Woodpeckers at Lake Somerset Park


Woodpeckers can be seen in Lake Somerset Park along with a variety of other song birds such as blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, and mocking birds.

These quick little birds are fun to watch and to photograph while visiting Lake Somerset Park.

For more information, visit the Audubon Society’s webpage on woodpeckers.


Osprey Platform at Lake Somerset

osprey nest at Lake Somerset

Osprey Nest at Lake Somerset

A pole with an osprey platform was installed on April 14th, 2014 in Lake Somerset Park adjacent New Jersey Road. Osprey have attempted to build a nest on a nearby relay station. The platform has been installed in hopes that the osprey will select the platform as a suitable nesting site in the future.

It seems that an osprey has taken notice of the platform and maybe making Lake Somerset Park his home.

Osprey are beautiful birds with a distinctive black eyestripe. They are superb fishers and prefer nesting in high locations.

For more information on osprey and their nests, visit: Osprey page at FWC.

Woodlake Pond Landscaping

Woodlake Pond is in Woodlake Park at the intersection of New Jersey Road and Waterford Drive. It is a stormwater pond managed by the Lakes and Stormwater Department of the City of Lakeland.

How was it landscaped?

It was landscaped with a variety of native plants that will help absorb excess nutrients from the water, keeping it a healthy and more natural environment. The plants will need about a year to become fully established. Some plants will be in bloom at different parts of the year. Certain native plants were selected to make the landscaping more beautiful.

What kinds of plants were selected?

What happened?

You may have noticed that the City of Lakeland cleaned out the pond on the corner of New Jersey Road and Waterford Drive a few months ago. Then, grass was allowed to re-establish on the embankment. Finally, it was landscaped with a variety of native plants.

Why did the pond need work?

The environment in the pond had become a mono-culture: only one type of plant had taken over, preventing other plants from becoming established. The pond needed intervention to return to a diversified environment. The offending plant, Spatterdock (cow lily), was removed mechanically.

How can I help keep my neighborhood lakes and ponds landscaped and clean?

For more information, see brochure “Stormwater Systems in Your Neighborhood: Maintaining, Landscaping, and Improving Stormwater Ponds” and the Lakeland water flow map.

Download Brochure or Download Map
Stormwater Systems in Your Neighborhood


This brochure will tell you more about how to  landscape around ponds and lakes in your neighborhood. It suggests water plants that are easier to maintain and native. It also gives tips on preventing water pollution that can affect your neighborhood.

Lake Somerset Meeting Summary

Presentation by Lakes and Stormwater, C. Porterfield

Presentation by Lakes and Stormwater Department, C. Porterfield

Advisory signs have been posted at the Lake Somerset boat ramp and around the rookery. Additionally, educational signage will be installed near the parking area by the city. A safety issue was proposed that the lake has several blind corners on the water around the small islands.
Lake Somerset is an urban public access lake, managed by the city. Currently, there is not currently a supporting ordinance to regulate speed alone. The rookery has not been designated as a specially protected zone, but has many wild birds that nest there.
The city will follow up with the FWC to investigate the safety issue.
*Meeting notes were submitted by a Woodlake Garden Patio Homes Attendee.

Lake Somerset Bird Habitat and Rookery

Rookery Image, City of Lakeland

Lake Somerset is the home of many wild birds. The small islands in Lake Somerset create a suitable wetland habitat for wading birds such as the Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, and other Central Florida Wading Birds. Some of the birds here have an endangered species status or another protected status.

One reason Lake Somerset Rookery is a perfect spot for these birds is they are not disturbed here. Fewer natural predators can reach the islands compared to mainland locations. Also there are fewer humans to disturb nesting birds. Humans are the biggest threat to these birds.

Bird Fast Facts:

  • A “rookery” is a place where a group of birds breed, nest, or raise their young.
  • When birds are “flushed” from their nests, it means the birds are frightened. This can be dangerous for the eggs or babies left behind – a predator could be waiting for just that moment! A distance of at least 300 feet is recommended.
  • Wood Storks were designated an endangered species in 1984. Wood Storks became endangered primarily because of the destruction by humans of the birds’ wetland habitat.
  • The Roseate Spoonbill is named for its beautiful pink plumage.

How You Can Help:

  • Please be courteous to the wildlife and obey all signs and laws. The City of Lakeland reminds us on their website that harassing or disturbing wood storks, or destroying their nests is illegal.
  • If possible, keep a distance of at least 300 feet from nesting birds and avoid making loud noises in their presence. This helps to not disturb the birds.
  • If you live on or near the water, please follow laws concerning fertilizer and waste, and see our page on Lakeshore Residents Info.
  • Tip: Many of the same birds can be observed at Circle B Bar Reserve. The trails at Circle B make wildlife observation easier to access at a safe distance. Circle B hosts an interactive Nature Discovery Center that is great for kids. The photography opportunities abound at Circle B because it has a variety of eco-systems and landscapes.

References and Downloads:

Info on Lake Somerset Rookery from the City of Lakeland

Fish and Wildlife Woodstork Info

Florida Endangered Species List

Polk County Birds

Have Kayak Will Paddle Blog

Time Out Polk Article

Florida Friendly Landscaping / IFAS Info

Ever wondered what native Florida plants you could put in your yard? Or what invasive species to avoid? Or how you can save money with drought friendly plants?

A great place to get info is from the local IFAS extension and other agencies that promote native Florida landscaping. Below is some information and websites to help you.

What is Florida Friendly Landscaping?

“Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ ( FFL ) means using low-maintenance plants and environmentally sustainable practices. Learn how you can have a beautiful landscape that could save you time, energy and money while protecting our future.” More info at: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/

What is IFAS?

The UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service is a partnership between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), and the Polk County Board of County Commissioners.
Through Extension, Polk County citizens find answers to both every day and difficult issues in a diversity of topic areas, from lowering doctor visit frequency through better nutrition and physical activity, to planting a low water-use Florida yard, to protecting commercial fruit operations from pests and diseases. Find a place for your children to stay safe and build their confidence through the 4-H program, or get a license to spray chemicals as a service for your small lawn and landscape business. More info at: http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/

More helpful links:

Polk IFAS Florida Friendly Landscaping

Florida Yards

“Gardening in a Minute”

Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants


IFAS Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Handbook

Florida Friendly Yard Plant Selection Guide

SWFWMD Rain Barrels Guide PDF