Our field trip destination for January is the Celery Fields, a Sarasota County park. Once an actual celery farm, Celery Fields contains 360 acres of land that have been restored as a wetland. To facilitate wildlife viewing, there are extensive trails and two boardwalks each leading to a gazebo. One path leads to a mound with impressive views of the surrounding area at the top. Not only does the park serve a variety of passive recreational activities, it is the county’s prime stormwater collection zone. There is a Nature Center, built and operated by Sarasota Audubon, with picnic tables outside.
The site attracts an extensive variety of birds, especially waders and waterfowl. Almost every year a rarity shows up. Birding is especially productive early in the morning and late in the afternoon when birds are moving to and from their night roosts. We will drive to several areas, including both gazebos and nearby Ackerman Lake if there are wintering ducks there. We will also walk on some of the trails.
If you come, besides your binoculars, bring a sunhat and sunscreen as the area is quite open. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring water and a snack, and lunch if you want to join us. The birding will end in the late morning, and we will picnic at the visitor center area.
All are welcome. If you would like to carpool, meet at 7 AM at our “north” meeting place, the parking lot of the Walmart on Kings Highway just north of exit 170 of I-75, in a section close to Culver’s. We should arrive at the park by 8 AM.. If you prefer to meet us there, contact Eleanor Marr, 941-624-4182 for meeting place.