About Lakeside Ranch STA

On an early Saturday morning in April, I went on an amazing birding excursion at Lakeside Ranch Stormwater Treatment Area (STA).  South Florida Water Management District manages the approximately 2,700 acre site which is available for visitors on foot or on a bicycle.  Its main function is to improve water quality flowing into Lake Okeechobee.  Audubon of Martin County conducts educational outreach at the site because of the amazing abundance of birds that flock to it.  The best time of year to visit is usually wintertime when birds are migrating, but I knew my trip there would be worthwhile. Audubon of Martin County regularly conducts birding excursions at the site.  Learn more about their birding programs online.

Birding with John Nelson

I met up with my friend John Nelson who is one of the best birders I have ever met.  I first met John in 2011 when he took one of my Florida Master Naturalist courses.  His love for Florida’s environment grew and he became President of Audubon of Martin County.  He is also creator of the Audubon Moment.  I knew I was in for a special treat with John’s expertise.  I wrote a blog “Florida Master Naturalist 20th Anniversary Graduate Spotlight on John Nelson – Creator of the Audubon Moment” if you want to learn more about John.

Ken Gioeli and John Nelson
UF/IFAS Extension Agent Ken Gioeli with Master Naturalist and Creator of the Audubon Moment, John Nelson, at Lakeside Ranch. Photo by K. Gioeli

Of course, nothing goes completely as planned.  My original intention was to bring our UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County video camera equipment to shoot some video on site.  I forgot it at the office and I did not have time to retrieve it.  Fortunately, John had a spotting scope he let me use.  The photos in the blog below were taken using my iPhone 12 through John’s spotting scope.  The birding was amazing.  John mentioned that we should do this again when migrating birds are over-wintering in the STA.  Sign me up!!

So what birds did we see?

There was an abundance of birds at Lakeside Ranch Stormwater Treatment Area.  White pelicans were plentiful as were great egret, gallinules, red winged black birds, osprey, stilts, grackles, snail kites, snowy egret, and more.  Birders can head out to the site with a good camera and scope and probably see many more than I listed here.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans at Lakeside Ranch. Photo credits: K. Gioeli, UF/IFAS
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron as seen through a spotting scope. Taken with an iPhone 12. Photo Credits: K. Gioeli
Grackle as seen through a spotting scope. Photo taken on an iPhone 12. Photo Credits: K. Gioeli
Sandhill Crane
A sandhill crane tending to the eggs in the nest. Photo credits: K. Gioeli, UF/IFAS Extension
Great Egret
A snowy egret at Lakeside Ranch. Photo credits: K. Gioeli
Gallinule at Lakeside Ranch. Photo credits: K. Gioeli, UF/IFAS
American Bittern
American Bittern at Lakeside Ranch. Photo Credits: K. Gioeli, UF/IFAS
Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill at Lakeside Ranch, Photo Credits: K. Gioeli, UF/IFAS


Audubon of Martin County

South Florida Water Management District Lakeside Ranch Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 

by Ken Gioeli

Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert

Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.


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