P114. Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center
Nearest City: Ruskin
Phone Number: 813-641-8545
Features/Amenities: Restrooms, Good for beginners, Tours, educational signage and/or nature center, Birding by boat, Birding by foot/hiking, Best time of day: Morning, Recommended length of visit: quick stop, Butterfly viewing br>
Habitats: Freshwater Marsh/Wetlands, Pines, River/Stream/Spring/Canal, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest, Mudflats
With frontage on the Little Manatee River, hardwood hammocks, pine flatwoods and sandhills, this environmental education facility has much to offer visitors of all ages. Its trails, bird garden and birding blind are good places to practice your ID skills on common woodland birds (American Robin, Blue Jay, Palm Warbler, Cedar Waxwing and Common Grackle), and to introduce newcomers to birding. Waterbirds like Pied-billed Grebe, Anhinga and wintering Lesser Scaup and Red-breasted Merganser may surprise the patient visitor on the River Ramble. Be on the lookout for wading birds such as Great Egret and Green Heron on the Wetland Walk. The aptly-named Tortoise Trail loops through Longleaf Pine/palmetto scrub (watch for Gopher Tortoise, Oak Toad and Red-bellied Woodpecker) and hardwood hammock (good for songbirds and Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers). Check the skies overhead for Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Black Vulture and Tree Swallow; scan open areas for Loggerhead Shrike. A butterfly garden by the education center has Zebra Heliconian and swallowtails; other wildlife species on the property include Red Fox, Nine-banded Armadillo and Five-lined Skink. Educational programs for youth and adults can be scheduled in advance; check the website for a description of available topics. The Paleo Preserve fossil museum is open on Saturdays from 10 AM to 2 PM. This former RV park is managed by the Ruskin Community Development Foundation in partnership with Hillsborough County.
Directions: From I-75 south of Tampa, take exit 240B for SR 674/E. College Ave. and go west for 0.8 mi. towards Ruskin. Turn left (south) on 24th St. SE; the site entrance is 3.1 mi. ahead. Turn left after 0.1 mi. for the visitor center; the canoe launch is at the end of 24th St.
Trails open all year, 8 AM to 6 PM.
Visitor center open Thursday to Saturday, 9 AM to 2 PM.
Location: 27.668570° N, -82.402278° W