Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Jan. 19, 2005)
Discovery Day and Nature Festival
 
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Photo by Rick Tremmel
Graceful in pink, roseate spoonbills can be observed along the boardwalk at Boca Ciega Millennium Park in Seminole.
Go fly a kite! Jump into a boat! Take a hike! Catch a butterfly! Watch an eagle soar from a tower up high. Post a sign: “Gone Fishing … ”

Is there one place you can go to do all these things and more? What if I told you that not only could you do all these things in one place, but that this wonderful place is in your very own backyard. No, I don’t mean Florida in general. Yes, we have beaches here, and lakes there, waterways over there and open spaces over here. That’s Florida.

But right here in Seminole we are blessed with one of the most spectacular parks in the whole United States – Boca Ciega Millennium Park – at 12410 74th Ave. N. (Old Oakhurst Road) 588-4882.

Boca Ciega Millennium Park features include fishing access to the bay, a canoe launch, 1.5-acre Paw Playground, 35-foot observation tower, .25 mile nature trail, boardwalks, playground, restrooms, picnic shelters and bicycle/pedestrian paths. Five ponds were added to treat stormwater runoff and hydrate the wetland areas before the runoff reaches Boca Ciega Bay.

It is not unusual to see people standing statuesque, binoculars pointed to the treetops capturing some unusual site of winged beauty. Boca Ciega Millennium Park is a designated hotspot on the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s “Great Florida Birding Trail.” You can view shore birds, wading birds, birds of prey, upland birds and water fowl. Each time I visit I am rewarded with a long list of birding sites some labeled “frequent” but some not what one would “expect” to see.

I noted that one of the birding tours lists Boca Ciega Millennium Park as a possible place to observe turkeys. Sure enough, on several early morning walks I have spotted turkeys roaming the park. I’ve also seen foxes, of course, raccoons, and have heard about several other animals that live in the wilds of Boca Ciega Millennium Park.

At the entrance to the 184.6-acre park is the Pinellas County Millennium Time Capsule with more than 100 items secured for future generations to find. The park has been recognized by the Florida Native Plant Society for its use of natives in landscaping. Boca Ciega’s natural communities include pine flatwoods, coastal oak hammock, mangrove swamp, salt marsh, bay head and wetlands. A wide variety of Florida vegetation and wildlife highlights Boca Ciega Millennium Park’s delightful environs.

On March 5, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Boca Ciega Millennium Park will be hosting a “Discovery Day and Nature Festival.” The motto of this day is “Touch, Create, Observe.” There will be children’s games and arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt, cast net demonstrations, snakes, birds, and pond programs and guided bird walks.

The Division of Forestry, Project Wild, Animal Services, 9-1-1, Bike Safety, Morton Plant, Exotic Pest Plant Council, ADA, Friends of Boca Ciega, Osprey Bay Kayaks, North American Butterfly Association, St. Petersburg Audubon Society, Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and more will be putting on displays for young to old. There will be something for everyone to enjoy and find educational. Refreshments, nature based products and native plants will be on sale.

You won’t be disappointed. So go fly a kite! Jump into a boat! Take a hike! Catch a butterfly! Watch an eagle soar from a tower up high. Post a sign: Gone Fishing … Let’s all get out on March 5. Support our neighborhood’s world class Boca Ciega Millennium Park.

Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.

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