Copyright 2000-2014 by Thomas Zinneman.  All rights reserved.

Sarasota County

Casperson Beach

From Port Charlotte, take US 41 north.  In the Venice area, where US 41 splits into US41 (bypass) and US41 (business), turn left onto the business portion.  After crossing the Intercoastal Waterway, turn left onto Avenida del Circa, then right onto Airport Avenue, then left onto Harbor Drive.  Look for the Service Club Park signs and turn right into the Park.  Restroom facilities are available in the Park.  Take the path to the beach.  Be sure to look for Scrub Jays along the path.  You can also follow Harbor Drive south, which parallels the beach.

Celery Fields

The Celery Fields were previously used for agriculture, with celery being the primary crop.  In 1995, Sarasota County purchased a 300-acre tract, which it now uses as a flood retention area.  The area consists of open marshlands, deep ponds, shallow pools, and canals.  The Sarasota Audubon Society conducted a bird survey from January 2001 to October 2003, tabulating 178 species.

From I-75, take Exit 210 to Fruitville Road.  Turn right (east) on Fruitville Road and then right onto Coburn Road. Follow Coburn as it curves; the Celery Field will be on your left and Ackerman Park will be on your right.  You will find birds along the Ackerman Park lake and in the canal on the opposite side of the road.  Continue south on Coburn and turn left (east) on Palmer Road.  There are small ponds on each side of this road, which may have some water birds in them.  Stop at the gazebo on the left side.  Below the gazebo is a marshy area that may have a number of birds when water is present.  There is also a berm to the right of this marshy area separating the retention ponds along which you may walk. Notable birds include sandhill cranes, soras, king rails, black-bellied whistling ducks, limpkins, and bobolinks.

There are picnic tables in the gazebo and at Ackerman Park for eating lunch.  There are restrooms at the Fruitville library on Coburn Road just off of Fruitville Road.

Laurel Landfill

The Laurel Landfill is a Sarasota County solid waste disposal landfill facility.  The landfill is open Monday through Saturday, 8-5 and closed on Sundays.  From I-75, take Exit 195 and go east 1/4-mile.  Turn left onto Knights Trail Road.  Continue on Knights Trail Road (2.1 miles) to the entrance gate of the landfill.  Then proceed another 0.4 mile to the weigh stations and facility buildings.  Turn right and park in front of the Adminstration Building. Visitors are required to register before entering the landfill area.  Be sure to ask for a map showing the layout and where birders are permitted to drive. (Note - The 2.5-mile entrance road has some good birding areas along the right side of the road.  If stopping , pull completely off the roadway to avoid high speed trucks.)

After registering, you may drive around the perimeter road of the Complex.   Look in the center fields for Meadowlarks and Killdeer. There are seven small ponds situated on the perimeter road of the Complex.  You may see various species of water birds on the ponds, including a variety of Ducks, Egrets, Gulls, Herons, Ibises, Sandpipers, and Wood Storks.  Other birds you may see as you drive around the perimeter road include:  Bald Eagles (adult and immature), Hawks, Grackles, Sparrows, and Woodpeckers.  Taking photos may be a challenge, because most of the area on the right side of the road is fenced off with six-foot high chain link fence.

Oscar Scherer State Park

This Park is located south of Sarasota and north of Venice, in historic Osprey. This Park is about 1400 acres in size and has a small creek, called South Creek running through it.  There are also two small lakes, Lake Osprey and Big Lake.  It contains many acres of pine flatwoods and scrubby flatwoods that are populated with the threatened Florida Scrub Jay.  There are 15 miles of well-maintained hiking trails.  About 100 tent and RV campsites with complete hookups for electric and water are available.  There is a $4 entrance fee.  The Park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown.  

From Punta Gorda, take I-75 north to Exit 195, Laurel Road.  Head west on Laurel Road to US 41.  Take a right on US 41.  The Park entrance will be on the right a few miles north on US 41. 

Venice Rookery

From I-75, take exit #35, Jacaranda Blvd.  Head west to US 41. Turn right (north) on 41.  Go a few hundred feet and turn left on Annex Road, which is between the Florida Highway Patrol Building and the County Administration Building.  Go to the end of the road and park on the left.  To the right is a small lake with an island in the center.  Various water birds, such as Anhingas, Great Egrets, and Great Blue Herons nest on the island.  Peak nesting time is January - March.