M85. John Chesnut Sr. Park
Nearest City: Tarpon Springs/Palm Harbor
Phone Number: 727-582-2100
Website: M85. John Chesnut Sr. Park
Features/Amenities: Some viewing is barrier free, Restrooms, Birding by boat, Birding by foot/hiking, Best time of day: Morning, Recommended length of visit: a few hours br>
Habitats: Freshwater Swamp, Pines, Lake/Pond/Impoundment, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest
Named for a Pinellas County commissioner and park champion, this site on the southeast shore of Lake Tarpon has traditional recreation areas as well as quieter spots perfect for the birder and nature enthusiast. Three short nature trails (2.7 miles total) with shell footpaths wind through pine flatwoods and oak hammocks; boardwalks lead through cypress edge and freshwater swamp to Brooker Creek. Climb the 40-foot observation tower for a great view of the lake. The North Trail Loop connects to a canoe trail (bring your own), and in the southern portion of the park, the Peggy Park Nature Trail (named for an FWC law enforcement officer slain in the line of duty) follows the lake edge and creek. Watch for freshwater turtles, Northern Raccoon, Limpkin, Black-crowned Night-Heron and other wading birds feeding along the shoreline. Check the boardwalks for songbird flocks in migration (nearly 30 species of warblers are possible, including Ovenbird, Golden-winged Warbler and Cerulean Warbler; plus Acadian Flycatcher, Veery and Orchard Oriole) and during winter (Gray Catbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Eastern Phoebe). Flyovers of Short-tailed Hawk (rare) and Sharp-shinned Hawk (winter) are reported; Bald Eagle sightings are fairly regular August through May. Check the lake for ducks and American Coot in winter and for Least Tern in summer. The lake edge can be good for Marsh Wren in winter as well. Rarities turn up at this park rather frequently such as Greater White-fronted Goose, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Western Tanager, so be ready for almost anything!
Directions: From the intersection of US 19 and CR 752/Tampa Rd. in Palm Harbor, drive east on Tampa Rd. for 3.8 mi. to CR 611/McMullen Booth/East Lake Rd. Turn left (north) and drive 2.1 mi. The park is on the left (west) side of the road.
Open all year, 7 AM to dusk.
Location: 28.088478° N, -82.699466° W