff behind the ranger's house but I start feeling like an asshole before that point.

Another good place is to turn left at the comically oversized American flag all the way to the end and there will be lots of shorebirds and wading birds. That is there year round though you're unlikely to see much of anything rare.

There are also trails here that are alright. I've seen enough island and mangrove trails to last a lifetime but it would be exciting if you weren't from here. Also the beaches are quite good. The fort - going on top is a nice view - otherwise I don't know if this place was actually involved in any wars or anything. It's just concrete bunkers and rusted artillery guns.

The gift shop is nice as far as those things go.

Kayaking on the mangrove side can be okay. There are better places though too.

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