We were up early, gathering binoculars, camera, birding scope, insect spray, water, birding guides and some small snacks to ward off any pre-lunch hunger pangs. The Venice Area Birding Association was going to Cockroach Bay in Ruskin, which is a bit of a trek from Rotonda, Englewood and Venice, and we were taking extra care not to leave anything behind.
Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve is one of the most pristine wetland sites in the Tampa Bay area. According to Florida Department of Environmental protection, the submerged lands of the preserve include both hard- and soft-bottom habitats, seagrass meadows, algal beds and oyster reefs. The shoreline of Cockroach is protected by salt marsh and mangroves. There are more than 200 species of fish in Tampa Bay, many of which rely on habitat like that found at the preserve, and thousands of shorebirds use the mangroves and shoreline for nesting.
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