Saturday, December 21, 2013

Largo Central Nature Preserve, Largo's Best Kept Secret

Have time for a a quick walk between games on a Sunday afternoon around a storm retention pond?  The same place where they treat your storm water with alum? Sounds yucky, I know, but this nature hideaway is a photographer and nature lover's dream. And there is almost nobody at the park when we have been there.

To get there: off East Bay Drive, turn south onto a small drive on Highland.  Their is a more visible park sign at the entrance. Continue driving the small road until you find a parking lot with a picnic shelter and some covered public information kiosks. Along the way you might find bicyclists on an adjacent path. There are also kayakers and fishermen.





Every time I have been at Largo Central, I have seen a limpkin, a yellow crowned night heron, an ibis, an egret, a cormorant, and that is just around the retention pond. What is the attraction? One side of the boardwalk has the central body of water where birds can find aquatic life for food,  The other side has trees and shrubs that are perfect nesting and resting places. Usually the night heron is harder to spot as he is in the bushes.
 
Double-Crested Cormorant on the boardwalk


Yellow Crested Night Heron almost hidden

Ask any golfer at East Bay Golf Course if they have ever seen the huge alligator, and the great blue herons, roseate spooonbills, mallards, limpkins,and great white egrets along the canal that borders East Bay GC to the east and Largo Central to the west? Spotting occasional wildlife makes the golfing experience memorable!


Limpkin

But if you're not a golfer, turn left when exiting the pond area and follow the canal beside the golf course. Continue along the south side of the park. Both areas are home to the alligators, which I have not seen, and the roseate spoonbills, and great blue herons.


Great Blue Heron in the bushes

Pair of Mallards

Little Blue Heron hunting for food along the shore
 There is an observation deck at the SE corner of the park, where you can watch trees full of woodpeckers of different varieties or the great white egret on the canal beside some private homes. The egret should have a nice breeding plumage in the winter.


Great White Egret in breeding plumage

There are also birds around Long Bayou which is on the western edge of the park. Near there we saw some fishermen looking to catch some bass.

The forested interior of the park has a Pileated Woodpecker and a wild peacock roaming the area. You will not miss the hour or more that you spend at this park and your life will be so enriched.  

resident peacock