Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg

(Click on the photos for larger images.)

It was an hour before sunset when we got to Weedon Island Preserve. It is supposed to be a great place for bird watching. I thought we might be able to see birds coming in to roost for the evening. Some of the features in the preserve are boardwalks through mangrove marshes, canoe trails, hiking trails, and a large observation tower. We parked by the Center, and wandered around looking for a map of the trails. We found a map and a visitor guide. There were several trail heads, but it was a guess as to where any of them led. After studying the map we saw that the walking trails were all less than a mile long, and we would probably be able to get back to the car by sunset no matter which direction we roamed. So, we set out to find the observation tower to look the place over.

We walked along what seemed like endless boardwalks. The place was very quiet and I started to get the creeps. It's almost Halloween and the boardwalks seemed like a good setting for an episode of "The Twilight Zone." I didn't want to get lost in the dark along neverending boardwalks. I felt relieved to see other people and started asking passers by where the tower was. No one seemed to know and the usual response was "I think it's somewhere over there." We continued on and found some observation platforms off the main path.

Here's a photo of what we saw at one of the observation platforms. There was a large open area of water. White herons were wading through shallow water. A flock of big white birds flew into the mangrove marsh. We watched fish in the water and enjoyed the quiet setting.

Back on the boardwalk we saw creepy little things scurrying around. I brust out, "Eeeioo, what are those things?" They were crabs. It was hard to get a photo, because they were quick about getting away from people with cameras. We stopped, listened, and moved very slowly to get this photo. We continued to walk quietly and listen. That's when we started to see other wildlife in the tangled mangrove roots. There were birds, a racoon, a rabbit, and gaudy spiders that looked like they were decked out for Halloween.

This spider looks like it's wearing a tiki mask. Alfonze put his camera in macro mode and got so close to the spider that I was afraid it would jump out and bite him. The spider never moved at all.

A picnic area at the end of the Bay Boardwalk trail.

Open flatwoods area. I was surprised to learn that cabbage palms are more closely related to grass than trees. This open area is full of cabbage palm fronds growing low on the ground.

We never did find the observation tower, because the boardwalk to the tower is closed for repairs. Once it ceased to be the object of our search we were able to discover the beauty of the landscape and experience seeing wildlife up close.

More photos of our visit to Weeden Island Preserve.


Directions from Tampa
Drive across the Gandy Bridge and turn left at San Martin Blvd. Keep a close eye out for it as soon as you're on the St. Petersburg side of the bridge. We missed it and had to turn around.

Preserve Hours: Daily, 7am - Sunset
Center Hours: Wednesday - Sunday 10am-4pm (closed Monday, Tuesday, and holidays)

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