Friday, January 4, 2019

Welcome to Celery Fields, Sarasota!

Well, hello, everyone! Sparky is back...Yes, everything is well and good starting the New Year 2019. Sparky is on holiday break from teaching/subbing at school, so it's time for an update on Where's Eldo? Eldy is golfing, Sparky is on hiatus from school, so time to revisit the Celery Fields in Sarasota, a gem of a birding spot, if you are into that. (Note: All of today's photos are Sparky's from combined trips to Celery Fields and walking the perimeter, along the ditches, the boardwalks and the "Hill".)
Purple Gallinule
If you are NOT into birding, that's ok, too. How about fitness? You can climb the hill at the Celery Fields many times and get lots of steps and altitude in on your fitness watch that you may have gotten for Christmas. Celery Fields Hill is the highest point in Sarasota County at 75-80 feet and on an average walk/climbing day, Sparky gets in 2-3 miles, about 9500 steps, and 21 flights of stairs. The hill itself is not much to look at. Deep ruts from rainwater rushing down the hill from occasional storms make the climb a little bit of a challenge, but there are also meandering loose gravel trails that traverse the hill horizontally. To get your heart rate up a little, follow the trails that lead up and down on the side of the hill. Or, you can just take your time and walk around and around the hill. The trails on the hill are very narrow and uneven, so the hill itself is NOT wheelchair accessible or scooter friendly.

Across the street from the hill are sidewalks that go around the perimeter of the some of the fields, two boardwalks with covered areas that are wheelchair friendly and you can see plenty of nature even if you don't venture anywhere else but those sidewalks and boardwalks. The best nature to be found is along the canals and ditches which have some semblance of a gravel level trail to them and other parts are flattened berms that you can walk along as well.
Little Green Heron
Celery Fields is a combination of open marshland, deep ponds, shallow pools, and canals. It is the site of 360+ acres of the county's primary storm water collection. It has developed into a major birding attraction for the area and now has an Audubon Nature Center right there at the fields and trails. 
Male Boat Tailed Grackle
One hundred wetlands acreage has been restored. There are 200,000 aquatic plants and trees there, and over 215 species of birds have been recorded. There are two boardwalks where you can observe the daily comings and goings of lots of different types of birds and ducks.

Female hooded merganser
Sparky is not a birder, but she sure enjoys seeing the wide variety of species of birds that are there, and with the help of local Audubon Society birders and naturalists that volunteer their time a couple of hours a day during "season" (when all the snowbirds are in town, a species of exotic bird, haha)...she has learned a LOT about the birds that come to the fields. Like this loggerhead shrike, that impales its prey on thorns or barbed wire. It's also called the "butcherbird" for this reason. It gets its name "loggerhead" because its head is much larger in proportion to its body, but you can't tell that in this particular photo.
Loggerhead Shrike
Celery Fields is rated #22 on Trip Advisor, but Sparky thinks it ought to be further up on the list of things to do and see in Sarasota!
Male hooded merganser
 Sparky has seen LOTS of species of birds, from hawks to spoonbills (her favorite)....
....and anhingas to parakeets! These are Nanday parakeets and there are bunches of them at Celery Fields on any given day. The latest exotic bird destined to become very common in this area....
Tiny birds to big birds....This is either a yellow rump warbler or a pine warbler...

Hope you enjoyed today's photos....Hope you have a "ducky" New Year in 2019!
Blue wing teal duck and friends

                                          Sparky and Eldo