In 1940 Al "Jiggs" Metcalf and his wife started a fish camp on 7 acres of land along the Braden River. For 40 years the camp was a local icon and vacation spot, selling bait for fisherman and renting small cabins to families. Many years after the hay-day of the fish camp, Manatee County purchased the property and turned it into a preserve, along with a fresh set of cabins that are for rent again.
The first thing you see when you enter the grounds is an osprey nest, high up in a tall, long needle pine tree. The nest is enormous and a white head can usually be seen peeking over the edge. If you are lucky, one of the pair will pose for a picture on a near by branch.
The boardwalks, grounds and boat launch are all free public facilities. A small cafe that serves excellent fresh prepared food is located between the boat launch and the cabins. This peaceful paradise is located only a few blocks off the traffic nightmare of Rte 70 in Bradenton. A gem.
The new cabins are a real treat. Painted in the same colors loved by Agnes Metcalf, the eight structures vary between bunk beds, full size or queen beds. All are simple dwellings with just one room.
We were lucky enough to spend a night in the queen bed camp.
A beautiful evening spent watching birds, big and small
More boardwalk, looking toward the boat launch
As dusk approached, flock after flock of white ibis, turkey vultures, and herons began to roost in a group of trees on the other side of the river. It looked like snow on the foliage.