Typical view [?]
NOTE: Random things here. Good spot.
NOTE: Tortoises - it is an island so limited
NOTE: It can get bad but parly because you want to stay longer
NOTE: B to F - Depends if water has been standing
NOTE: I doubt you'd see any here
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
It's an island with great beaches and a very nice forest trail on the north end that has a lot of birds. Mostly pine forest but so mixed that it's fairly shaded. We're talking about the forested trail unless stated otherwise.
We've seen all kinds of things here - though we've been at least half a dozen times as well. Great horned owl, kingfisher, several warblers - some new to us, forest birds, wading birds (our first reddish egret on north mini-beach), lots of woodpeckers. Also there's an eagle nest and a ridiculous number of osprey. On the beaches there are typical shorebirds, cormorants, pelicans, etc.
We've seen gopher tortoise and dolphins visible from here. Although you could imagine anything in the forest here it is an island that is not near any other wildlife areas... so fairly limited.
State park so everything though mostly at the beach areas.
The beaches you just park and walk to them. There's a small trail by the education center plus a good view of water from the 2nd story education center - seen some warblers and ocean birds there. The best part is the forest trail on the north end. Easy to park there and just walk.
Lovely park - love the way you run it =)
The north end trail is 2 or 3 miles so give it an hour or two. The beaches - however long you want to look around for shore birds. The bit by the education center - at most half an hour. You can spend half a day easily - assuming you don't stop and just hang out at the beaches which are very nice ones.
First a warning: If you go to the end and think you'll walk along beach on the way back - you won't.
First a bit of background as to what it is. It's a very popular park though mostly people go do the beaches so it won't seem crowded. It used to be one island with Caladessi Island but in 1921 a hurricane split it in two. To get to Caladessi you take a ferry from the 1st parking lot here - it's very easy to do and the staff are very cool people. Also a dolphin often jumps out of the water showing off here.
To get here you drive through the city/town of Dunedin which has some charm and the Dunedin causeway. It's a very packed (on the weekend) causeway where people kayak, jetski etc - it's fairly remarkable just for that. Nice people unlike some causeways.
Once on the island you pass a couple beaches on the left - multiple parking areas. Some have stores on them etc. On the right is the 2 story (for flooding control) education center. It's nice - mostly a gift shop. The view from the back deck is nice - you'll mostly see pelicans and osprey. To the north (so left if facing building from parking lot) is a short trail that's worth doing IMHO. We've seen some warblers here.
The main attraction is the trail on the north end. It has tall pines and a mix of other stuff -shrubs, little trees, etc. I don't really think of it as exposed but it can get very hot eventually especially the last 1/3 of it. The right side of the loop (so east) is generally more interesting but that is a tossup. The only beach access I'm aware of from the trail is at the tip and there isn't much of it. BUT - we've seen some unusual wading birds here - there are only so many wading birds but the reddish egret for example.
Along the trail look up at the trees because random things pop up like a horned owl in the middle of the day and innumerable woodpeckers and osprey with interesting behavior. There are a couple shrubby trees in here where we've run into some oddball warblers.
Once you get to the eagle nest I'm guessing half way - it gets less interesting but not boring.
Our first time out to the end was in summer and almost gave up a disappointed heat stroke. We thought it would follow the beach back in but you're completely closed off from it but very near it. And it was just kind of dull. So just be aware.
Pretty great place =)
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