Lake Seminole Park

Lake Seminole Park

This is one of the more popular parks in Pinellas County. During the weekends there are lots of visitors utilizing the many pavilions for birthday bashes and picnics, and the boat ramp is used by fisherman and jet skiers alike. However, these practices have little bearing on the birding. The park is littered with live oaks tress, which in turn is just what the doctor ordered for migrant passerines in spring and fall. The shoreline is shallow, keeping boaters away, and the vegetation is great for species such as Common and Purple Gallinule, Least Bittern, wading species and a few puddle ducks and American Coots in winter. Limpkin are always present. A great way to start your morning is to park in the northern-most parking lot by the ballfield. Walk north towards the unpaved lake side trail and follow it to its end. Walk back via the paved trail or take one of the offshoot trails and they’ll all end at the parking lot.

FALL: Warblers can sometimes be abundant, depending on the weather, of course. No place is particularly better than another. Any grouping of oaks may hold a basketful. In particular look for Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian and Cerulean warblers in September. After entering the park take the first right and you’ll swing around to a parking lot littered with oaks here, too. Any of the expected migrants could turn up at any time. Get out and look. Check the shoreline while walking the berm trail for shorebirds such as yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper and Wilson’s Snipe. Look out over the lake for terns and swallows. Black Terns are expected in September and Barn, Northern Rough-winged and the occasional Cliff might be encountered anytime in fall.

WINTER: Walking the berm trail may produce Wilson’s Snipe or puddle duck species such as Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal. Listen and watch for Sora, Swamp Sparrow (common), Marsh Wren, American Bittern and Common Yellowthroat. In the trees overhead you should find without difficulty Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers and the occasional Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler and, perhaps, a Blue-headed Vireo. Look out over the lake for terns. Expected are Royal and the not-so-common Caspian. A Bald Eagle may be found by scanning the tree tops across the lake. If you’re at the park during December keep an ear tuned for the calls of Great Horned Owl.

SPRING: Like the fall season, migrants pass through this park with regularity. Expected are Prothonotary and Hooded Warblers as early as late March. Painted and Indigo Buntings have been spotted in April and scan the lake for migrant swallows. When April turns to May expect Blackpoll Warblers and the occasional Black-throated Green and Magnolia Warblers within the oaks. Along the lake shore birders should expect to hear calling Least Bitterns as well as Limpkin and in some years Purple Gallinules have been recorded.

SUMMER: Again, the lake shore is the most productive. Watch for Common and Purple Gallinules, Least Bittern, Limpkin and plenty of Boat-tailed Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds. The woodland areas host Great Crested Flycatcher, Northern Parula, Tufted Titmouse and the four breeding woodpeckers found in Pinellas; Pileated, Downy, Red-bellied and Northern Flicker. Keep an eye to the sky during March and April for Swallow-tailed Kite.

INSIDE TIPS: If you’re there during migration make sure to check the oaks around Shelters 10 & 11, which can be found after turning right at the first available right once you’ve entered the park. Local birders always walk the lake berm trail, which starts at the north end of the northern-most parking lot. You just never know what might turn up there.