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White pelicans at McKay Bay

By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000


photo
[Times photo: Scott Keeler 1999]
White pelicans can have a wingspan of 10 feet.
The American white pelican, with a wing span of 10 feet, is one of Florida's most spectacular winter visitors. These magnificent birds spend most of the year in their breeding grounds of the central United States and Canada. Come November, when the air turns cold, they will form huge flocks and migrate south over Gulf Coast waters.

One of the white pelican's favorite pit stops is the shallow mud flats of McKay Bay. Just a five-minute drive from downtown Tampa, on 34th Street south of Adamo Drive, this city park is a perfect place to spend a lunch hour watching these barnstorming birds provide a free air show.

You probably have driven by this spot off the Crosstown Expressway and never noticed the hundreds of huge white birds resting in the warm Florida sun. The park is set in the most unlikely place, the heart of a heavily industrialized area, hardly the ideal setting for a wildlife sanctuary.

But much of this 908-acre section of Tampa Bay has escaped the developer's bulldozer and backhoe. There are plenty of mangroves, salt marshes and mud flats that attract more than 180 species of birds, from roseate spoonbills to great blue herons. On some winter days, as many as 25,000 birds crowd the shallow bay, apparently undisturbed by the cars and trucks rumbling down the highway.

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Outdoors

  • Freediving off Bayport
  • Little Manatee River
  • Egmont Shipping Channel
  • Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve
  • The Tampa Bay Open Water Challenge
  • Snook
  • The Gunsmoke
  • Hiking in Withlacoochee State Forest
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  • The Redington Long Pier
  • The St. Petersburg Yacht Club
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  • Mastry's Bait & Tackle
  • T.A. Mahoney's Marine Supply
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  • Hillsborough River State Park
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  • Rodbenders
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  • St. Anthony's Triathlon
  • Trail riding at Wilderness Park
  • MacRae's Bait Shop
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  • O'Neill's Marina
  • Suncoast Surf Shop
  • The spring kingfish run
  • Florida Birding Festival
  • Sunset at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill
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  • 'The Kingfish King,'' Gene Turner
  • Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure
  • Tampa Bay Estuary Program
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  • Eckerd College's Search and Recovery Team
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  • The Florida Marine Research Institute
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  • U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater
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  • Boyd Hill Nature Park
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  • Swim with the manatees in Crystal River
  • Brooker Creek Preserve
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  • The Madeira Beach Artificial Reef
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  • Campground at Fort De Soto Park
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  • Anclote Key
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  • Treasure Island Charities
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  • The wreck of the Sheridan
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  • Wakeboarding on Lake Tarpon
  • The Swamp Ape
  • Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish
  • Biking and blading along Bayshore Boulevard
  • Stone crabbing beneath the Sunshine Skyway Bridge
  • White pelicans at McKay Bay
  • Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission's Urban Pond Program
  • Surfing at Upham Beach
  • Spanish mackerel fishing off the Fort DeSoto Twin Piers
  • Wyoming Antelope Club
  • The Center for Marine Conservation Beach Cleanup
  • Sand Key Park
  • The fall kingfish run
  • Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center at Apollo Beach
  • Sheepshead fishing off The Pier
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  • Davis Island Yacht Club Thursday Night Series
  • Trolling for grouper
  • The Suncoast Sierra Club
  • American Power Boat Association World Championships in St. Petersburg
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  • Blue Crabs
  • Riding a beach cruiser
  • The Coquina Key Skate Park
  • Sea kayaking around Honeymoon Island
  • Safe Boating Classes
  • The Strange Man Biathlon
  • Shelling
  • Walking along the beach
  • The Florida Aquarium

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