Field Trips

Highlighting the best birding areas in East Central Florida

Celebrating 25 Years Showcasing the Best of Florida’s Space Coast  

What a remarkable place to visit! The county’s landscape was shaped by, and still is dominated by water. The north flowing St Johns River with numerous lakes and marshes borders its western side. On its eastern side, the Atlantic Ocean’s high energy waves crash against the edge of Florida’s largest barrier island. The Indian River Lagoon rules the landscape with two dozen habitats found within its watershed.

Along the lagoon’s western side, ancient sandy scrublands straddle the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. Two ocean inlets bookend the region: Ponce Inlet on the north end and Sebastian Inlet to the south.  

Festival field trips were chosen to highlight the best birding, wildlife, and habitat areas in the Space Coast region. They will be staffed by some of the world’s finest birding guides. What more could a space-age birder want?  

Where else can you find most of the Sunshine State’s most sought-after birds and wildlife all in one place? More than 330 species of birds are found in or migrate through our county. Alligators? We have them by the thousands. Hop on a St. Johns River airboat ride and you will see. Manatees? 1/3 of the state’s population of these beloved iconic animals can be found here. In February, they hover around a warm water discharge at a local power plant that’s off-limits to the public. We’ve made it easy to see manatees in their winter habitat and lots of waterbirds in their breeding plumage on the Manatees of Blue Spring and St. Johns River Cruise. Roseate Spoonbills and Reddish Egrets can be seen in a variety of places. Join the Blue Dolphin Ultimate Boat Birding & Wildlife Journey to see nesting spoonbills and other waders on a rookery island as well as a variety of ships (and birds) at Port Canaveral. 

Botttlenose Dolphins? You should see plenty on the Blue Dolphin Ultimate Boat Birding & Wildlife Journey; Beach Birds Boat Trip on the Halifax River; Barrier Island Center & Pelican Island Boat Trip, and the Offshore Birding & Wildlife Adventure. By the way, birders spotted 14 species of shorebirds on the Beach Birds Boat Trip on the Halifax River in 2020. The offshore trip also has a potential for sightings of Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, North Atlantic Right Whale and Humpback Whale. Sea turtles? We have them by the tens of thousands in the summertime. The only place where you are likely to spot one this time of the year is near the warm waters of the Gulfstream on the offshore trip.  

Some of the field trips will utilize buses for transportation. Others require attendees to drive their own vehicles and meet at the sites. Field trip leaders’ names and affiliations will be added to the trip descriptions later. Lists of the birds seen on the 2020 festival field trips are on the website now and can be found here. Please make sure that you fill up your water bottles prior to participating on a field trip and take them with you. Dress warmly in layers, wear closed-toed shoes and above all — have fun!   

Items with a flame icon are our most popular field trips and sell out quickly!

Items with a binocular  icon are recommended for beginning birders.

Field Trips at a Glance

February 2, 2021


Trips are listed in chronological order. Trips on the water are in blue. View trip descriptions in Field Trips A-Z below.

 


Lake Apopka Northshore  5:00 AM-4:00 PM, Maximum size: 21, Price: $ 120.00

 

North County River to the Sea Rundown  5:45 AM-4:30 PM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $ 120.00

 

Tosohatchee WMA 6:15 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 18, Price: $ 45.00

  

Offshore Birding and Wildlife Adventure  7:30 AM-5:00 PM, Maximum size: 70, Price: $195.00

 

Sebastian Inlet State Park  8:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price $35.00 

 

Beginning Birding at MINWR 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 12, Price: $ 35.00

 

Plants and Parks of Central Brevard 8:30 AM-4:00 PM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $30.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 10:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 5, Price: $90.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 12:00 PM-1:30 PM, Maximum size: 5, Price: $90.00

 

Blue Dolphin Ultimate Boat Birding and Wildlife Journey 2:00 PM-6:00 PM, Maximum size: 40, Price: $ 80.00

 

Black Rails at St. Johns NWR 4:15 PM-7:00 PM, Maximum size: 14, Price: $ 65.00

February 3, 2021

Trips are listed in chronological order. Trips on the water are in blue and trips to Environmentally Endangered Lands Sanctuaries are in green. View trip descriptions in Field Trips A-Z below.

 

Lake Apopka Northshore 5:00 AM-4:00 PM, Maximum size: 21, Price: $ 120.00

 

Shiloh’s Sharptails and Marsh Birds 6:15 AM-11:00 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $65.00

 

Salt Lake WMA Trailer Tour 6:45 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $25.00

 

Manatees of Blue Spring 7:15 AM-2:30 PM, Maximum size: 44, Price: $120.00

 

Sebastian Inlet State Park and Pelican Island NWR  8:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price $35.00

 

Learn to Bird Like the Experts 8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Maximum size: 12, Price: $65.00

 

FL Scrub-Jays at Cruickshank Sanctuary 8:30 AM-10:30 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $20.00

 

Indian Mound Station Hike 9:00 AM-11:00 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price $ 20.00

 

Dune to Lagoon Hike 9:30 AM-1:00 PM, Maximum size: 12, Price $20.00

 

Barrier Island Center and Pelican Island Fly-In 9:30 AM-7:30 PM, Maximum size: 36, Price: $ 135.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 10:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 5, Price: $90.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 12:00 PM-1:30 PM, Maximum size: 5, Price: $90.00

 

Gull Fly-In at Daytona Beach Shores 3:45 PM-6:00 PM, Maximum size: 30, Price: $50.00

 

Black Rails at St. Johns NWR 4:15 PM-7:00 PM, Maximum size: 14, Price: $ 65.00

 

Kayak Birding at Barge Canal Rookery 4:00 PM-6:30 PM, Maximum size: 8, Price: $70.00

February 4, 2021

Trips are listed in chronological order. Trips on the water are in blue and trips to Environmentally Endangered Lands Sanctuaries are in green. View trip descriptions below in Field Trips A-Z.

 

Central Florida Specialties 5:00 AM-4:00 PM, Maximum Size: 32, Price $ 120.00

 

South County River to the Sea Rundown 5:00 AM-4:00 PM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $ 120.00

 

Tosohatchee WMA 6:15 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 18, Price: $ 45.00

 

Salt Lake WMA Trailer Tour 6:45 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $25.00

 

Orlando Wetlands Park Trailer Tour 7:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $70.00

 

Manatees of Blue Spring 7:15 AM-2:30 PM, Maximum size: 44, Price: $120.00

 

Beginning Birding at MINWR 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 12, Price: $35.00

 

Learn to Bird Like the Experts 8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Maximum size: 12, Price: $65.00

 

Identifying Winter Songbirds 8:30 AM-10:30 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $ 20.00

 

Fox Lake Hike and Trailer Tour 9:00 AM-11:00 AM, Maximum size 16, Price: $20.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 10:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 5,  Price: $90.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 12:00 PM-1:30 PM, Maximum size: 5, Price: $90.00

 

Shorebirds of the Carr Refuge 1:00PM-3:00 PM, Maximum size: 15, Price: $ 20.00

 

Blue Dolphin Ultimate Boat Birding and Wildlife Journey 2:00 PM-6:00 PM, Maximum size: 40, Price: $ 80.00

 

Kayak Birding at Barge Canal Rookery 4:00 PM-6:30 PM, Maximum size: 8, Price: $70.00

Owls of Florida at Merritt Island NWR 5:30 PM-7:30 PM, Maximum size: 25, Price: $25.00

February 5, 2021

Trips are listed in chronological order. Trips on the water are in blue and trips to Environmentally Endangered Lands Sanctuaries are in green. View trip descriptions below in Field Trips A-Z.

 

North County River to the Sea Rundown 5:45 AM-4:30 PM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $120.00

 

Shiloh’s Sharptails and Marsh Birds 6:15 AM-11:00 AM, Maximum size: 18, Price: $65.00

 

Golden Hours Bird Photography – Viera Wetlands 6:30 am – 9:30 am; Limit 6 Registrants; $129.00

Birding by Ear and Habitat 6:30 AM-12:30 PM, Maximum size: 12, Price: $65.00

 

A Drive at Blue Heron Wetlands 7:00 AM-10:30 AM, Maximum size: 16, Price: $35.00

 

Orlando Wetlands Park Trailer Tour 7:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $70.00

 

Gulls and Other Waterbirds at Jetty Park 7:30 AM-10:30 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $45.00

 

Smyrna Dunes Park 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $ 35.00

Historic Sites of Canaveral National Seashore Feb. 5, 8:00am-5:00pm; Limit 12 Registrants; $90

 

Walk the Cruickshank Trail 8:30 AM- 12:30 PM, Maximum size 16, Price: $35.00

 

Horseshoe Crabs at the Titusville Causeway 9:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 16, Price: $20.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 10:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 5,  Price: $90.00

 

SouthPine Flatwoods Hike 10:00 AM-12:00 PM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $ 20.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 12:00 PM-1:30 PM, Maximum size: 5, Price: $90.00

 

Blue Dolphin 2:00 PM-6:00 PM, Maximum size: 40, Price: $ 80.00

 

Owls & Rails of MINWR 4:00 PM-8:00 PM, Maximum size: 10, Price: $ 65.00

 

Kayak Birding at Barge Canal Rookery 4:00 PM-6:30 PM, Maximum size: 8, Price: $70.00

 

Nocturnal Hike at the Enchanted Forest 6:30 PM-8:30 PM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $ 20.00

February 6, 2021

Trips are listed in chronological order. Trips on the water are in blue. View trip descriptions below in Field Trips A-Z.

 

Central Florida Specialties 5:00 AM-4:00 PM, Maximum size: 32, Price: $120.00

 

South County River to the Sea Rundown 5:00 AM-4:00 PM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $120.00

 

Birding by Ear and Habitat 6:30 AM-12:00 PM, Maximum size: 12, Price: $65.00

 

A Drive at Blue Heron 7:00 AM-10:30 AM, Maximum size: 16, Price: $35.00

 

Orlando Wetlands Park Trailer Tour 7:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 24, Price: $65.00

 

Gulls and Other Waterbirds at Jetty Park 7:30 AM-10:30 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $45.00

 

Smyrna Dunes 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum size: 20, Price: $35.00

 

Shorebird ID for Casual Birders 8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Maximum size: 20, Price $ 65.00

 

Betty Salter Trail at The Great Outdoors9:00 AM-12:00 PM, Maximum size: 14, Price: $35.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 10:00 AM-11:30 AM, Maximum Size: 5, Price: $90.00

 

Beach Birds Intro. and Halifax River Boat Trip 11:00 AM-5:00 PM, Maximum size: 36, Price: $95.00

 

Airboat Birding Along the St. Johns River 12:00 PM-1:30 AM, Maximum Size: 5, Price: $90.00

Field Trips A-Z


SCBWF Field Trips 2022

 

A Drive at Blue Heron
Wetlands

Feb. 5 & 6, 7:00am-10:30am;
Limit 16 Registrants; $35

Jeff Lamothe and Mark Wallace (Space
Coast Audubon)
with…

Meet at
7:00am at the south parking area of Cracker Barrel Restaurant,
4745 Helen Hauser Blvd, Titusville FL 32780.  There are no restrooms on the dikes. 

A variety of waterfowl, wading birds and marsh birds congregate in
the created wetlands at Blue Heron Water Treatment Facility.
This is a 3-mile
driving adventure on the dike road that surrounds the wetlands. Be prepared to
pull completely off the road and exit your vehicle at intervals in order to
gain better viewing and to use your scope. American and Least Bittern, Purple
Gallinule, Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Roseate Spoonbill, Black-crowned and
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Wood Duck, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, Bald
Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Caspian Tern and Marsh Wren are just a few of over 100
species
sighted
at Blue Heron. Birders may also see alligators.

 

Airboat
Birding Along the St Johns River

Feb. 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6, 10:00am-11:30am
and 12:00pm-1:30pm; Limit 5 Registrants; $90

Joan Tague (Halifax River Audubon)

Meet
at the Highway 50 Boat Ramp,
28500
East Colonial Drive, Christmas, FL 32709. You must be in reasonably good shape in order to get up into the high
seats on the airboat. Dress warmly (waterproof clothing is best) as it will be
very chilly out on the water. There are no restroom facilities here. 

Join a local
airboat guide, a professional birding guide and other birders on this exclusive
small personal tour as you glide along marshes and into a secluded cypress
swamp to view an abundance of wading birds, waterfowl and raptors on this
special adventure. This is optimal habitat for Snail Kites, Crested Caracaras,
and Bald Eagles.  In fact, 25 Bald Eagles
were observed on just one trip in 2020. The St Johns River floodplain is only
accessible by airboat due to the shallow depth. Your guides will point out the
habitats and ongoing activity of the many species that are found here. Other
wildlife, including alligators, may be encountered. You will enjoy the
exclusive combination of Captain Mike, a fifth generation Floridian who grew up
on here on the river, and a professional birding tour guide. This is a great
opportunity for birders who prefer to avoid strenuous walking or hiking.

 

Barrier
Island Center and Pelican Island Boat Trip

Feb. 3, 9:30am-7:30pm; Limit 36
Registrants; $135

Anne Birch
(The Nature Conservancy) & Ross Hinkle (
Professor Emeritus in
Biology, University of Central Florida
) with…

Meet in front of the Convention Center Building to board the bus. Bring money for late lunch at Blackfin’s Riverfront Grill at Capt. Hiram’s Resort in Sebastian, FL. Price includes a snack bag. Dress warmly as it will be chilly out on the water. Rain gear will cut the wind and is recommended.           

This trip begins with a personal tour of the Barrier Island Center (BIC) and a video followed by scoping for shorebirds and sea birds at the boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean. The BIC is located inside the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (ACNWR) on South Melbourne Beach, home to the most important sea turtle nesting habitat in the United States. More loggerhead sea turtles nest within the Carr Refuge than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, there has been a significant increase in both green and leatherback sea turtle nesting here. Following a bus ride to Sebastian, you will arrive at Capt. Hiram’s Resort for a late lunch and a boat tour to Pelican Island on the River King, a 45-foot USCG approved pontoon boat. Pelican Island became the first National Wildlife Refuge in the United States when it was designated as a bird sanctuary by President Roosevelt in March 1903. The refuge is famous for its Brown Pelican rookery, but 15 additional species also nest on the 4.2-acre Pelican Island, including Wood Stork, Anhinga, American Oystercatcher, and many herons and egrets. On the water look for American White Pelican, Lesser Scaup, Mottled Duck, Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser and many gulls and terns. Bottle-nosed dolphins are probable and sea turtles are possible. In the event of inclement weather, participants on the trip will view Pelican Island and the birds coming in to roost for the evening from the Refuge’s land-based location on the barrier island. Lunch will be served at Blackfin’s Riverfront Grill. Starters, soups, salads, and sandwiches range from $8-$19; entrees from $17-$29.

 


Beach Birds Boat Trip on the Halifax River


Feb. 6; 1:00pm-5:00pm; Limit 36 Registrants; $80


Adam Kent (FL Ornithological Society), Gina Kent (Avian Research & Conservation Institute), and Michael Brothers (Marine Science Center Pelagic Adventures) with…

Meet at 116 North Causeway (FL Highway 44), New Smyrna Beach, FL. This location is on the right, directly across from the Volusia Medical Center. Park in the grassy field. Please arrive 15 minutes early. There is a marine head on the boat but it is highly recommended that you use the restroom before boarding the boat. Bring water, snacks, and sunscreen and dress warmly. Rain gear will cut the wind and is recommended if it happens to be cold.       

A 4-hour boat trip on the Coast Guard certified 40-passenger pontoon boat, Discovery, will target Disappearing Island just after high tide, when large concentrations of gulls, terns and shorebirds will be congregating to feed on the exposed sandbar during the falling tide. Disappearing Island is located near the entrance to Ponce Inlet. Other exposed sand bars near the inlet and in the Halifax River will also be visited, if possible. Twenty species of shorebirds are possible here, including American Oystercatchers, Piping and Wilson’s Plovers, Purple Sandpipers and Red Knots. There is always a possibility of finding rarities such as a Glaucous or Iceland Gull among the many gulls that will be seen. Participants on this trip in 2020 saw 14 shorebird species, 5 gull species, 4 tern species, both night-herons and lots of bottlenose dolphins. The Saturday afternoon Beach Birds class will be a great introduction for this trip.    

 

Beginning Birding Field
Trip at MINWR

Feb. 2 & 4, 8:00am-11:30m; Limit
12 Registrants; $35

Kimberly King-Wrenn (USFWS
at Merritt Island NWR) with…

Meet at
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center to board a small bus.
There are restrooms at the Visitor Center. There are restroom facilities midway
through the Black Point Wildlife Drive.

John
Kim and ?? for an intimate morning of instruction and observation along the
highly acclaimed Black Point Wildlife Drive where there will be birds galore. They
will help you learn helpful hints for beginners on where to find birds and how
to identify them, interesting behaviors, and identification tricks of the
birding trade. Birding is far more than a hobby. It is an open door to the
world of nature, a touch point that connects people to the outdoors. Birding
inevitably leads to a discovery of turtles, butterflies, wildflowers and all
the interconnections of nature.

 

Betty Salter Trail at The Great Outdoors

Feb. 6, 9:00am-12:00pm; Limit 14
Registrants; $35

Betty Salter (The Great
Outdoors Trail Master & Naturalist), Barb Eager (Executive Director Space
Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival) & Tamie Bulow (Outreach Development
Coordinator SCBWF)  

Meet at
the parking lot across from the Great Outdoors Community Church, 144 Plantation
Drive, Titusville, FL 32780. Gate access is required at the entrance to The
Great Outdoors. Be prepared to show the gatekeeper your ID and explain that you
are there for a tour with Betty Salter. This is a combination golf cart and
walking tour. Drivers are provided for the golf carts. The walking distance is up
to 1 mile depending on previous weather conditions. Good hiking shoes &
walking stick recommended as the ground is sometimes torn up by feral hogs. It
is recommended that you use the restroom before arriving as there are no
restrooms available out on the trail. 

 

Explore
the land that was once owned by the Titusville Fruit and Farm Land Company who
attempted to dig the Addison Canal to drain the wetlands of the St Johns River.
As you enter the trail, there is a wet meadow on the right. In spring it is
covered in a variety of wildflowers. The first half of the trail has little
shade as it passes between wetlands, ponds, and the Canaveral Marshes tract of
St. Johns River Water Management District. Midway through the trail there is a
30-foot-long twelve-inch-wide concrete weir with a coated wire cable handrail
which we will cross. To the left is a borrow pond and to the right a streambed
connected to the St. Johns River. The second half of the trail is shaded by
pines, palms, cedars and oak trees. Cattle pastures, ponds, forest and marshes
flank this part of the trail. Egrets and herons, ducks and shorebirds as well
as bobcats, deer and alligators have been seen on this trail. There are two
places along this part of the trail where water from the wetlands have breached
the berm and may contain water.  The
spots are not very deep and are about 2-3 feet wide. Birds that might be seen include
Sandhill Cranes, Great Horned Owls, Osprey and Red-Shouldered Hawks. After the
tour, consider having lunch at the Blue Heron Restaurant or the Juke Box Café.

 

Birding by Ear and Habitat
Outdoor Workshop

Feb. 5 & 6; 6:30am-12:30pm;
Limit 12 Registrants; $65

Paddy Cunningham
(Birding Adventures)  
 

Meet at
the Oak Hammock Trail parking lot, 1/2 mile east of the MINWR Visitor Center.
There are no restrooms here. A restroom stop will be made at the Refuge Visitor
Center following the walk on the Oak Hammock Trail.  

Birding
by Habitat helps you determine what birds you are likely to see in an area.
Birding by Ear helps to locate and identify the unique sounds of each bird. In
this session, a variety of field techniques will be covered to help you
increase your birding skills. We will travel to various habitats: scrub,
pinelands, open field, shoreline, open water, wetlands, and roadsides to see
the role of habitat in identification. Handouts will be distributed and
discussed. Historically, this workshop averages 80 species. Paddy Cunningham is
a Naturalist, owner of Birding Adventures, and the Everglades Birding Festival
Coordinator. Her motto is “You learn the ID,” and she excels in teaching
birding skills in a non-intimidating field experience.     

 

Black Rails at the St. Johns NWR

Feb.
2 & 3; 4:15pm-7:00pm; Limit 14 Registrants; $65

Kimberly King-Wrenn (U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service MINWR), David Simpson (Birding with David Simpson)
& Erin Lehnert
(M.Sc. Ornithology)  

 

Meet the
trucks at 4:15pm at the south parking area of Cracker Barrel Restaurant,
4745 Helen Hauser Blvd, Titusville FL 32780.  There are no restrooms
at the site.
This entails
a walk THRU the marsh, not on a boardwalk, trail, or a levee.
You may get wet walking through water, mud,
and grass. Old shoes, or ‘knee’ boots are advised depending on the amount of
rain on the site.
It will get cold – you may be out after dark.
Please dress warmly.

A caravan of USFWS trucks will carry attendees into the
restricted access St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge. Preserved as the last
home of the now-extinct Dusky Seaside Sparrow, these marshes west of Titusville
are unique because here saline water seeps to the surface from a layer of salty
water that lies above the Floridan Aquifer, creating marine-type habitats in
the middle of a huge freshwater floodplain – perfect for secretive marsh birds.
King Rails and Virginia Rails are possible too. As the sun sets on the marsh
horizon and wading birds flock to their roosts, we will make stops and play
tapes to try to entice rails to call. Erin studied rails
for her Master’s Degree in Ornithology at University of Central Oklahoma.  

 

Blue Dolphin Ultimate Boat Birding and Wildlife Journey

Feb. 2-5, 2:00pm-6:00pm;
Limit 40 Registrants; $80

Mark
& Michelle Anderson (Blue Dolphin) with

Feb. 2 & 3: Betty Salter (The Great Outdoors Trail Master and Naturalist)

Feb. 4 & 5: Greg Miller (Wildside Nature Tours)

A non-alcoholic drink, snack and lunch from Fishlips Waterfront Bar and Grill are included on Feb. 3. A non-alcoholic drink and snack are included on Feb. 2, 4 & 5.

Please arrive 15 minutes early. Bring water and sunscreen. There is a marine head on the boat but it is recommended that you use the restrooms at Kelly Park prior to going on the boat tour. Dress warmly as it will be chilly out on the water. Rain gear will cut the wind and is recommended if it happens to be cold.

Welcome aboard the Blue Dolphin, a 49-passenger Coast Guard approved pontoon boat operated by Mark and Michele Anderson. They have been running eco-tours in this part of Florida as Space Coast River Tours for more than 18 years. This newly expanded four-hour adventure will start at Kelly Park East, which is just 6 minutes from the Radisson Resort. The tour will take you through the Barge Canal, a scenic waterway with great photo ops, to a popular wading bird rookery island in the Indian River Lagoon, where Roseate Spoonbills, White Ibises, and many species of egrets and herons will be nesting. On the trip back through the Barge Canal you’ll see more wildlife – there might even be an alligator or two. We will cross the Banana River, pass through the Canaveral Locks and into Port Canaveral – the 2nd busiest cruise ship port in the world — where you may see the Space X fleet of rocket recovery ships, cargo ships, tankers, U.S. Navy ships, commercial fish houses, local marinas and plenty of birds! In addition, you are likely to see dolphins. A flock of American White Pelicans is normally seen at the entrance to the locks and during the cruise you will see Ospreys and other raptors, Wood Storks, Northern Gannets, pelicans, cormorants, gulls, terns and lots of egrets and herons. Past trips have produced such uncommon visitors as Common Eider, Magnificent Frigatebird and Sabine’s Gull. On the way back you’ll be treated to a Florida sunset. Soft drinks and snacks are included and yes, there is a restroom aboard. We are looking forward to seeing you aboard the Blue Dolphin.

 

Central Florida
Specialties

Feb.
4 & 6, 5:00am-4:00pm; Limit 32 Registrants; $120

Jim Eager (Obsessive Compulsive Birding) & Dave Goodwin (FL
Ornithological Society) with…

Meet in front of the
Convention Center Building to board the bus.
Box lunch is provided. Restroom stops will be made along the way. Includes box lunch.

A
pre-dawn start at Three Lakes WMA will target Red-cockaded Woodpeckers,
Bachman’s Sparrows, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Pine Warblers and Eastern
Bluebirds. Next stop is Lake Marian Marina to look for Limpkins, night-herons
and Bonaparte’s Gulls.  Next destination
is Joe Overstreet Road to search for Red-headed Woodpeckers. Along the road
Eastern Meadowlarks, Savannah Sparrows, Sandhill Cranes, Wild Turkeys, American
Kestrels and other raptors may be seen. Crested Caracaras and Bald Eagles nest
in this area. At Joe Overstreet Landing on Lake Kissimmee we’ll look for Snail
Kites, Limpkins and Purple Gallinules in addition to the usual wading birds and
inland gulls and terns. At Chapman’s Double C Bar Ranch large flocks of
Sandhill Cranes are often found. Last stop will be at the Cruickshank Sanctuary
in Rockledge for Florida’s only endemic bird, the Florida Scrub-Jay. 

                 

Dune-to-Lagoon Hike and
Estuarine Exploration

Feb. 3, 9:30am-1:00pm; Limit 12 Registrants; $20

South Beaches EEL Staff
Shelby Wood & Joy Winet

Meet at Juan
Ponce de Leon Landing Park, 4005 Florida A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951 (Meet
by the statue). 

Enjoy a guided hike from
Dune-to-Lagoon to explore the diverse habitats of the barrier island along the
3/4-mile trail at Coconut Point Sanctuary. The guided hike includes great
possibilities of shorebird sightings both beachside and along the Indian River
Lagoon (IRL). Next, caravan to Hog Point Cove Sanctuary (5-minute drive), to
enjoy birding from the private dock and option to picnic lunch with a fabulous
view of the IRL (participants need to bring their own lunch). At Hog Point Cove
participants will also learn about the ongoing shoreline restoration work and
be invited to seine and identify organisms of the IRL. Please bring personal
needs including water, sunscreen/hat, bug spray, water shoes and pants that can
get wet if planning on seine netting. Closed toed shoes and long pants are
recommended for the trail hike portion. 

 

Florida Scrub Jay Hike at
Cruickshank Sanctuary

Feb. 3,
8:30am-10:30am; Limit 20 Registrants; $20

Vince
Lamb & Mark Prynoski

Meet at
the Helen & Alan Cruickshank Sanctuary, 360 Barnes Blvd, Rockledge, FL. There are no restrooms at the site.  

The Helen and Alan Cruickshank Sanctuary in
Rockledge is considered to be one of the best Environmentally Endangered Lands
(EEL) Sanctuary properties to observe Florida Scrub-Jays, a threatened species
that is Florida’s only endemic bird. When the environment meets their needs,
Florida Scrub-Jays will spend their entire lives on the same lands. The
Cruickshank Sanctuary is located on the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, a sandy relic
maritime dune line that extends along the Florida East Coast from Jacksonville
down to Miami.
Patches
of oak, sand pine scrub, and freshwater depression marshes add to the
Sanctuary’s diversity
. Since the EEL Program began land management at
the
168-acre Sanctuary, the Florida Scrub-Jay population has increased from a
few visiting birds to established colonies today — approximately 22 birds in 5
separate families. Gopher tortoises, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, scrub lizards and
other species requiring scrub habitat are often observed in the Sanctuary. (Be
sure to wear a hat, closed toe shoes, bring water, and sunscreen).

 

Golden Hours Bird Photography – Viera Wetlands

6:30 am – 9:30 am; Limit 6 Registrants; $129.00

Meet at the Viera Wetlands Park parking lot, 10001 N Wickham Rd, Melbourne, FL 32940 Restrooms are available at the parking lot but not out on the dikes.

Join Lisa Langell, Kevin Loughlin and Lee Hoy for this fun adventure, Golden Hours Bird Photography – Viera Wetlands by car! Only 6 participants will join this trip for a very informative, hands-on opportunity at this beautiful, regional water treatment area. Located between the Moccasin Island Tract of the River Lakes Conservation Area and the Brevard Zoo, Viera Wetlands encompasses 200 acres divided into four cells with a central lake and observation tower. Viera Wetlands is a popular destination for birders, photographers and eco-tourists. More than 200,000 people come to the wetlands each year. The berms at Viera Wetlands are accessible on foot or by bicycle, and frequently open to automobiles; however, wet conditions sometimes prohibit vehicles.

 

Fox Lake Sanctuary Hike & Trailer Tour

Feb. 4,
9:00am-11:00am; Limit 16 Registrants; $20

Patty Rendon &
Jonny Baker

Meet at
Fox Lake Sanctuary/Fox Lake Park, 4400 Fox Lake Road., Titusville, FL. Follow
the paved road around to the trailhead near the boat ramp at the western side
of the park by the large pavilion. There is a restroom by the pavilion that you
should use prior to leaving on the hike.

The 2,568-acre Fox Lake Sanctuary
preserves a fine example of the upland and wetland communities that once
covered larger areas of Brevard County. The effects of natural prescribed
burning and other habitat restoration efforts here have resulted in a striking
old Florida landscape that supports a high number of endemic plant and animal
species. We will enjoy a hike through the mesic flatwoods to the lake overview,
and a leisurely bench-trailer ride back to the trailhead through the oak-saw
palmetto scrub to view Florida Scrub-Jays and other wildlife.

 

 

Gull Fly-In at Daytona
Beach Shores

Feb. 3; 3:45pm-6:00pm; Limit 30
Registrants; $50

Michael Brothers
(Marine Science Center Pelagic Adventures) & Amar Ayyash (
www.anythinglarus.com) with…   

Meet at
Frank Rendon Park, 2705 S. Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach Shores, FL. There are
restrooms at the park. 

This
beach is known for the amazing spectacle of what may be the largest
congregation of gulls on any beach in the US. In addition to the incredible
array and density of gulls, the birds allow close approach. This presents an
extraordinary opportunity to observe and photograph minute details on each
species, and a chance to compare various plumages and age classes. The astounding
concentration builds to possibly as many as 30,000 gulls each evening. Seen
consistently here are species that are rare in Florida, including the only
record of Vega Gull. Laughing, Franklin, Ring-billed, Herring, Bonaparte’s,
Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, Glaucous, Iceland, Thayer’s and
California Gulls have all been recorded here. Possible European Herring Gull,
Yellow-legged Gull and a Slaty-backed Gull have appeared. This beach is also
the best location in Florida to regularly see jaegers from shore. Each evening
the gulls leave the beach and settle on the ocean just beyond the breakers. Pomarine
and Parasitic Jaegers regularly patrol these huge groups, harassing the gulls.

 

Gulls and Other Waterbirds
at Jetty Park

Feb. 5 & 6, 7:30am-10:30am; Limit 20 Registrants; $45

Amar Ayyash (www.anythinglarus.com) with…

Meet at Jetty Park: 400 Jetty Park Drive, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920. Registration for this activity includes the entrance fee to the park. Once inside the gate, go all the way to the east end of the park and park near the boardwalk to the beach.

Don’t miss out on
this fun opportunity to spend time in the field with some of the birding
world’s premier gull connoisseurs. There’s a lot going on where the waters of Port
Canaveral kiss the sea. Watercraft of all shapes and sizes come and go, from
commercial and recreational fishing boats to some of the world’s largest cruise
ships. Jetty Park features a 1200-foot fishing pier over the top of a rock
jetty that teems with wildlife – don’t be surprised if you spot a juvenile
green sea turtle grazing on algae that grows on the rocks or you sight a bottlenose
dolphin. Here, lush vegetated dunes give way to a wide shoreline where all
types of beach birds hang out, from several species of gulls and terns,
shorebirds and even wading birds that feed in the surf. This natural habitat
provides a much nicer backdrop than a landfill to compare plumages and age
classes of several gull species. We’ll also see gannets feeding offshore,
sometimes fairly close, as well as the occasional jaeger, especially if
shrimp boats are out. Don’t worry if you’re not an expert birder for this walk.
Dedicated larophiles can hang out with Amar. Other
leaders will be happy to teach you the basics of how to identify the array of birds
you will see on this beach walk. 

 

 

Historic Sites of Canaveral National Seashore

Feb 5, 8:00am-5:00pm; Limit 12 Registrants; $90

John & Edie Stiner 

Meet in front of the Convention Center Building to board the van.

Bring money for lunch at J.B.’s Fish Camp on Mosquito Lagoon in New Smryna Beach.

An undeveloped beach with up to 8,000 sea turtle nests each summer contains a variety of resources. Walk with former National Park Service Ranger John Stiner as he visits four sites and unfolds intriguing secrets. Turtle Mound, one of the tallest, best-known archeological sites in Florida is displayed on Spanish maps in the 16th century, being an important navigational guide. Climb to the top and view a panorama of ocean, estuary and beaches. Castle Windy is a smaller mound, lying in the shadows of maritime hammock on the edge of Mosquito Lagoon. Learn of the mystery here for birders to ponder. Seminole Rest dates back 4,000 years. Archeological discoveries and dialog with Native Americans make this site worth visiting. El Dora State House displays life along Florida waterway in the early 1900’s, reflecting a less hectic era. Learn about a dramatic clash between French Huguenots and Spanish soldiers in 1565 that may have changed the history of Florida, leaving clues about a still undiscovered shipwreck in park waters.   

 

Horseshoe Crabs at the
Titusville Causeway

Feb. 5, 9:00am-11:30am; Limit 16 Registrants;
$20

Dave Grant

Details to be posted at a later date.

 

Identifying Winter
Songbirds

Feb. 4, 8:30am-10:30am; Limit 20
Registrants; $20

Dr. Kathryn Wells & Alex Schilling

Meet at Sams House,
6195 N. Tropical Trail, Merritt Island, FL.

Merritt Island is home to many winter visitors. Meet
in the oldest standing structure in Brevard County while we go over some tricks
and tips that will help with identifying these songbirds that like to hang
around this time of year.  After the
presentation we will take a short trip around the Sams
House grounds where we will try out our new skills and see if we can spot some
visitors. (Closed toe shoes are advised). 

 

 

Indian
Mound Station Sanctuary Guided Hike

Feb. 3, 9:00am-11:00am, Limit 20 Registrants; $20

Patty
Rendon & Jonny Baker

Meet at Indian Mound Station Sanctuary, 4001 Parrish Road.,
Mims, FL.  Meet at trailhead on either side of the road. There are no
restrooms at the site.  

The
Indian Mound Station is a 147-acre property managed by the EEL Program.
This land consists scrub, pine flatwoods, depression marshes, and
forested wetlands. The site provides protection to a bald eagle nest, a Native
American burial mound, and a Florida Scrub-Jay family. Join this field trip to
explore the area undergoing habitat restoration, observe the native flora, and
watch for Florida Scrub-Jay flyovers and occasional landings on your head.

 

 

Lake Apopka Northshore

Feb. 2 & 3, 5:00am-4:00pm; Limit
21 Registrants; $120

Meet in front of the Convention Center Building at the Radisson Resort at the Port to board the bus. Box lunch is included. There are porta potties located throughout the restoration area.

Maria Zondervan (St
Johns River Water Management District) with

This
property is one of the premier locations in the southeastern United States to
observe birds. A 1998 Christmas Bird Count identified 174 species of birds in
the area, the highest species total for an inland count in the 115-year history
of the CBC. The list of birds found here continues to grow, with 369 species having
been recorded.

During the
winter months, more than 150 species regularly use the property, from showy
herons and egrets to ducks and shorebirds and numerous tiny warblers and
flycatchers. Other wildlife found here includes
alligators, turtles, bobcats, otters, raccoons, snakes and coyotes. Former
farmlands make up the Lake Apopka North Shore, a restoration area where the St.
Johns River Water Management District’s major activities include marsh and
floodplain restoration and the creation of a marsh flow-way that filters Lake
Apopka’s waters by circulating lake water through restored wetlands and  returning cleaner water to the lake. If the
weather allows, attendees will tour in the District’s bench trailer, starting
with the dawn chorus at the most optimum spot and continuing on the wildlife
drive, which will be closed to the public.

 

Learn to Bird Like the Experts

Feb. 3 & 4,
8:00am-12:00pm; Limit 12 Registrants; $65

Kevin
Karlson (Kevin T. Karlson Photography)   

Meet at the north side of the Parrish Park Boat Ramp parking lot by the picnic pavilions. There
are restrooms nearby at the east end of Parrish Park. There are restrooms halfway through the
Black Point Wildlife Drive on MINWR. 

Come
along as Kevin combines the traditional field mark approach to ID with a more
holistic one that incorporates physical features and behavior to reach a more
complete ID picture. Most of the expert guides use this combined approach on a
regular basis, and you too can improve your field skills by employing this
technique. This approach concentrates initially on the relative size, shape,
structure and behavior of every bird, and then fills in the blanks using
conventional field marks and details. Come and experience a different way of
identifying and looking at birds, with an emphasis on having fun and sharing with
others. Kevin’s book Birding by Impression: A Different Approach to Knowing
and Identifying Birds
was released in 2015, and covers this exciting ID
technique in detail.

 

Manatees
of Blue Spring and St. Johns River Cruise

Feb.
3 & 4, 7:15am-2:30pm; Limit 44 Registrants; $120

David Hartgrove (Halifax River Audubon) & Megan
Berg (Space Coast Audubon) with…

Meet in front of the Convention Center Building to board
the bus.
There is a marine head on the boat but it is
highly recommended that you use the restrooms at Blue Spring State Park prior
to leaving on the boat tour. Price includes lunch.

This special
trip consists of a visit to Blue Spring State Park (BSSP) and a boat tour on
the St. Johns River. The morning will start with a walk along the shore of Blue
Spring Run to observe Florida’s most charismatic megafauna, the West Indian
Manatee, and bird the woodlands surrounding the spring run. What makes BSSP so
unique and special is that during colder months its crystal-clear waters are
one Florida’s best places to watch the manatees and other wildlife such as
fish, turtles, birds and alligators in their natural habitat. During manatee
season, which runs approximately from mid-November through March, several
hundred manatees can be viewed atop the spring’s overlooks on cold days. Lunch
will be served on a river cruise onboard a U.S. Coast Guard approved pontoon
boat that was specially designed to ply the shallow backwaters of this unique
section of the historic St. Johns River. The captain is a licensed Coast Guard
captain who knows the history of the area and the wildlife that abounds. It
leaves from BSSP, passes through a historic cypress logging canal and into the Hontoon Dead River, where you will experience the wild and
pristine Florida swamp as it has been over the centuries. Highlights from last
year include more than a dozen Purple Gallinules, over two dozen Limpkins, more
than three dozen Anhingas, both night herons and 5
species of woodpeckers. 

 

Nocturnal Nature Hike at Enchanted
Forest

Feb. 5,
6:30pm-8:30pm, Limit 20 Registrants; $20

Patty Rendon (EEL
Program)

Meet at
the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary, 444 Columbia Blvd., Titusville, FL.

Whhoooo… is ready for a nocturnal adventure at the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary?
Join Patty for a night of discovery and exploration on and off the marked
trails.  Please wear closed-toe shoes and
bring water, bug spray and a flashlight.

 

North County River to the Sea Rundown  

Feb. 2 & 5, 5:45am-4:30pm; Limit
24 Registrants; $120

Sarah Anderson &
Wayne Archard (Space Coast Audubon) with…

Meet in front of the Convention Center Building at the Radisson Resort at the Port to board the bus. Includes lunch. This trip requires some moderate walking.
Restroom stops will be made along the way.

Northern
Brevard County is home to some of our nation’s most significant conservation
lands. Owned and managed by a variety of agencies, they span the landscape from
the St Johns River on the west side to the Atlantic Ocean on the east. Join us
for a laid-back trip through the pines and palmettos of North Brevard’s
scrublands and wetlands to see as many birds as we can find. We will relish the
rising sun by the side of the St Johns River as the birds awaken and flock to
the floodplain, then work our way to the high energy beaches of the Atlantic
Ocean. Numerous woodland birds, marsh birds, wading birds, beach birds and
raptors are possible – over a three-day span in 2020, this trip tallied 125
species. Sites to be visited will include Hatbill
Park, Seminole Ranch, Chain of Lakes Park, the Titusville waterfront, Merritt
Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore

 

Offshore Birding and Wildlife Adventure

Feb. 2; 7:30am-5:00pm;
Limit 70 Registrants; $195

If the weather is bad
and the boat cannot go on Feb. 2, the make-up day is Monday, Feb. 7.

Leaders:
Michael Brothers (Marine Science Center Pelagic
Adventures) with Julie Albert (Marine Resources Council Right Whale
Coordinator), Chris Brown and Gabriel Lugo (Wildside
Nature Tours), Bert Alm (Space Coast Audubon), Jim
Eager (Obsessive Compulsive Birding), Dave Goodwin (FL Ornithological Society), and Mitchell Harris and David Hartgrove (Halifax River Audubon) 

Meet: at the Canaveral Princess, 670 Glen Cheek Drive, Port
Canaveral, FL; Phone: 321-784-6300.  
www.orlandoprincess.com. The
Canaveral Princess docks between Rusty’s and Gator’s Dockside
Restaurants in Port Canaveral. Please arrive 20
minutes early. The boat is not ADA accessible.

Bring: food and beverages,
seasickness medicine,
sunscreen and
personal items. Food service will not be available on the
boat. Dress warmly, bring full rain gear and
wear waterproof shoes!

Join us on the Canaveral Princess, an 85-foot, single-hull boat with
excellent
observation
areas on the upper deck, bow and stern. We will first visit working shrimp
boats for the birds that follow them. Our chumming behind the boat will result
in a crowd of gulls, terns, pelicans and gannets to watch from amazingly close
quarters. Once we’ve collected some birds to follow our boat, if the weather
permits, we’ll set out for the Gulf Stream. Our destination will be an undersea
formation known as “The Steeples,” a productive setting of cliffs and seamounts
that create upwellings and current edges along the western edge of the Gulf
Stream. Our
targets will be all of the wildlife we can find,
including jellyfish and fish.

Bottlenose and Spotted Dolphins are
expected. Sea turtles and Humpback Whales are possible, as are endangered North
Atlantic Right Whales. Julie Albert, Florida Coordinator for the Northern Right
Whale Program will be onboard. Julie holds a research permit that allows any
vessel she is on to get closer than the 1500-foot buffer that all other boats
must adhere to when a North Atlantic Right Whale is spotted. 

Birds likely to be seen include Northern
Gannet; Pomarine and Parasitic Jaeger and several species of gulls and terns.
Birds we hope to see include Audubon’s, Cory’s, Great and Manx Shearwater;
Band-rumped Storm Petrel; Bridled and Sooty Tern;
Brown Booby; Red Phalarope; Black-legged Kittiwake and Sabine’s Gull. You never
know what you might encounter on the sea, the prospect of spotting something
extraordinary is always there. If the weather is too rough to get offshore, the
day will be spent instead closer to shore playing with the shrimp boats.
Rehabilitated sea birds and/or sea turtles will be released if any are
ready. 

 

** If the trip does not go as scheduled on
Wednesday, February 2nd, you will automatically be rescheduled for
Monday, February 7th.  If the trip is cancelled on both dates
due to inclement weather as determined by the boat’s captain, only
then
 will you receive a full refund.  Please do not book this
trip if you are not prepared to stay through Monday should the 
need arise due to schedule change. If the trip does not go as scheduled
on Feb. 2nd and DOES go on Feb. 7ththere
will be NO refunds for anyone who cannot be on board on Feb. 7th
!
Don’t worry if the boat does go on Wednesday and you are still here on
Monday.  There are plenty of places to bird and things to do here on the
Space Coast.  The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tops the list.

 

Orlando Wetlands Park
Trailer Tour
    

Feb.
4, 5 & 6, 7:00am-11:30am; Limit 24; $70

Feb. 4 & 5 Beck Smith (Archaeopteryx Birding and Nature Tours)
Feb. 6 Beck Smith (Archaeopteryx Birding and Nature Tours), Christina Baal (Drawing 10,000 Birds and Erin)

Meet at the Orlando Wetlands Park parking lot,
25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas,
FL 32709

Restrooms are available at the parking lot but
not out on the dikes.  

This regional water treatment area, owned by the City of Orlando,
began receiving reclaimed water in 1987, submerging the 1700-acre Sun Charm
Ranch beneath millions of gallons of treated sewage. For 30 years the City
closed the park during winter months so that the former owners could hunt
waterfowl, until 2016 when it bought the hunting rights. Join us as we take a
trip into the park where more than 220 bird species have been identified
including Wood Storks, Bald Eagles, Crested Caracaras, Limpkins, Purple
Gallinules, rails and spoonbills. Painted Buntings lurk in some of the dense
vegetation bordering the 20 miles of roads and woodland trails leading through
marshes, hardwood hammocks and along scenic lakes. Large numbers of waterfowl
and wading birds are expected.
Other wildlife found
here includes alligators, turtles, deer, hogs, bobcats, otters, raccoons, opossums,
snakes and coyotes.
There will be multiple
stops with walking to spy the best birds.

 

Owls and Rails of Merritt Island NWR

Feb. 5, 4:00pm-8:00pm; Limit 10
Registrants;
$65

Mitchell
Harris (Florida Ornithological Society)

Meet
at the north side of the Parrish Park Boat Ramp parking lot by the picnic
pavilions. There are restrooms nearby at the east end of Parrish Park. There
will be no restrooms available out on the Refuge dikes or trails.   

 

Join
Mitchell for an evening out in search of the denizens of the dark at Merritt
Island National Wildlife Refuge. We’ll search the marshes and hammocks for
Great Horned, Screech, Barred and possibly Short-eared Owl. Before we begin our
search for owls, we will spend some time along the marshes of Peacock’s Pocket
listening for rails. In the past we’ve had good luck with four species of rails
in these marshes, including Black Rail. So, if you are interested in nocturnal
birds, just bring your sense of curiosity and a flashlight or two.

 

Owls of Florida at Merritt
Island NWR   

Feb. 4, 5:30pm-7:30pm; Limit 25
Registrants; $25

Susan Boorse

Meet at the Oak Hammock Trail parking lot.   

Meet two representatives of our owl species that reside in Florida and learn about the habitat and importance of the owls of Florida. Susan will treat you to a talk on the World of Florida Owls featuring her rehabilitation ward ambassadors, Strix, the Barred Owl and Dora, an Eastern Screech Owl. After the presentation a short nocturnal observation journey into the habitat of the Oak and Palm Hammock Trails will introduce you to the After Dark World of the trails. There will be no moon and the trails will be dark. Hiking shoes and a good flashlight for the trail hike are advised. 

 

Plants and Parks of Central Brevard

Feb 2, 9:00am-4:00pm; Limit 20 Registrants; $30

Jim Stahl and Al Brayton (Space Coast Audubon)  

Meet in the parking lot at Erna Nixon Park, 1200 Evans Road, Melbourne FL 32904. Participants will drive their own cars to the different locations.  Bring money for lunch at a local eatery.

 

A leisurely visit to four different parks will introduce you to a variety of unique habitats, one of which is dependable for Florida Scrub-Jays. The morning will begin at Erma Nixon Park, a lush mature oak hammock where a boardwalk provides a perch from which to immerse yourself in the forest without getting your feet wet or dirty. Next stop is Wickham Park, an urban park with a network of narrow trails that meander through oak hammocks, scrub, pine flatwoods, and along marshy streams. After a stop at a local eatery for a salad or sandwich, the next stop is the Alan and Helen Cruickshank Sanctuary, a Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program property that is considered to be the best EEL property in which to observe Florida Scrub-Jays, gopher tortoises, scrub lizards and other species that require scrub habitat. Patches of oak scrub, sand pine scrub, and freshwater depression marshes contribute to the sanctuary’s diversity. The final stop will be at Riverwalk Park, a maritime hammock on the Indian River Lagoon, to view mangroves and other salt marsh vegetation. Each site will include short walks on boardwalks or well-maintained trails. We will primarily discuss wildflowers, shrubs and other plants, and also any birds, butterflies and other critters we come across. Leaders will be retired biologist Jim Stahl, President of Space Coast Audubon, and Al Brayton, an expert local birder.

 

Salt Lake Wildlife
Management Area Trailer Tour

Feb. 3 & 4, 6:45am-11:30am;
Limit 24 Registrants; $25  

Dave Turner & Bryan
Ames (FL Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) & Chris Newton

(Local Naturalist) with…

Meet at
Salt Lake WMA, 1590 Arch Rd., Mims. There is a porta pottie
located at the Salt Lake WMA main entrance. No restroom facilities are
available during the trip.

Salt Lake WMA’s 8,000 acres border three large lakes and the St.
Johns River in northern Brevard County. Don’t miss this chance to explore it in
a bench seat trailer.
Home
to a spectacular range of natural communities, this beautiful property includes
pine flatwoods, hardwood hammocks and oak scrub on higher ground. Oak and
cabbage palm hammocks, swamps, freshwater marshes, wet prairies, and salt flats
occupy the wetter locales. Numerous wading birds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and
raptors can be found on the lakes and marshes and the river. Bald Eagles and
Wild Turkeys are commonly seen. The flatwoods provide good habitat for
woodpeckers and songbirds, such as the Eastern Bluebird and Bachman’s Sparrow. Gopher
tortoises, deer, feral hogs, river otters, alligators and turtles may also be
seen. This extraordinary opportunity to be able to ride through the management
area rather than walk it, as well as the reasonable cost, is a benefit of the
Watchable Wildlife Public Access Program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission. 

 

Sebastian Inlet State Park and Pelican Island NWR

Feb. 2 & 3: 8:00am-11:30am; Limit 20 Registrants; $35.00

David Simpson (Birding with David Simpson) with George Thomas (Space Coast Audubon) and…

Meet on site at the northern side of Sebastian Inlet State Park, 9700 S Hwy A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951. After paying at the toll gate ($4 per individual or $8 per car), drive under the bridge and meet down by the inlet. 

Spend a morning at two of the Treasure Coast’s best birding spots. Spanning both sides of the Sebastian Inlet and the barrier island on which it is situated, this popular state park has beach and Indian River Lagoon frontage, coastal strand, maritime hammock and mangrove habitats. A diversity of wading birds and shorebirds occur here along with offshore species that might be seen, such as gannets, jaegers, shearwaters and storm petrels. Mangrove margins and the interior hardwood hammock may host migratory songbirds. We will check the tidal pond for shorebirds, gulls, terns, and possibly Reddish Egret.  Rarities such as Purple Sandpiper,Black-legged Kittiwake, and others have been known to be here. The beaches attract numerous gulls and Black Skimmers and Magnificent Frigatebirds are often floating overhead. After checking out the inlet, we will head to Pelican Island NWR where we will learn about our nation’s first National Wildlife Refuge while looking for songbirds in the restored orange groves and waterfowl and shorebirds in the wetlands. American White Pelicans and many species of ducks and shorebirds overwinter here. Pelican Island itself can be scoped from an elevated observation tower, accessed via the ¾-mile Centennial Trail, which showcases the history of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge is famous for its Brown Pelican rookery but more than 15 additional species nest, feed, and rest on the 5-acre island, including Wood Stork, Double-crested Cormorant, Roseate Spoonbill, and egrets and herons. While scoping the open waters of the Indian River Lagoon, we may see Horned Grebe, Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, and Lesser Scaup.   

 

Shiloh’s Sharptails, Marshbirds and More

Feb. 3 & 5; 6:15am-11:00am; Limit 20
Registrants; $65

Mitchell
Harris (FL Ornithological Society) with

Meet
at the Circle K, 6004 US Highway 1, Mims, FL. Use the restroom there if
necessary because there are no restrooms available for the remainder of the
morning.  

This trip begins in the marshes
where Turnbull Creek drains into the northern end of the Indian River Lagoon.
There we will look for both Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows, Sedge Wrens and
Clapper Rails. Short-eared Owls are seen here occasionally as well. After ample
time in the marsh we’ll walk east along the dike system that skirts the edge of
Shiloh’s extensive marshes and impoundments looking for ducks, shorebirds and
waders. This is an area of rich estuaries and ponds that teem with wildlife.
Bring Muck Boots or shoes that you don’t mind getting wet for the sparrow
search. You can change your shoes before starting on the walk, which will be
3-4 four miles long. 

 

 

Shorebird
ID for Casual Birders

Feb. 6, 8:00am-12:00pm; Limit 20 Registrants; $65

Kevin Karlson (Kevin T. Karlson Photography) with…

Meet at the north side of the Parrish Park Boat
Ramp parking lot by the picnic pavilions
. There are restrooms nearby at the east end of
Parrish Park. There are restrooms halfway through the Black Point Wildlife
Drive on MINWR. 

Join author and professional field trip
leader Kevin Karlson as he shares a simple and more effective approach to
shorebird ID highlighted in his bestselling book The Shorebird Guide.
With an initial focus on basic impressions of size, shape and body motion for
all birds seen, a more effective starting point is achieved for your ID
pursuit.
Basic plumage patterns
and behavior are then added to complete your ID. Natural history information is
also shared to enhance your appreciation of all birds seen on this trip. Come
and experience a different way of looking at birds, and enjoy Kevin’s simple
way of explaining the ID of a bird family that often causes confusion for
birders.
Beginners and
expert level tips will be shared, with something for everyone involved. This is
Kevin’s only shorebird trip at the 2022 Space Coast Festival, so be sure to
sign up early.

 

Shorebirds of the Carr Refuge

Feb. 4, 1:00pm-3:00pm;
Limit 15 Registrants; $20

Mike Lee, EEL Volunteer,
Master Naturalist, and Shorebird Alliance Surveyor 

Meet at the
Barrier Island Sanctuary, 8385 S. Highway A1A Melbourne Beach, FL 32951

Observe and Identify
shorebirds from the Barrier Island Sanctuary overlook and along the adjacent
beach. Learn about the Shorebird Alliance and how you can become a citizen
scientist. Please bring personal needs including water, sunscreen/hat, bug
spray etc. 

 

Smyrna Dunes Park

Feb. 5 & 6; 8:00am-11:30am; Limit
20 Registrants; $35

Joan Tague (Halifax
River Audubon) & John Kendall (Indiana Bird Records Committee) with…

Meet at
Smyrna Dunes Park,
2995 N. Peninsula Ave., New Smyrna Beach. Entry Fee is
$10 per car. There are restrooms at the trailhead/picnic area.  

This
spectacular beachside park at Ponce Inlet offers panoramic views of the ocean,
inlet and estuary as well as the opportunity to get close looks at gulls,
terns and shorebirds. Take a leisurely two-mile walk via boardwalk over
pristine coastal dune habitat (watch for Gopher Tortoises) and along the
shoreline. Brown and White Pelicans, Black Skimmers, Common Loons, cormorants
and numerous species of gulls and terns are found here and there is always a
chance to discover a rare gull. Up to twenty species of shorebirds are
possible, including American Oystercatchers, Piping and Wilson’s Plovers,
Purple Sandpipers and Red Knots. Bait fish activity at the at the inlet’s mouth
attracts sea birds, especially Northern Gannets. Passerines are possible in the
hammocks.

 

South County River to the Sea Rundown


Feb. 4 & 6; 5:00am-4:00pm; Limit 24 Registrants; $120

David Simpson (Birding with David Simpson) with:

Feb. 4: George Thomas (Space Coast Audubon) and…

Feb 6: …

Meet in front of the Convention Center Building to board the bus. Includes box lunch. Restroom stops will be made along the way.

This trip features some of the best birding sites in southern Brevard and Indian River Counties as it meanders from the headwaters of the St. Johns River over to the coast. Join us for an early start at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park to see Red-cockaded Woodpeckers emerge from their roost cavities. While we are waiting, we should hear and hopefully see Bachman’s Sparrows singing. Brown-headed Nuthatches are so plentiful at this site that they are giving them away. Learn about RCWO and BHNU relocation efforts and other management projects while seeing these very special birds. After we get our fill of pinewoods inhabitants, we will cross over to the Fellsmere Grade Recreation Area (Stick Marsh Parking Lot) to see the nesting Roseate Spoonbills, Gray-headed Swamphens, Purpl

e Gallinules, and many more species. Snail Kites are possible here. On our way to the coast and historic Pelican Island NWR, we will make a stop to see the endemic Florida Scrub-Jay. The impoundments at Pelican Island NWR often host wintering waterfowl. Songbirds, including Painted Buntings, can be found along its dikes. The impoundments, Pelican Island, and the Indian River Lagoon can be scoped from an observation tower via a walk along the dikes. Finally, Sebastian Inlet State Park features a tidal pond, jetty and beach, which will round out our day nicely. Many shorebirds, gulls, terns, and sometimes Reddish Egrets are present and rarities such as Purple Sandpiper, Brown Booby, Magnificent Frigatebird and others are possible. Every year the North County River to the Sea trip tallies the most species of birds seen on a festival field trip. Will this new southern version of a river to the sea roundup take over that distinction? You can anticipate a moderate amount of walking on this trip.

 

South Pine Flatwoods Hike
at Pine Island Conservation Area

Feb. 5,
10am-12:00pm; Limit 20 Registrants; $20

Alex
Schilling

Meet at Sams House, 6195 North Tropical Trail Merritt Island, FL.

This adventure will commence at the Sams House at Pine Island Conservation Area and carpool up
to the Trailhead. The Pine Island South Pine Flatwoods Trail features several
opportunities to observe our raptors in action. This is an easy hike through
conservation lands that span over 880 acres of the Pine Island Conservation
Area bordering the saltmarsh and Indian River Lagoon. Walk through areas that
have been managed by the EEL Program using various techniques, including
prescribed burns. The flora of the area supports a myriad of wildlife,
including many migratory species that may be observed on this beautiful trail.
Learn about the origins of names of the Pine Island area as you enjoy this walk-through
a less traveled area. (Wear hats, closed toe shoes, bring water and sunscreen).

 

Sunset
Kayak at the Barge Canal Rookery

Feb. 3, 4, & 5: 4:00pm-6:30pm;
Limit 8 Registrants; $70

Meet …   

This exclusive small personal tour will provide you with one of the best bird
shows you will ever see. One of the Space Coast’s most significant colonial
water bird nesting islands, located just west of the Barge Canal, provides an
opportunity to observe a variety of birds from the water. Sunset is a magical
time when the sky ignites with dynamic colors and the rookery buzzes with
activity. Hundreds of birds roost on the island every night, including many
species of egrets, herons and ibis along with spoonbills, cormorants and
pelicans. Some of the birds will already be nesting.

Are the kayaks tandem or single seats?   We are still trying to locate the kayak tour provider that can provide the best experience for our guests and can launch from a location that is close to the rookery. Our goal is to be able to give our guests the opportunity to choose whether they want a single or a tandem boat. 

And are they included in the $70 cost of the trip? The kayaks are included in the cost of the trip.  The cost is $70 per person regardless of whether a single or a tandem boat is preferred.  

Are there alligators or manatees in the canal?  The likelihood of seeing manatees in the canal or out in the lagoon in February is very very slim.  At that time of the year the manatees are hovering around the warm water discharge at the power plant to survive the cold. The likelihood of seeing an alligator in the section of the canal in which this trip takes place is very low.  

Since the trip ends at 6:30 pm, won’t it be too dark to navigate?  The sun sets at 6:05 pm that week.  There will still be daylight as you return to the launch site.  If it’s extremely overcast and will get dark sooner, the guides will bring the group in earlier.

 

Tosohatchee
Wildlife Management Area

Feb. 2 & 4, 6:15am-11:30am; Limit 18 Registrants; $45

Lynn Proenza & Casey Dorsch (FL Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission)
with…

Christina Baal (Drawing 10,000 Birds) and Erin Lenhert

Meet at site, 3365 Taylor Creek Road, Christmas FL 32709. There
are composting toilets at the entrance but not out on the roads and trails.
This will be a car trip with stops along the way where attendees can get out
and walk for short distances. Entrance fee is $3 per car. 

The
Tosohatchee marshes are feeding areas for wading
birds and, during winter months, host large numbers of migrating waterfowl.
Forested uplands support deer, bobcats, gray foxes, wild turkeys, woodpeckers,
hawks, owls, and songbirds. Some of the threatened and endangered species found
at the reserve include Bald Eagle, Wood Stork, Eastern Indigo Snake, Gopher Tortoise,
and, on rare occasions, the Florida Panther. Birds of interest include
Bachman’s Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebird, Red-headed
Woodpecker, and Florida Sandhill Crane. Shaped by alternating cycles of fire
and flood, Tosohatchee WMA is a mosaic of marshes,
swamps, pine flatwoods and oak hammocks that borders 19 miles of the St Johns
River. Deep inside the reserve, Jim Creek flows through some of the last
remaining virgin cypress swamps in Florida.

Walk Around the Cruickshank Trail

Feb. 5, 8:30am-12:30pm; Limit 20
Registrants; $35

Charlie Venuto (Merritt Island
Wildlife Association) with Bert Alm (Space Coast
Audubon) &…

Meet at the north side of the Parrish Park Boat Ramp Parking Lot by the picnic pavilions. This will be a car tour of the Black Point Wildlife Drive and a walking tour of the Cruickshank Trail. Restroom facilities are available at the trailhead. The expected duration of the walk is 2 hours  

Through Allan Cruickshank’s vision, enthusiasm, determination and
influence, NASA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service reached an agreement in
1963 which created the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. To pay tribute
to this man’s unique contribution to the National Wildlife Refuge System, a
five-mile trail was dedicated to his memory. This easy 5-mile walk around the
Cruickshank Trail will take participants through marshlands with
the likelihood of observing wading birds, shore birds, wintering
warblers and birds of prey. Along the way, Charlie will entertain you with
stories of Allan and Helen Cruickshank’s influence on the environmental
movement. While driving to the trailhead, stops will be made along the Black
Point Wildlife Drive to look at concentrations of birds.