Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa, FL

By Alexa, age 10

DSCN1023I think that Lettuce Lake is an awesome place. There is so much wildlife there. There are alligators, insects, owls, snails, cardinals, flowers, trees, and more. There is red-orange water, instead of regular clear water. I am guessing that the coloring  is because of minerals and the plant and animal life. Many animals could find food and shelter there.

When you get there, you park your car (or whatever you have) and go to the visitor center nearby. In the visitors  center, there is information about the animals and plants there. Then, you go out the back of the visitor center, and you find a brown, wooden boardwalk. If you go up the boardwalk, you should come to a point where you can go two different ways; the left, which  goes to the watch tower, or to the right, which is just a boardwalk. I would recommend  bringing a small fan if you have one. The boardwalk can get pretty hot and humid.

The boardwalk leads into trees and a big lake that you can walk through. From the boardwalk, you can see many animals and plants. Most of the plants are green or brown, and the animals can be all sorts of colors.

There was a sign at the end of the boardwalk  on the right that said there would be owls, and unfortunately, we didn’t find any. Lucky for us, we found an owl on the boardwalk to the watch tower. It was really cool. The owl was a Barred Owl. It had brown and white bars. The colors looked almost like snow and milk chocolate. It had an orange-yellow beak. For some reason, it was awake, but it should be asleep because it’s nocturnal. It was looking at us with dark black eyes that looked like big beads. A squirrel hopped onto the branch that the owl was on, and the owl stared at it. The squirrel started making a repeating, high-pitched, screeching noise at the owl. I think it was a defensive noise. After that, the squirrel scurried away, and we left.

When we were on the watch tower, we saw lots of birds and alligators. The watch tower was made of wood and metal. It had three floors. The top one was in the sun and it was very hot, but there was a great view. There was also  a black bird that kept silently going underwater. It had a long neck and long  beak. I saw it pick up a small fish and eat it. When it was completely underwater it looked like a large fish.

The alligators were very dark and almost black. They looked very bumpy. You could only see their heads and the tops of their bodies if they were underwater. The alligators looked like some logs in the water, except they had eyes where as the logs were just… logs. There were some baby ones on logs too. They were probably a third of the size of the adults though. I’m guessing the adults were at least 6 feet long. The alligators would make grunting noises every now and then.

On our way back, we saw a bird trying to eat a snail. The bird was almost the color of milk with coffee,  and it had long legs and a long beak. It kept biting the snail, and stabbing it viciously with its beak. It was actually an apple snail. It was not red, but golden brown. It looked like a regular snail if you’ve ever seen one, only bigger. It was about the size of the bird’s head.

Another bird we saw was black, and its wings were stretched out. It had dark yellow webbed feet and a long beak that was almost the color of the owl’s, only a little bit more yellow. It had a silvery back and a long neck. There was a small streak of yellow and its eyes were pretty small .

There were also pink blobs. They looked like tiny pink colored styrofoam balls on the bottoms of trees. Later we figured out that they were… snail eggs! They were individual eggs all stuck together.

If you like nature, then you will probably like Lettuce Lake, but there is no lettuce, so don’t expect any (I actually thought you went through lettuce fields.).  It is great and you can learn so much!

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