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RFI Spring Hill, FL

Posted: March 11th, 2016, 1:02 pm
by tomharten
Hi Folks,
I will be down in Spring Hill at the end of next week, mainly to visit my mom, but hope to get in a little herping. If folks could possibly recommend some worthwhile spots in that area, I'd appreciate it. Any thoughts as to whether road cruising might be productive this time of year in that area? I'm strictly in it for the thrill of seeing some FL herps and taking some photos.

Tom Harten
Owings, MD

Re: RFI Spring Hill, FL

Posted: March 11th, 2016, 10:42 pm
by mtratcliffe
Hi Tom! I live in Tampa, and I'm originally from the Annapolis area, not far from Owings. I hope the spring herping season has started off well in Southern MD!

I'm currently deployed, so I won't be around during the time of your visit, but there are a number of places worth checking out within an hour/1.5 hr drive of Spring Hill. This is a good time of year to herp the area!

- You can kayak the Weeki Wachee River, which is a spring-fed river not far from Spring Hill. Go during the week to avoid the crowds. You have a good chance of seeing Suwanee Cooters. I've also seen Peninsula Cooters and a Cottonmouth that was swimming upstream. If you are lucky, you might see a manatee as well!
- Haven't been to either of these yet, but the James B. Starkey Wilderness Park and the Conner Preserve, which are about 30 min south of Spring Hill, have decent trail systems from what I hear. I've had friends with great success herping Starkey.
- A little bit further south from there is Brooker Creek Preserve. It's free, and I always find something interesting there. Lots of trails, though some of the ones that go deep into the pinewoods are often flooded if it has rained recently. There's an extensive boardwalk that meanders through a beautiful cypress swamp. Check the nature center windows and the backs/insides of any signs you see for treefrogs. Also, keep an eye out for Gopher Tortoises on the drive in. Be sure not to disturb any animals at this location, however.
- Haven't been here either, but I hear great things about Chinsegut Nature Center in Brooksville. There's a trail that circles a large prairie pond; should be good diversity there.
- There's also Annuteliga Hammock up Hwy 19 from Spring Hill, which has some trails. I've driven through this area several times, but never stopped. It's a sandhill type environment, and I imagine afternoon roadcruising in that general area could be productive if it's not too hot. There's a lot of privately owned land around there, so be mindful of that, but there's also a powerline cut through there that I've always wanted to check out. If you look on Google Maps, it looks like that whole area was slated for development, but they stopped after constructing the roads in a grid fashion. Not sure if all of those roads are open to vehicles or not. Worth checking out, at least.
- Further east is the Green Swamp, which has great roadcruising. Haven't checked out any trails there, though. Find a side road off of Hwy 471 - that main road has a surprising amount of traffic and it's not conducive to leisurely road cruising.

That should be enough to keep you busy. Good luck and let us know what you find!

- Matt

Re: RFI Spring Hill, FL

Posted: March 12th, 2016, 4:25 am
by tomharten
Thanks for the great info! I was debating on whether to bring a kayak or a canoe, but I think that I will based on your suggestion. If I see anything interesting, I post it. I appreciate your help!


Re: RFI Spring Hill, FL

Posted: April 4th, 2016, 12:12 am
by mtratcliffe
So how did your trip go?