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Water-Related News

Sarasota's Celery Fields a big draw for birds and birders

By Eric Ernst

In the field, when they are not peering through binoculars or checking off their life lists, avid birders often compare notes to learn what the hot sightings are that day. So it was last year when Jeanne Dubi, perched on a rocky bluff overlooking the Monterey coast in California, struck up a conversation with a pair of strangers.

After the obligatory “What have you seen?" the talk turned to “Where are you from?"

"Sarasota, Fla.," Dubi told them.

Their faces lit up. “Oh,” one of them said. "The Celery Fields."

Not the Ringling Museum. Not Mote Marine Laboratory. Not Siesta Beach, the No. 1 beach in the country.

What these Californians pictured when they thought of Sarasota was a 444-acre expanse of fields, lakes and marshes – which also happens to be an ambitious drainage project - that has turned Sarasota County into a topnotch destination for birders.