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SWFL Nature Fest Logo12th Annual Southwest Florida Nature Festival

January 15-17, 2016

Registration opens Dec. 1 (Nov. 24 for members) for field trips and lectures during the 12th Annual Southwest Florida Nature Festival! Explore the local environment through almost 40 guided field trips to 20 wildlife hot spots around Southwest Florida and lectures at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Field trips, including birding walks, buggy rides and boat tours, are offered in conjunction with partners such as Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Big Cypress National Preserve and Conservancy of Southwest Florida. 

Field Trip Details and registration.

Onsite activities are as follows:

Friday, Jan. 15: admission to the Environmental Learning Center is $5 Buy-One/Get-one FREE (includes daily programs at 11 am and 2 pm)
Saturday, Jan. 16: admission is $10 and includes entry to all 5 daytime lectures. Advanced registration is NOT required, must pay at door. Admission to the keynote presentation is $15, registration IS required.
Sunday, Jan. 17: Environmental Learning Center is closed

1:00 - 1:45: Sand, Mud, Birds, and People

ted-ginny-250Southwest Florida really has its share of beaches and coastline. This coastal habitat attracts birds, and especially the ones that spend the winter and have done so for hundreds of years. Below has been studying the birds on our shores for forty years, and in his presentation will recount a number of changes he has witnessed while traversing this wonderful and unique treasure.

Ted-Below-HSTed Below is well-known for his work with Audubon and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. He started on on the reserve staff as Avian Ecologist in 2003 and has continued his endeavors as a volunteer since 2009. He has maintained long-term studies of coastal waterbirds along 60 miles of coast, from Naples to Chokoloskee Pass, for forty years.



2:00 - 2:45: Birding, How Much Fun Could it Be?

T.-Dunkerton-headshot-250This program addresses some humorous stereotypes as well as ideas of how to better enjoy birdwatching. As an expert in optics and experienced bird photographer, Dunkerton hears it all, and will be answering questions such as "Why do I bird?", "Why should everyone bird?", and "Why isn't it called bird-watching anymore?"

Tom Dunkerton is a Pro Staffer for Opticron North America, a sport and nature optics company. He promotes binoculars and spotting scopes throughout the U.S. at various birding events in addition to being a part-time photography instructor and birding guide for Wildside Nature Tours.

3:00 - 3:45: Banded Birds Tell Good Stories

adamredknot-250Every individual bird has an amazing story to tell. Researchers band birds to help them translate those stories into a language they can understand. Banded shorebirds have shed light on migration patterns, habitat use, and survivability. Southwest Florida is a critical area for many of these banded birds and each, indeed, has an amazing story to tell.

adamrain-165Before arriving in FL in April, Adam DiNuovo was the Research Coordinator for the California Least Tern & Western Snowy Plover Program for the Institute for Conservation Research at the San Diego Zoo. He also helped coordinate research for National Audubon's Project Puffin and has worked on many other seabird & shorebird projects all over the country.



books by the WitheringtonsLecture Title: Florida's Living Beaches

Time: Saturday, January 16, 2016 from 5:30 pm - 7 pm*

*This is the Keynote Presentation and there will be an admission fee of $15

Given By: Blair and Dawn Witherington

Lecture Description:  Our beaches are alive! That's the premise proposed by Blair and Dawn Witherington in their presentation appropriately entitled, "Our Living Beaches." Our wave-swept coastline offers more than a sandy stroll amidst stunning scenery. As ever-changing ribbons of sand, these beaches foster unique life forms and accept beguiling castaways from a vast marine wilderness. Mysteries abound. What is this odd creature? Why does the beach look this way? How did this strange item get here? Blair and Dawn have sought to satisfy beachcombers' curiosity within four books on southeastern US beaches covering beach processes, plants, animals, minerals, and manmade objects. In their presentation Blair and Dawn suggest a series of "quests" highlighting a beachcombing journey among our southwest Florida beaches and showing how each visit to a beach is unique—no two are exactly alike, and at any given beach, every day brings something different.

Brief Biography: Blair and Dawn Witherington have authored books on sea turtles, Florida beaches, beaches of the southeastern US, and seashells, and have worked together on a variety of natural history publications. Blair is a senior Sea Turtle Biologist with the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, University of Florida. He has a master's degree in biology and a doctorate in zoology. Dawn is a graphic designer and illustrator specializing in scientific and educational depictions of nature.



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