Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Leffis Key Preserve

At the extreme southeast end of Anna Marie Island, Leffis Key juts eastward into Sarasota Bay.  Centered on a reclaimed spoil pile that rises 26 feet above the bay, the Leffis Key Preserve protects and continues to restore natural habitats of this small island and is accessed by a fine network of sandy trails and boardwalks.

The boardwalks wind through coastal mangroves and over tidal creeks, leading out to decks at the edge of the bay.  From these view points, the visitor can observe a wide variety of gulls, terns, pelicans, cormorants, waders and bay ducks.  The most unique feature of the preserve is the spoil pile itself, now covered with upland trees and shrubs; trails lead to the summit, which offers broad views of Leffis Key, Sarasota Bay and adjacent landscapes.  Local birders know that it is one of the better regional sites to observe resident and migrant songbirds.

Among the songbirds observed today were common ground doves, blue-gray gnatcatchers, northern cardinals, northern mockingbirds and palm, yellow-rumped and black and white warblers.  Sightings on and along the bay included red-breasted mergansers, brown and American white pelicans, ospreys, little blue herons and snowy egrets, among other species.  Visitors are advised that dogs are not permitted in the refuge.