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kayak and boat tours

An amazing array of field trips is available to participants of the Southwest Florida Nature Festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, January 12, 13, and 14, 2018. Please review ALL information below before accessing the registration page, as field trip details may not be repeated on the registration page. Complete details for each trip are provided below.

Festival of Birds admission and lecture information

Online registration opens Dec. 1 (Friends of Rookery Bay members may register by logging into the website starting Nov. 25). Please find registration instructions in the lefthand sidebar at the top of this page.

Registration is required to participate in field trips.

Each field trip also has an additional fee which varies depending on location. Space on field trips is limited to ensure a quality experience for all participants, so sign up early! The maximum number of participants has been noted for each field trip to aid in selection. When the maximum number of participants for a field trip is reached, registration for that field trip will close. Registration instructions are provided in the lefthand sidebar at the top of this page.

Field Trip Designations:

Field Trip Designations have been assigned to each trip based on its specialized focus so that participants will know what to expect. The designations are:

  • Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).
  • Wildlife – field trip will focus on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited.
  • Specialty – This field trip will focus on a specialized activity, incorporating education on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited.

Shown below is a sampling of the field trips that will be offered during the event. Click on the event title to see the detail. More trips are in the process of being added and some details advertised below may change before registration opens. Upon registration, participants will receive an e-mail confirmation with link to additional details and specific instructions as to when and where to meet for their selected trip(s). 

FRIDAY Field Trips (Jan. 12, 2018)

10,000 Islands NWR - Bird Hike

We will spend the morning on a leisurely walk along Marsh Trail (2.2 miles round-trip) which is the only trail access into the Ten Thousand Islands NWR. Participants will be able to observe and photograph wildlife from a two-story observation tower, of which the first floor is handicap accessible.  The first 1/4 mile of Marsh Trail is paved, while the remainder is unpaved.

Wading birds such as great egret, snowy egret, black-crowned night-heron and white ibis should be plentiful and there is a good chance we will see wood storks and roseate spoonbills. We will also search for land birds wintering in the tropical hardwoods along the road. More than 40 species of birds have been seen from the observation tower and the Marsh Trail. (This is the same field trip that has been offered in past years as “Oil Pad Road”).

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 8:00 am - 11:30 am
Trip Leaders:
Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge staff.
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 20
Additional information: There are no facilities on the refuge (the nearest being at Port of the Islands or Collier-Seminole State Park). This trip entails considerable walking – approximately 2 miles round-trip.

Big Cypress NP - Plant Walk

Join a Big Cypress National Preserve Park Ranger for a walk through cypress domes, pinelands and prairies to discover biological components of these unique plant communities.  Learn to recognize differences in these communities, which occur with variations in climate, fires, flooding or human disturbance.

Focus: Specialty/Botany – This field trip will focus on the plants, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Trip Leaders:
 Big Cypress National Preserve Park Rangers and Lisa Andrews, Outreach/Education
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 15
Additional Information: Be prepared for wet feet wading through knee deep water on parts of this trail.

Conservancy - RB Sunset Roost Cruise

Cast off for some great birding and cruise Rookery Bay on the Conservancy’s Good Fortune pontoon boat. Join us for a beautiful sunset cruise in search of nesting Bald Eagle and Osprey, terns, gulls, shorebirds and waders. Dusk brings thousands of Fish Crows, Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, herons, ibis and other wading birds in to roost on a few mangrove islands in Rookery Bay. This is a true southwest Florida treat and a very popular outing.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm 
Field Trip Cost:
 $50 
Trip Leader:
Conservancy of Southwest Florida Naturalist
Minimum and Maximum Group Size: 15 minimum, 45 maximum



Corkscrew - Swamp Buggy (AM)

Board a swamp buggy to explore the “off-limits” back country of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s north end. We will traverse several habitat types and will be on the lookout for the many birds of the back country, including hawks, warblers, ducks, sandhill cranes, wading birds, and more! We will also keep a lookout for other wildlife and learn about the management of this 13,000 acre sanctuary.

Focus: Wildlife – This field trip will focus on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 8:00 am - 11:00 am
Trip Leaders:
Corkscrew Naturalist
Field Trip Cost: $120
Maximum Group Size: 9
Additional information: Participants must be physically able to climb on and off of the swamp buggy using a ladder. Be prepared – the trip is bumpy. There are bathrooms and vending machines at the Blair Audubon Visitor Center. All participants must sign a release form before going on this off-boardwalk trip.

 buggy-250What is a Swamp Buggy?

A swamp buggy is a 4- or 6-wheeled vehicle that is built to travel through wet, muddy or rough terrain at slow speeds. Individuals must be able to climb a ladder to access the seating area. Space on these trips is extremely limited – register early to ensure a seat on this Florida specialty conveyance.

Corkscrew - Swamp Buggy (PM)

Board a swamp buggy to explore the “off-limits” back country of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s north end. We will traverse several habitat types and will be on the lookout for the many birds of the back country, including hawks, warblers, ducks, sandhill cranes, wading birds, and more! We will also keep a lookout for other wildlife and learn about the management of this 13,000 acre sanctuary.

Focus: Wildlife – This field trip will focus on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Trip Leaders:
Corkscrew Naturalist
Field Trip Cost: $120
Maximum Group Size: 9
Limitations: Participants must be physically able to climb on and off of the swamp buggy using a ladder. Be prepared – the trip is bumpy.
Additional Information: There are bathrooms and vending machines at the Blair Audubon Visitor Center. All participants must sign a release form before going on this off-boardwalk trip.

buggy-250What is a Swamp Buggy?

A swamp buggy is a 4- or 6-wheeled vehicle that is built to travel through wet, muddy or rough terrain at slow speeds. Individuals must be able to climb a ladder to access the seating area. Space on these trips is extremely limited – register early to ensure a seat on this Florida specialty conveyance.

Eagle Lakes - Beginner Birding

Just starting out as a birder? Not sure what that big white bird in your backyard is? Then join us for an easy walk at a great birding spot. This trip provides an introduction to birding and tips on how to identify the most common birds in the area.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 8:00 am - 11:00 am
Trip Leader:
Steve Mutart, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Docent
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 15
Additional Information: There are bathroom and water facilities at Eagle Lakes Park. Wheelchair accessible.

Fakahatchee - Swamp Tromp

Explore a unique swamp forest with Park Biologist Mike Owen. The interior of the Fakahatchee Strand supports a rich growth of tropical plants. Many birds and animals inhabit the swamp; Red-shouldered Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl, Common Ground Dove, Great Egret, White Ibis, Limpkin, Florida black bear, River otter, Everglades mink and the endangered Florida Panther. Since there is no path, participants wade through cypress forest and popash-pondapple sloughs in water from 1 to 3 feet deep!

Focus: Wildlife – This field trip will focus on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Trip Leader:
Mike Owen, Biologist, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve State Park
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 15
Additional info: Port-o-let is available at Park Visitor Center. Prepare to get wet. Long pants and secure footwear (lace-up boots or sneakers) are necessary.

FL Panther NWR - Sunset Buggy

This late afternoon swamp buggy tour of the Refuge will take you through hardwood hammock, pine forest and parts of the northern extension of the Fakahatchee Strand cypress slough during sundown – a perfect time for wildlife viewing and photography. You will learn about Florida panthers and current efforts to restore the Florida Everglades’ critical ecosystem to its former pristine glory while traveling on the paths of Florida panther, black bear, deer, turkey and other wildlife that make their home on the Refuge. It is not unusual to see some of the 125+ species of birds and more than 25 species of mammals that share these lands. Be sure to bring your camera and/or binoculars.

Focus: Wildlife – This field trip will focus on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Trip Leader:
Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge
Field Trip Cost: $120
Maximum Group Size: 12
Additional Information: Participants need to be able to climb up into the 4 to 5 foot high buggies (like climbing a ladder with the rungs far apart). There is no other way to get into these vehicles.

buggy-250What is a Swamp Buggy?

A swamp buggy is a 4- or 6-wheeled vehicle that is built to travel through wet, muddy or rough terrain at slow speeds. Individuals must be able to climb a ladder to access the seating area. Space on these trips is extremely limited – register early to ensure a seat on this Florida specialty conveyance.

Marco Island - Burrowing Owl

Join University of Florida graduate student Alli Smith on a one-mile walk around Mackle Park to look for some of the 350 burrowing owls that live on Marco Island. Learn about the threats to their survival, and about current banding, research, and monitoring efforts by local citizen scientists with Audubon of the Western Everglades’ Owl Watch program. Bring a camera – these little birds have lots of personality! Other possible sightings include shorebirds, wading birds, and waterfowl.

Focus: Urban burrowing owls of Marco Island

Time: 4:15-5:45 pm
Trip Leaders:
 Alli Smith, M.S. Student, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida - IFAS 
Field trip cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 6
Additional Information: Easy walking on flat, paved surfaces. Expected to be a 1 – 1.5 mile walk.

Naples Garden - Birding Tour

Approximately 180 species of birds have been identified at Naples Botanical Garden, making it one of Collier County’s top birding hotspots. Join Lewis Barrett, Native Plant Specialist, for a leisurely morning walk through both the designed and natural areas of the Garden – in search of wading birds, woodpeckers, and warblers!

Focus:  Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds.

Time: 7:30 am - 9:30 am
Trip Leader:
 This trip will be led by Lewis Barrett, Native Plant Specialist of the Naples Botanical Garden.
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 12
Additional information: There are bathroom and water facilities available at the Naples Botanical Garden. Handicap access to the trail is limited due to the sandy nature of the trail. This tour is a walking tour covering approximately 1 mile over paved and unpaved, sandy, or uneven terrain.

Naples Garden - Upland Scrub

Join us for this opportunity to explore one of Florida’s rare and beautiful habitats at Naples Botanical Garden near downtown Naples. Come hike and learn about the diverse plants and animals that make up the scrub habitat and about the fascinating geologic history that shaped the southwest FL coast.  This tour will also teach about the gopher tortoise, which is often seen in this part of the Garden and calls the scrub home.

Focus: Botany– This field trip will focus on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 7:30 am - 9:00 am
Trip Leaders:
 This trip will be led by Eric Foht, Natural Areas Manager of the Naples Botanical Garden
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 10
Additional information: There are bathroom and water facilities available at the Naples Botanical Garden.

RB Beach Bird Boat Tour

Treasure-Island-Tour

An opportunity to explore Keewaydin Island, living barrier island with an incredible diversity of life and some of the best shelling in Florida. Stroll the beach with your guide and learn about: specially adapted native plants, gastropods, crustaceans, corals, sea squirts, snails, sponges, fishes, birds, and more. Also included is a leisurely cruise through the Rookery Bay mangrove estuary, one of the richest and most productive ecosystems on the planet.

Focus: Botanical with an emphasis on exploring natural bird habitat.

Time: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Trip Leader: Randy McCormick, your captain and guide, has worked at the Reserve for many years and knows the area intimately. He is a Certified Interpretive Guide, an instructor in the Florida Master Naturalist program and a fifth generation Floridian. 
Field Trip Cost: $120
Maximum Group Size: 6
Additional Information: There is a portable toilet  at launch site

Rookery Bay - Bird Kayak

Paddle along pristine mangrove creeks and bays to meet some amazing estuarine inhabitants. Watch ospreys dive for their meals, mangrove tree crabs scurry about, or maybe even catch a glimpse of some wild dolphins.  We’ll slowly paddle into Rookery Bay to visit the islands that give the Reserve its name.  Kayaks, paddles, and life vests provided. Basic paddling/canoeing experience required.

Focus: Specialty/Kayaking – This field trip will focus on the activity, incorporating education on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 9:30 am - 11:30 pm
Trip Leaders:
Randy McCormick, Rookery Bay Eco-Tour leader
Field Trip Cost: $80
Maximum Group Size: 10
Additional Information: There is a portable toilet at the launch site. Kayak participants must be at least 12 years of age and under 250 lbs.

Rookery Bay - Step Into History

Enjoy a tour through time with one of Rookery Bay Reserve’s certified interpreters. Traverse Calusa Indian shell mounds and amble through historic pioneer homesteads while learning how these early settlers survived in Florida by living off the land and sea.

Focus: Specialty/Cultural – This field trip will focus on human involvement in the area visited, incorporating education on the wildlife, habitat and ecology, and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 9 am to 11 am
Field Trip Cost: $20 
Maximum Group Size: 15
Trip Leader: Ray Carroll
Additional Information: The Rookery Bay Field Station is located at the far end of Shell Island Road. The maximum speed is 25 MPH – please drive slowly, watch for wildlife and allow extra driving time. There are NO restroom facilities

Tigertail Beach - Shorebird Walk

Do you wonder why shorebirds chase waves? Would you like to learn what shorebird species you see when you take a trip to the beach? If so, this is the program for you! Come and join us at Tigertail Beach on Marco Island. As a site on the Great Florida Birding Trail, it provides habitat for a wide variety of shorebirds. Black skimmers, Wilson’s plovers, and Piping plovers are just a few of the birds you can see there. Observe shorebird behavior and learn about the importance of beach habitat to the birds.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Trip Leaders: 
Anne Mauro, Avian Ecologist at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 10
Additional Information: There is a bathroom and a foot wash station at the parking lot.

SATURDAY Field Trips (Jan. 13, 2018)

Big Cypress - RC Woodpecker

Field Trip Description: Join Big Cypress National Preserve Park Ranger Wesley Millar, FWC Lead Area Biologist—Big Cypress WMA, Ross Scott, and FWC RCW Biologist—Big Cypress, Hana Nardi for a visit to Raccoon Point. This wild and diverse area of preserve, not open to the general public, is home to a variety of wildlife including several groups of the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. Learn how FWC and NPS staff work together to monitor this species and protect its habitat through prescribed fire. You may not only get a glimpse of the red-cockaded woodpecker and other old-growth pineland birds, but may also see tracks of Florida panthers and bears.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time:
12:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Trip Leaders: Lisa Andrews, NPS and Jessica Spickler, FWC
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 10

Big Cypress NP Birding Trip

From wading birds to migratory songbirds, Big Cypress National Preserve offers fantastic birding opportunities along with other wildlife viewing. Join Park Ranger Lisa Andrews to learn the easy-to-get-to spots in the preserve that can be enjoyed by amateur and expert birders. This includes a visit to our new ½ mile Kirby Storter Boardwalk for an easy walk into a cypress strand, viewing with scopes at HP Williams roadside park and a car caravan along Turner River Road through cypress, pinelands and prairies. Turner River Rd is a gravel Road that may be a bit rough and dusty.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 7:00 am (at Rookery Bay NERR) - 1:00 pm (at Big Cypress HQ)
Trip Leaders: Lisa Andrews, Outreach/Education Specialist, Big Cypress National Preserve
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 20
Additional information: There are bathroom facilities at the boardwalk. Bring your own drinking water. The boardwalk is wheel chair accessible.

Conservancy - Rookery Sunset Roost Cruise

Cast off for some great birding and cruise Rookery Bay on the Conservancy’s Good Fortune pontoon boat. Join us for a beautiful sunset cruise in search of nesting Bald Eagle and Osprey, terns, gulls, shorebirds and waders. Dusk brings thousands of Fish Crows, Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, herons, ibis and other wading birds in to roost on a few mangrove islands in Rookery Bay. This is a true southwest Florida treat and a very popular outing.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Trip Leader: Conservancy of Southwest Florida Naturalist
Field Trip Cost: $50
Time:
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Trip Group Size:
  Minimum: 15 participants / Maximum: 40 participants

Corkscrew - Morning Bird Walk

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is an Audubon Important Bird Area, part of the Atlantic Flyway for bird migration, is one of the gateway sites for the Great Florida Birding Trail, and is a Ramsar designated Wetland of International Importance.  Experience the sights and sounds of the awakening swamp with one of our naturalists guiding you on the boardwalk to look for birds. Learn about the birds' life habits and the importance to these birds of the upland and freshwater wetland habitats that occur at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. 

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on birds, other wildlife, and the habitat and ecology of the area visited.

Time: 8:00 am - 11:00 am
Trip Leaders: Corkscrew Naturalist.
Field Trip Cost: $25
Maximum Group Size: 16
Additional Information: This walk is on the Corkscrew Boardwalk, Participants will be walking 2.25 miles. There are bathrooms and food available at the Blair Audubon Visitor Center.

 

Corkscrew - Swamp Buggy (AM)

Board a swamp buggy to explore the “off-limits” back country of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s north end. We will traverse several habitat types and will be on the lookout for the many birds of the back country, including hawks, warblers, ducks, sandhill cranes, wading birds, and more! We will also keep a lookout for other wildlife and learn about the management of this 13,000 acre sanctuary.

Focus: Wildlife – This field trip will focus on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 8:00 am - 11:00 am
Trip Leaders:
Corkscrew Naturalist
Field Trip Cost: $120
Maximum Group Size: 9
Additional information: Participants must be physically able to climb on and off of the swamp buggy using a ladder. Be prepared – the trip is bumpy. There are bathrooms and vending machines at the Blair Audubon Visitor Center. All participants must sign a release form before going on this off-boardwalk trip.

 buggy-250What is a Swamp Buggy?

A swamp buggy is a 4- or 6-wheeled vehicle that is built to travel through wet, muddy or rough terrain at slow speeds. Individuals must be able to climb a ladder to access the seating area. Space on these trips is extremely limited – register early to ensure a seat on this Florida specialty conveyance.

Eagle Lakes - Beginners Birding

Just starting out as a birder? Not sure what that big white bird in your backyard is? Then join us for an easy walk at a great birding spot. This trip provides an introduction to birding and tips on how to identify the most common birds in the area.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 8:00 am - 11:00 am
Trip Leader:
Steve Mutart, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Docent
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 15
Additional Information: There are bathroom and water facilities at Eagle Lakes Park. Wheelchair accessible.

Harns Marsh - Birding Walk

We will spend the first hour walking along an elevated berm around a portion of Harns Marsh Preserve, which is a part of the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District (Lee). Snail Kites and Limpkin are the big draw here, but other fresh water birds often secretive and difficult to see can also be present here, like American and Least Bittern, Purple Gallinule, and King Rail. The second hour will involve checking a couple locations in Lehigh proper for Red-headed Woodpecker and Florida Scrub-Jay, with the remaining time venturing to Hendry County’s Church Road area for Crested Caracara and wintering Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 7:00 am - 11:00 am
Trip Leader:
Charlie Ewell, Lee County Bird Patrol member
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 20
Additional Information: There are no facilities, so any restroom stops should be made before arriving at the preserve. Please do not leave valuables visible in your vehicle, as the parking area is in the open but does not have supervision.

 

SUNDAY Field Trips (Jan. 14, 2018)

Big Cypress - Bike Ride

Join Big Cypress Rangers for a bike ride through diverse habitats used as the home range by the elusive Florida Panther and a variety of other wildlife. Along your leisurely 14 mile ride stop at several stations to look for signs of panther, learn about their habitat, find out what Big Cypress biologists do to study the big cat and other interesting facts about Florida Panthers. *There are no restrooms at the trailhead, but we’ll stop about 2 miles into the ride if necessary.

Focus: Specialty/Bicycling – This field trip will focus on the activity, incorporating education on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 8:30 am - 2:00 pm
Trip Leader: Big Cypress National Preserve Park Ranger
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 15
Additional Information: Fat tire bikes only – hybrids or mountain bikes

Bunche Beach - Birding Walk

We will spend the morning walking along Bunche Beach, the mainland side of San Carlos Bay, which is a part of the Lee County Conservation 20/20 program. Shorebirds are the big draw here, but wintering gulls, terns, and wading birds should also be in abundance. Shorebirds likely to be seen include Western and Least Sandpipers, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Willet, and up to 4 species of plover including Black-bellied, Wilson’s, Semipalmated, and Piping. Additional shorebird possibilities include Red Knot, Spotted Sandpiper, and Marbled Godwit. Roosting flocks of Black Skimmers may also be present.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one). 

Time: 8:00 am - 11:00 am
Trip Leader: Charlie Ewell, Lee County Bird Patrol member
Field Trip Cost: $20 + $2 parking
Maximum Group Size: 20
Additional InformationThe only facilities are restrooms that are available on the top floor of the visitor’s center that is located on the right after the small bridge as you approach the beach.  You can park in that lot, or any spaces available along John Morris Rd.  There is a $2 charge for parking by machine. 

Eagle Lakes - Beginners Birding

Just starting out as a birder? Not sure what that big white bird in your backyard is? Then join us for an easy walk at a great birding spot. This trip provides an introduction to birding and tips on how to identify the most common birds in the area.

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 8:00 am - 11:00 am
Trip Leaders:
 Steve Mutart, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Docent
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 15
Additional Information: There are bathroom and water facilities at Eagle Lakes Park. Wheelchair accessible.

FL Panther NWR - Birding Hike

We will be hiking along a 1.3 mile long trail that meanders through several natural community types including hardwood hammock, pine flatwood, wet prairie, and mixed pine hardwood forest. Bird species expected to be seen include a wide range of resident and wintering landbirds including up to five species of woodpeckers, warblers, and with just a little late season water, egrets, White Ibis, and Wood Storks. There is also a good chance to see other wildlife including whitetail deer, raccoons, armadillos, and perhaps a Florida panther track!

Focus: Birding – This field trip will focus on the identification and biology of birds. Please bring binoculars and a bird field guide (if you have one).

Time: 7:45 am - 11:30 am
Trip Leaders:
Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge staff
Field Trip Cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 20
Additional Information: There is a port-a-john at the trailhead.

FL Panther NWR - Buggy (PM)

This late afternoon swamp buggy tour of the Refuge will take you through hardwood hammock, pine forest and parts of the northern extension of the Fakahatchee Strand cypress slough during sundown – a perfect time for wildlife viewing and photography. You will learn about Florida panthers and current efforts to restore the Florida Everglades’ critical ecosystem to its former pristine glory while traveling on the paths of Florida panther, black bear, deer, turkey and other wildlife that make their home on the Refuge. It is not unusual to see some of the 125+ species of birds and more than 25 species of mammals that share these lands. Be sure to bring your camera and/or binoculars.

Focus: Wildlife – This field trip will focus on the wildlife, habitat and ecology of the area visited and is NOT primarily a birding field trip.

Time: 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Trip Leaders:
Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge
Field Trip Cost: $120
Maximum Group Size: 12
Additional information: Participants need to be able to climb up into the 4 to 5 foot high buggies (like climbing a ladder with the rungs far apart). There is no other way to get into these vehicles.

buggy-250What is a Swamp Buggy?

A swamp buggy is a 4- or 6-wheeled vehicle that is built to travel through wet, muddy or rough terrain at slow speeds. Individuals must be able to climb a ladder to access the seating area. Space on these trips is extremely limited – register early to ensure a seat on this Florida specialty conveyance.

Marco Island - Burrowing Owl

Join University of Florida graduate student Alli Smith on a one-mile walk around Mackle Park to look for some of the 350 burrowing owls that live on Marco Island. Learn about the threats to their survival, and about current banding, research, and monitoring efforts by local citizen scientists with Audubon of the Western Everglades’ Owl Watch program. Bring a camera – these little birds have lots of personality! Other possible sightings include shorebirds, wading birds, and waterfowl.

Focus: Urban burrowing owls of Marco Island

Time: 7:30 am - 9:00 am
Trip Leaders:
 Alli Smith, M.S. Student, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida - IFAS 
Field trip cost: $20
Maximum Group Size: 6
Additional Information: Easy walking on flat, paved surfaces. Expected to be a 1 – 1.5 mile walk.

Festival Registration

Registration is required to participate in field trips. Please follow these steps:

1. Review ALL trip details on this page

2. Click "register" button (below) to see list of field trips

3. Click the green "register" button next to your desired trip

4. Note: you will be prompted to enter your personal information for each trip you choose

5. Click "checkout" to enter payment information

6. Registration closes the day before the field trip takes place. E.g. Registration for Friday trips closes on Thursday, etc..

Please Note: The registration system will prevent you from registering for a trip if your registration exceeds the number available of spaces

REGISTER

Hotels Nearby

The accommodations suggestions below are listed in order of proximity:

Greenlinks Golf Villas

Fairfield Inn and Suites

Springhill Suites

Bayfront Inn on Fifth

Olde Marco Island Inn

 

 

Lodging Partners

Lemon Tree Inn
250 9th Street South
239-262-1414
Complimentary continental breakfast
Government rate
2 queen beds $119
1 King $129

Best Western Inn & Suites
2329 9th Street N
239-261-1148
Complimentary continental breakfast
No airport shuttle- free shuttle to beach only
Government Rate
Standard double $116.99
2 queen beds or 1 king $152.99

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