Sunday, March 24, 2019

Birding in Sarasota--Rye Preserve

Sparky has been on a mission this week, her spring break. She decided to try and visit several different birding sites, one each day. The sites were chosen from this book--Birding Hot Spots in Sarasota and Manatee Counties--a little red book put out by the Sarasota Audubon Society and it's available at the visitor's center at Celery Fields. Forgot what the price was, though.... It's a nice little book. It has the name of about 22 different spots to find the migratory birds that come to Florida this time of year, the best places to see the birds that stay all year round, and descriptions of what you MIGHT see when you go, depending upon the season. The back of the book has maps for each site, and a checklist/chart that tells all the names of the birds and visiting birds for this area and a designation of abundant, common, uncommon, and rare AND what time of year they might be expected in the area.

Now, Sparky is NOT a birder...she likes taking photos of birds, but she doesn't use binoculars or scopes. She just likes to get out in nature, and if she sees birds-great! If not, that's ok, too... so this is not exactly a birding's just a personal experience of visiting one of the sites in the birding book (which some people might find very helpful) from a walking/hiking perspective with a camera in tow, just in case.

Rye Preserve--145 acre property just northwest of the Lake Manatee Dam. There are 4 distinct ecosystems--sand pine scrub, oak scrub, oak hammocks, and a river community. There is a piece of history here as well, the Rye family cemetery. You can tent camp here as well, and there is a nice children's playground. No RV's permitted.

The address is 905 Rye Wilderness Trail, Parrish, FL.  Keep your eyes peeled for the gopher tortoise and the Florida Scrub Jay. There could be an Indigo snake as well...ewwwwww! No, thank you! At sunrise and sunset, sometimes larger animals are spotted such as deer, a possible bobcat or gray fox. But Sparky didn't see any wildlife today....

All the trails are very short but can be combined for longer distances...Each of the trails are less than one mile. Here is a little map of what's available, but you can download one here, using this link from the Manatee County website. Sparky was not impressed with the campsites or the trail signage. Except for the playground, the campsites were very rustic, the picnic tables looked a little worse for wear and tear, and trail areas were somewhat overgrown.

Sparky  walked one trail, the Red Trail. It was not well marked and was confusing to her, but then again, Sparky gets confused easily on lots of trails! It wasn't easy to see where the other trails were without the map. The main posting at the preserve that showed the map was clouded over and you couldn't read the map. At this point in time, Sparky was out exploring and didn't bring a map ahead of time. 

Here, she didn't know which way the red trail went. 
As you can see, it's out in the open, but later on, the red trail passes thru some nice shade. Sparky was glad for some shade along the river as the sun was quickly heating up this nice cool Florida morning.
There was a kayak launch at the Rye Preserve as well, but you had to go down some stairs and turn to get to the river bank. You might be whacking some bushes with your kayak on your way down, it looked a little tight to get down the stairs....but just a few stairs and you are there....
Overall, Sparky was disappointed with the trails and the atmosphere of the's definitely "old Florida", not in the best kept condition, except for a new playground and possible restrooms but the trails were not easily found. 
main sign at the reserve
On to the next park/preserve birding hot spot!  See ya later!

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