Saturday, 20 June 2015

Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida

In Florida for a conference next week, we decided to take the chance to visit friends in Tampa before heading to Orlando and they indulged our bird watching (with which they are also enamoured) by taking us to Lettuce Lake Park. This is a wonderful place on the flood plain of the Hillsborough River

Hillsborough River, Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 18mm, ISO 400,  f/5.6, 1/4000

offering great views of birdlife on the water and vegetation. This Little Blue Heron held my attention for over half an hour as it foraged for fish among the plants in the shallow water. Little Blue Herons start life all white, while the adults are a uniform slaty-blue colour. As they moult into adult plumage, you can find all sorts of gradations on mottled white/blue.

Little Blue Heron (immature), Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400,  f/11, 1/1000
Little Blue Heron (immature), Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400,  f/11, 1/800

The park includes a kilometre of boardwalks through cypress swamp

Bald Cypress, Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 31mm, ISO 400 f/5.6, 1/160
Bald Cypress, Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 22mm, ISO 400 f/5.6, 1/100

where, if you look carefully, you can find Alligators

Alligator, Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400,  f/5.6, 1/80

as well as a variety of bird life. This Wood Stork was unperturbed by my close presence but was difficult to photograph as it fed among the trees in the dappled light of the swamp.

Wood Stork, Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400,  f/5.6, 1/100
Wood Stork, Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400,  f/5.6, 1/100

By late in the morning the heat and humidity were stifling so we opted for lunch in the cooler breeze of the gloriously-named I.C. Sharks - one of the many coastal seafood shacks in St. Petersburg - and a plan to get out to some more birding locations tomorrow

2 comments:

  1. I was very interested in this post as I have a friend who lives at Tampa and I often wondered about visiting her since I started blogging as a bird watcher when I see other people's photos of around that area. I would like to know how close is this place to Tampa? It certainly looks fabulous and I love your Heron shots. I am sure this probably is not the best time of year to go as it it would be very hot but do you know what time would be best (for weather and birds). You can contact me at margaretadamson@mail.com I hope you have more photos from the area to show bloggers.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Margaret
      Lettuce Lake Park is about 5 miles north of downtown Tampa just near the University of South Florida. You are correct, summer is not the best time to go birding in Florida - it is hot and humid with frequent storms. Also, there are not as many birds around as there are in winter and spring - in particular, the migratory wading birds have mostly gone by summer. My favourite place for wading birds is Fort De Soto near St Petersburg.
      Cheers, Ian

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