When I first moved to Central Florida, the first places I visited for nature and bird photography were in Brevard and Orange Counties. I didn’t know of any good places to visit in Seminole County where I live. Every new place I found was in another county. But last year I began discovering my home. It turns out that, while Seminole Co may not have quite the same variety of birds that its surrounding counties my have, if you know where to go, you can actually do pretty well here. And there are some places in the county that are quite beautiful for nature photography and landscapes. So I thought it would be good to collect my favorite birding and photography locations within Seminole County and share them.
Econ River Area
My favorite places in eastern Seminole Count are located near the Econ River. I began discovering places around here in June of last year. It was so fun to begin finding pine forests, and even some scrub areas to visit with about 20 minutes from my home.
The Geneva Wilderness Area [map] is one of my all-time favorite places in Seminole County. It’s pines, grasses, scrub habitat, and ponds make it an attractive place to visit, and a great place to find Eastern Bluebirds, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Carolina Chickadees, a few shorebirds, and a host of other birds and wildlife. In fact, I found my first Seminole County Bobcat here.
Brown-headed Nuthatch at Geneva WA
Little Big Econ SF
Little Big Econ SF
The Little Big Econ State Forest [map] is just down the street from Geneva WA. I’ve known this place was here for a while, but I had no idea how beautiful the forest was. I expected it to be just a walk through the trees, but the paths take you along the Econ River, and there are some very picturesque scenes to photograph. I also found Blue-headed Vireos, Yellow-throated Warblers, Palm Warblers, and a Hermit Thrush. So far I’ve only been to the Barr St entrance.
Palm Warbler at Little Big Econ SF
Econ River WA
Econ River WA
The Econ River Wilderness Area [map] is a little park that’s located just north of UCF. If you blink you’ll drive right by it without noticing, but from the parking lot, you can make a three mile walk to and back from the Econ River, and it’s very beautiful there when the water level is high. There’s also a little pond there. This place has similar species of birds to Geneva WA, and while it lacks grasses it adds a beautiful view of the Econ River.
Eastern Towhee at Econ River WA
Lake Jesup Area
Lake Jesup is locally famous for being the place where captured alligators were set free, so there’s still a high concentration of them on the lake. There are several places surrounding the lake that are some of my favorite birding destinations in the county.
Marl Bed Flats
Marl Bed Flats
The Lake Jesup Conservation Area takes has three tracts (Marl Bed Flats, North, and East). I always go to the Marl Bed Flats Tract (Oak Way) [map], though that should probably change soon. Marl Bed Flats is a great place to visit for sparrows, wading birds, raptors, and even shorebirds.
Bald Eagles at Marl Bed Flats
Lake Jesup Park
Lake Jesup Park
Nearby Marl Bed Flats is Lake Jesup Park (Sanford Ave) [map]. The first thing you’ll notice is the boat ramp, and there may be many things to see there. But to your left as you enter are some Live Oak trees, and there’s a trail head there that will lead you back into some interesting habitats. You may just find American Bitterns, King Rails, lots of wrens, and many other fun things. However, it’s very wet back in there, and there are also many Pygmy Rattlesnakes.
Central Winds Park [map] is located near a high school; there are many ball fields there and a playground. You wouldn’t think so to look at it, but during migration, this has become my favorite place to look for warblers in Seminole County.
Bonaparte’s Gull at Overlook Park
Overlook Park [map] is a tiny little park that overlooks lake Jesup just west of the rte 417 bridge. I go hear sometimes to look for ducks, terns, pelicans, etc that may be sitting on the lake in the morning. This is almost never my final destination, but I drop by here and spend 15 minutes looking around if I’m driving by and have the time. I had some of my favorite pictures of Bonaparte’s Gulls here.
Spring Hammock Preserve
Osprey at Spring Hammock Preserve
I’ve only been to Spring Hammock Preserve [map] a couple times. It’s the most interesting during migration. There’s a trail there that will take you to the western shore of Lake Jesup. At the end, you’ll see many Cypress Trees, and there’s a nice board walk. I’ve found Purple Gallinules by the shore there.
In western Seminole County, there are a couple lake parks that I enjoy visiting. Lake Lotus Park is on the southern edge of the county and Sylvan Lake Park is in the northern portion.
Lake Lotus Park [map] is a beautiful park in Altamonte Springs. It’s a great place to visit, especially during migration. There’s a boardwalk trail with a fishing area, and along the trail you’re likely to find many wading birds including Limpkin. You may also find Bald Eagles, Swallow-tailed Kites and Opsreys on the lake.
Sylvan Lake Park
American Robin at Sylvan Lake Park
Sylvan Lake Park [map] is another beautiful park. I haven’t had as much luck here as in other place, but I also haven’t been here as often as other places either. But Sylvan Lake Park is the one place in Seminole County where Red-breasted Nuthatches have been seen.
Scott Simmons, based in Florida, is a lover of nature, landscape, and wildlife photography. Scott became interested in photography in 2001 when he was given his first SLR camera. When he acquired a telephoto lens, he became progressively more interested in birds and other wildlife. Scott enjoys learning about bird habitats and behavior, striving always to take images that are both beautiful and interpretive. Scott believes photography is a great vehicle to help others to appreciate the wonder for the stuff of earth.
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