Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
Ospreys in Florida
If you have ever peered through a powerful telescope at a solitary osprey sitting far away on its nest in Scotland or the Lake District, you will know what thrilling birds they are – and how difficult they are to see in the UK.
Welcome to Florida! The state is full of spectacular wildlife, and ospreys are one of the top natural sights, if you know where to look. You don't have to be a keen ornithologist to appreciate these marvellous birds.
One of the best places in Central Florida to see ospreys is Honeymoon Island. This is a state park just north of Clearwater, about a two hour trip from the Orlando area.
To reach Honeymoon Island, take the I-4 west to Tampa. At Tampa, continue on I-275 towards St Petersburg, but at Exit 39 take the Veterans Expressway (route 589) north. This is a toll road, and you will need 25c for the toll. Exit the Expressway at Exit 4, and take route 580 (Hillsborough Avenue) west. Continue on 580, then 584, then 586 (Curlew Road) to Honeymoon Island.
Cross the causeway onto Honeymoon Island to the State Park entrance. Past the entrance, follow the park road to the parking lot at the very end. Take the signs marked “Picnic Area” and “Nature Trail”. Then take a walk round the Osprey Trail. It takes about an hour and a quarter for the full circuit, although most people will want to stand and stare for a bit longer. You will soon see your first osprey nest, a large mass of sticks on the very top of a dead tree, only feet from the trail. The ospreys won't be far away. They often sit on the next dead tree, watching over the nest and keeping an eye out for you. They are unmistakable – about two feet tall, with a mostly white head, dark back and white front. In spring, you may see a female sitting on the nest with its young peeping out of the nest at its wide new world.
Keep walking round the trail. You'll see plenty more ospreys and their nests. A particular thrill is to see an osprey flying back with a fish for supper. They often perch on a tree tucking into the fish.
You'll see plenty of other birds on Honeymoon Island. Owls also nest there, and if you're there in the late afternoon you may be lucky enough to see one.
Ospreys are resident in Florida year round, so no matter when you go to Honeymoon Island you have a good chance of seeing a dozen or more. Sometimes you see them outside the park. We have even seen one sitting on its nest in the main street of nearby Dunedin.
When you've had enough of ospreys, you can take a boat trip to a desert island. At the south end of Honeymoon Island, you will find the Caladesi Island Ferry Dock. Take the ferry, which leaves every hour (call 727 734-5263 for info). On Caladesi Island you will find a wonderful white sandy beach, where you can look for sea shells and gopher tortoises, go for a walk or just relax away from it all.
Or just sit on the beach at Honeymoon Island, looking out for dolphins or watching the sun set.
Author: Martin and Susan Hockey
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