We love visiting state parks both at home and while on vacation to experience authentic nature and wildlife. Florida has amazing state parks with programs that are often free to the public. My family enjoys birding so we were excited to visit Anastasia State Park on their guided bird walk.
Anastasia State Park is home to over 195 identified bird species, making it a birder’s dream come true! The state park includes a diverse habitat that is perfect for many types of birds that call the beach, dunes, salt marsh, coastal scrub, and rare maritime hammock home. There are 1,600 acres of unspoiled beaches, tidal marshes, maritime hammocks and ancient sand dunes that make up this remarkable Florida state park.
I would recommend wearing sneakers or even long pants on this trail, we weren’t prepared as there were some taller grasses we walked through and we saw a cottonmouth venomous snake off the trail. Also, bring bug spray. Our guide brought bug spray for us to all use and even binoculars but it’s better to be prepared if you know ahead or if you go alone.
This park is home to imperiled species including least terns, Wilson’s plovers and black skimmers that would be hard to find elsewhere altogether. Other unique birds include Roseate Spoonbills, Ospery (we saw several), Painted Buntings, Warblers, Eagles, and Egrets (pictured below).
This park is also uniquely situated along the Atlantic Flyway so all of the migrating birds in the fall and spring stop at the park to feed and rest. If you are lucky enough to visit St. Augustine during their monthly guided bird walk, I highly recommend signing up. If you aren’t in the area for the walk, you are still sure to enjoy the entire state park for hiking, sunbathing, and birding on your own. You can stop by the ranger station for a Birding Checklist.
This lake was a popular spot for red-bellied woodpeckers. We also saw an otter swimming in the water!
Our volunteer guide, Susan Killeen was fantastic. She knew answers to our questions along with her junior ranger friend, I forget his name but he was a really cool 15-year-old. She said that September is a great month to go birding in St. Augustine. That’s when the returning migrant birds start to pass through on their way home to South America. She’s already seen Belted Kingfishers and expect Butter-Butts, Gray Catbirds, Bald Eagles, and migrating raptors like Peregrine Falcons and Kestels real soon. On our guided walk, we searched by ear and sight, she was amazing knowing all the different bird calls – even some distinguished between male and female.
It was a really fun experience to go on a guided bird walk in a new state with birds different than what we have in Ohio. I love that it was a great way to get into nature and explore parts of Florida that many tourists miss out on. I highly recommend hitting up local parks and their programming while on vacation. Many have their schedule posted online so you can plan a couple activities during your stay. It’s inexpensive and very authentic – no so ‘touristy’ as other things people typically do on vacation.
The bird walk is free but parking is $8 per vehicle to enter the park. You can also rent bikes, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, sailboats, and canoes. The Island Beach Shop and Grill has snacks and souvenirs.
Anastasia State Park
300 Anastasia Park Road
St. Augustine, FL 32080