O101. McKay Bay Nature Park
Nearest City: Ybor City/Tampa
Phone Number: 813-274-8615
Website: O101. McKay Bay Nature Park
Features/Amenities: Not a primary Trail site, but worth a visit if you are in the area, Tours, educational signage and/or nature center, Birding by foot/hiking, Birding by bicycle, Best time of day: All day, Recommended length of visit: a few hours br>
Habitats: Mangrove Swamp, Lake/Pond/Impoundment, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest, Marine/Bay, Mudflats
There’s more here to this park than first meets the eye. From the parking area, visitors have two options. The first is a short nature trail which leads to a 915-foot boardwalk, where you will journey through the mangroves to the bountiful mudflats of McKay Bay. The second option is to take the paved 1.25-mile multi-use trail which winds southward through the park; this trail circles the southern tip of the peninsula before heading west back to 34th St. Shorebirding can be excellent but difficult at this park; a spotting scope is recommended. Set up your scope and tripod from either the observation deck/education pavilion on the east side of the park, or the viewing station on the west side at the end of 34th St. American Avocet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpiper, Red Knot and Black-necked Stilt are possibilities. Expect common gull and tern species, but occasional visitors like Bonaparte’s Gull, Black Tern and Gull-billed Tern spice things up a bit.
Walk or bike the paved trail to check a series of freshwater ponds complete with ducks (including Greater Scaup, Northern Pintail, Canvasback and Ruddy Duck) in winter months and herons, egrets, ibises, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill and other waterbirds year round. Migration brings Blackpoll Warbler and Rose-breasted Grosbeak to the park's hardwood stands in spring, plus Northern Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Warbler and Swainson’s Thrush in fall. Least Bittern and Brown Thrasher have bred here in summer; watch for Cedar Waxwing and American Robin in winter.
Note: the boardwalk is closed for repairs until 2014 and a portion of the hike and bike trail is temporarily closed due to construction activities.
Directions: From I-4 in Tampa, take exit 1 for SR 585/21st St. in Ybor City and go 0.4 mi. Turn right (south) onto 21st St. and go 0.6 mi. to SR 60/Adamo Dr. Turn left (east) and go 0.8 mi. to N. 34th St. Turn right (south); the park entrance is 0.1 mi. ahead, just after the overpass on the left (east) side of the road.
Open all year, dawn to dusk.
Location: 27.953071° N, -82.422144° W