Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Paynes Prairie State Preserve. Tel: (352) 466-3397
In 1774, the naturalist William Bartram called this area just south of Gainesville the ‘great Alachua Savannah.’ Today the preserve protects 8500 hectares (21,000 acres) of marsh and wet prairie. The area is best known as one of the major wintering grounds for migratory Sandhill cranes - between late October and March thousands of Sandhill cranes gather here. Early morning and late afternoons are the best times to see and hear the birds calling. In 2006 the wintering Sandhills were sometimes joined by 6 or 7 Whooping cranes.
On the north of the Prairie leading off from the Parking area at the Bouleware Springs trailhead (see PDF of the
Map) is the La Chua Trail. This is a great birding spot, especially in winter when cranes, eagles, hawks and wading birds are common. On warm days in February and March, dozens of alligators bask on the canal banks.
More information on their web site
Paynes Prairie web site
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