Birding Guana Lake and River
Birding Guana Lake and River

Birding Guana Lake and River

For exceptional birding opportunities, visit the Guana River Wildlife Management Area (WMA).  The Purple, Red and Blue Trails within the GTM Reserve will loop onto the trail that leads to one of the highlights, Capo Creek and Guana Lake Towers.

Beginning on the GTM Reserve’s trail system, meander through a dense oak forest that offers occasional views of the Tolomato River. Once you reach the Guana River WMA the ecosystem is vastly different with tall pines and it is the diversity of natural communities that make this place an excellent place for birders.

Capo Creek Tower is a highlight offering stunning views of the salt marsh along Capo Creek – a tidal creek feeding into the Tolomato River.

Guana Lake Tower’s views will not disappoint either offering birders a bird’s-eye view of the lake and all the birds that make it home.

These areas attract White Pelicans (January and February), Ospreys and Bald Eagles often fish at the lake. When water levels are low, Black-necked Stilts, Dowitchers and other shore birds can also be seen at the lake’s north end.

During April and October, this area is the best place in northeast Florida to see migrating Peregrine Falcons. Winter months bring more than 3,000 migratory ducks, American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes to Guana Lake.

In May through September, you’re likely to see Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, and White and Glossy Ibis at Big Savannah.

Photo: Byron Capo

Experience Guana Lake and Guana River

The birding opportunities are abundant with winding trails that take you from the marsh through oak scrub to pine flatwoods.

At a Glance Information for Birding the Guana Wildlife Management Area

Fees/Permits: $3 day use fee, cash only paid at Guana Dam

Points of Interest: South Point (south end of peninsula); Shell Point; Big Savannah Pond; Capo Tower; Lake Tower; Booths Pond
Trail Blaze Colors: Trails are color coded in the GTM Reserve; trails aren't blazed in Guana River WMA but they are easy to follow

Difficulty:
Easy to moderate

Bug Factor: Moderate, bring bug spray

Restrooms: at Guana Dam, Trailhead and Environmental Education Center

Open: Daily from 8 AM to sunset

Spot the Eagle's Nest!

A massive eagle nest in the treetops can be seen from the back deck of the GTM Environmental Education Center. To make viewing easier, when the nest is active, a spotting scope is set up inside the Education Center.

Photo: Ralphi Oakley

Sustainable Birding in Ponte Vedra

Limit your impact to the surrounding areas by being a “Sustainable Ponte Vedra Beach Guest” – keep these recommendations in mind on your next birding adventure.

Tips on How to be a Sustainable Ponte Vedra Beach Guest

  • Stay on track. Staying on designated trails to trampling on sensitive plants and animals.
  • Keep it natural. By packing out what you bring in you’ll help keep the “natural” in our “natural areas.”
  • Don’t feed wildlife. Feeding birds and other wildlife conditions them to handouts and eventually they will lose their fear of people and/or vehicles.
  • Stay chemical free. Stick to sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, two of the most common ingredients found in chemical formulas.
  • Education is key. Stop by the GTM Environmental Education Center to better understand these unique ecosystems.

Things to Do Nearby:

  • Hungry? Grab lunch on the river at Aunt Kate's Restaurant. Enjoy Minorcan clam chowder, fried shrimp and all your favorite comfort foods. Go for dinner and watch the sunset over the intracoastal.
  • Go birding on the water with Florida Water Tours.
  • Check out a show on Airstream Row.
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