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FIELD TRIPS



SPECIAL NOTEs: We’re sorry, but the bird banding field trip to Dunedin Hammock on Sunday, October 15 has been cancelled due to damage from Hurricane Irma to the park. The city of Dunedin has determined that the park is not safe to be used, and there is no likelihood that it will reopen in time for the festival.

The sold-out birding field trip to Circle B Bar Reserve has been redirected to Lake Gwyn. There was hope, but the Reserve is still flooded and won't reopen in time.

Your goal:  Have FUN!

Our goal:  Make sure you see LOTS of birds, butterflies, and other critters, and learn more about our fabulous preservation and conservation lands and their awesome inhabitants! The Festival Committee has organized an excellent array of field trips lead by expert field guides. Trips include birding on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings; butterfly and dragonfly identification and behavior Friday and Saturday afternoons; and an afternoon search for diamondback terrapins goes to the bay on Saturday.

Most field trips are easy walks and some are on wagons or boats. Field trip descriptions indicate if there is any hill climbing or sandy walking involved, so please make sure to read the full description to be prepared for your excursion.

As for the weather, also be prepared. In the fall, Florida weather can be unpredictable. Even though we can cross our fingers that the first cold front comes through early, you should plan for HOT and SUNNY conditions. Water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a wide brimmed hat are a must on all excursions. Comfortable shoes/boots, long sleeve shirts, and long pants of a light weight material are recommended; as are binoculars, scopes, cameras and snacks. October is still the rainy season, so rain gear may be needed, or a change of clothes if you get caught in a shower.

NOTE:  Birds see color, and it is generally a good idea to avoid bright colors or white and to dress in neutral tones especially if you are on a trip focused on warblers and other songbirds.

For those who wish to carpool, please note the time for each field trip that carpools will depart from the HCC campus. And find travel directions and times for the trips under MAPS. (Please note that participants are responsible for being at the starting location at the designated time whether they carpool or drive separately.)


FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2017

SOLD OUT!
T-F-1  Outback Key, Shell Key, Fort DeSoto County Park from the water with Tampa Bay Watch, Pinellas County

8:00 - 11:15 am (carpool leaves 7:00 am)
Limited to 25 participants
Fee:  $65.00, plus tolls $2.10
Leaders:  Eric Plage and Bo Fethe

Departure from Tampa Bay Watch Headquarters will take you offshore to learn basic identification tips for the birds we see when we visit Florida’s spectacular beaches. You see them all the time - running in the surf, perched on pilings and soaring over the water. If you think they are nondescript grayish variations on the same theme, you are only partially correct. Have fun learning identification and natural history of the common but often difficult-to-identify birds found on Florida's beaches. What's the difference between a tern and a gull, or a sandpiper and a plover? Where does the willet fit in? Explore their variations and sort through some of the subtleties of their shapes and behaviors in this look at our fascinating birds of the beach.   MAP

Tampa Bay Watch Website Shell Key Preserve


T-F-2  Celery Fields, Sarasota County
8:00 – 11:00 am (carpool leaves 7:15 am)
Limited to 40 participants
Fee:  $45.00
Leaders:  Jeanne Dubi and Simon Thompson

This 400-acre storm water retention area in eastern Sarasota County is one of the Gulf Coast’s best birding hot spots. The site has been restored to a meandering stream with wetlands and grasslands nestled among the curves. A hill with walking and equestrian trails overlooks the area, and two boardwalks allow access to the stream and marsh. With 220 species recorded at the site, the swamp and open water environment is a haven for limpkins, bitterns, rails and herons. Sarasota Audubon provides volunteer Bird Naturalists at each of the two boardwalks to help visitors identify birds and plants. The nature center with native plant gardens is also available for visitors to enjoy.   MAP

Celery Fields Website


T-F-3  Perico Preserve, Manatee County
8:30 – 11:00 am (carpool leaves 7:30 am)
Limited to 20 participants
Fee:  $45.00
Leaders:  Damon Moore, and Cathy Davis, and Mary Keith

The 176-acre Perico Preserve property is located in western Manatee County. With support from project partners including the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, and Tampa Bay Estuary Program, 56 acres of the site that was formerly abandoned farmland with many exotic plants such as Brazilian pepper and Australian pine was restored. The site underwent major ecological enhancements including the restoration and creation of wetland and upland habitats, as well as the re-establishment of beneficial native plants. Beneficial habitat for wading bird populations was one of the restoration goals of this project. Colony of gopher tortoises too!   MAP

Perico Preserve Website


T-F-4  Fort DeSoto County Park, Extreme Birding, Pinellas County
7:45 am – 1:00 pm (carpool leaves 7:00 am)
Limited to 25 participants
Fee:  $45.00, plus toll $2.00 and park fee $5.00 per car
Leaders:  Dave Goodwin and Jim Eager

Fort DeSoto County Park is a premier birding destination in Florida. More than 250 species of birds have been recorded in the park over the years. Fall migration brings neo-tropical migratory species to the park as well as occasional wanderers from the Caribbean and the western United States. The island’s shorebird diversity is one of the best on the Florida west coast. This trip is intended for advanced birders and will be offered all three days.   MAP

Fort DeSoto Park Website


SOLD OUT and MOVED TO A NEW LOCATION
T-F-5  Circle B Bar Reserve, Polk County

Limited to 20 participants
Leader:  Doug DeNeve

Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Circle B Bar Preserve was once lakeside marsh drained for cattle pasture. Now jointly owned and managed by Polk County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), the restored marshes are home to limpkins, purple and common gallinules, bitterns and an amazing variety of wintering, migrating and resident birds from bald eagles to sparrows.

Circle B Bar Reserve Website


T-F-6  Lettuce Lake Regional Park Photography Workshop
2:00 – 4:30 pm (carpool leaves 1:00 pm)
Limited to 20 participants
Fee:  $45.00 (includes morning seminars), plus park entrance fee $2.00
Leaders:  Joel Jackson, Roger Sheets, and Joe Bailey

Lettuce Lake, which opened in 1982, consists of 240-acres, an interpretive center, a 3,500-foot boardwalk and an observation tower where visitors can view an extensive variety of wildlife. We expect to see a variety of water birds and upland birds, including herons, egrets, limpkins, ospreys, woodpeckers, vireos, warblers, red-shouldered hawks, barred owls, and more. This trip is specially designed for photographers to practice tips from the morning seminars on photography pointers.
REGISTER FOR THIS TRIP IF YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY SEMINARS AND CRITIQUE SESSIONS!   MAP

Lettuce Lake Regional Park Website


T-F-7  Sweet Bay Nursery, Display Gardens and Trails
2:00 – 4:00 pm (carpool leaves 1:00 pm)
Limited to 40 participants
Fee:  $45.00, no entrance fees
Leader:  Tom Heitzman

Nursery tour and optional hike through a pine flatwoods. Native shrubs and perennials for use in the home landscape with an emphasis on plants that attract a variety of pollinators, butterflies and birds, where to plant them, how to keep them growing and happy.
  MAP

Sweet Bay Nursery Website


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2017

T-S-1  Alafia Banks Bird Sanctuary Boat Trip
9:00 – 11:00 am (carpool leaves 8:00 am)
Limited to 50 participants
Fee:  $65.00, plus Aquarium parking $6.00
Leaders:  Mark Rachal, Adam Kent, and Gina Kent

Join us aboard the Florida Aquarium’s Bay Spirit II for a 2 ½ hour tour out to the Richard T. Paul Alafia Banks Bird Sanctuary, an Audubon sanctuary considered to be one of the most important nesting colonies in the state of Florida. Each year up to 18,000 pairs of birds representing up to 20 different species nest on this island, including a third of the state’s population of roseate spoonbills and a very large white Ibis nesting colony. Although October is not nesting season, we expect to see pelicans, herons, shorebirds, and duck species. On the ride out to the island, you will also have the chance to see Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.   MAP

Alafia Banks Website


T-S-2  Lower Green Swamp County Preserve, Wagon Tour, Hillsborough County
8:00 - 11:00 am (carpool leaves 7:00 am)
Limited to 19 participants
Fee:  $45.00
Leaders:  Andy Fairbanks, Stephen Raymond, and Dr. Jerry Jackson

Lower Green Swamp Preserve, formerly the Cone Ranch, is an area of protected lands in northeastern Hillsborough County, and the largest parcel currently in the ELAPP Program. This trip will look at the Preserve from the back of a trailer. The preserve includes pine uplands and open grasslands, and a crossing over lovely small stream. Possible sightings include red headed woodpeckers to the elusive Bachman’s sparrow, with wild turkeys and quail down low and raptors on high. Participants will ride on a tour wagon.   MAP

Lower Green Swamp Website


T-S-3  Honeymoon Island State Park, Pinellas County
8:30 - 11:30 am (carpool leaves 7:00 am)
Limited to 40 participants
Fee:  $45.00, plus park fee $8 per vehicle up to 8 persons, $4 single occupant vehicle
Leaders:  Dan Larremore, Charlie Fisher, and John Hood

Honeymoon Island State Park is a dynamic barrier island. Its beaches and the causeway approach to the park are known hotspots for shorebirds, from the little peeps to reddish egrets doing their ‘drunken sailor’ dance. Merlins patrol the edges looking for unwary dinner items. On the island the Osprey Trail, through a rare virgin slash pine forest, lives up to its name, with dozens of ospreys, plus the resident great horned owl family and migrant passerines. Mangroves, lagoons and tidal flats provide diverse habitat. You will meet the leaders before the causeway and have a look at who’s dining on the beach before heading into the park and walking several places along the edge, the woods of Osprey Trail as well as checking the grasslands for sparrows.   MAP

Honeymoon sland State Park Website


T-S-4  Fort DeSoto County Park, Extreme Birding, Pinellas County
7:45 am – 1:00 pm (carpool leaves 7:00 am)
Limited to 25 participants
Fee:  $45.00, plus toll $2.00 and park fee $5.00 per car
Leaders:  Dave Goodwin, Simon Thompson, and Jim Eager

Fort DeSoto County Park is a premier birding destination in Florida. More than 250 species of birds have been recorded in the park over the years. Fall migration brings neo-tropical migratory species to the park as well as occasional wanderers from the Caribbean and the western United States. The island’s shorebird diversity is one of the best on the Florida west coast. This trip is intended for advanced birders and will be offered all three days.   MAP

Fort DeSoto Park Website


T-S-5  Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary Field Trip: Birds and Terrapins
2:00 – 4:30 pm (carpool leaves 1:30 pm)
Limited to 11 participants
Fee:  $65.00, no parking or park fees
Leaders:  George Heinrich, Ann Paul, and Carol Cassels

Meeting at Williams Park Boat Ramp at the mouth of the Alafia River, we will travel by outboard motorboat to Hillsborough Bay. We will explore the shorelines of the Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary and find diamondback terrapins. George Heinrich will describe the life-history of this rare estuarine turtle. Although birds will not be nesting, we will look for wading birds, Brown and White pelicans, cormorants, Ospreys, terns and gulls, and migratory shorebirds. We may see dolphins and rays.   MAP

Alafia Bank Sanctuary


T-S-6  Triple Creek Preserve, Butterflies, Dragonflies, and More, Hillsborough County
2:00 – 4:00 pm (carpool leaves 1:15 pm)
Limited to 40 participants
Fee:  $45.00
Leaders:  Marc Minno, John Lampkin, and Joe Epstein

This 971-acre tract has a mix of wetland and upland habitats, including pine flatwoods, wetland forests, and improved pasture areas. It is home to many rare species of plants including flakelet fern and grass-pink orchids. The diverse habitats ensure a wide variety of butterflies and other pollinators.   MAP



T-S-7  Lower Green Swamp County Preserve, Wagon Tour, Hillsborough County
2:00 - 5:00 pm (carpool leaves 1:00 pm)
Limited to 19 participants
Fee:  $45.00 for parents, children free
Leaders:  Andy Fairbanks and Mic McCarty

Lower Green Swamp Preserve, formerly the Cone Ranch, is an area of protected lands in northeastern Hillsborough County, and the largest parcel currently in the ELAPP Program. This trip will look at the Preserve from the back of a trailer. The preserve includes pine uplands and open grasslands, and a crossing over lovely small stream. Possible sightings include red headed woodpeckers to the elusive Bachman’s sparrow, with wild turkeys and quail down low and raptors on high. Participants will ride on a tour wagon.   MAP

Lower Green Swamp Website


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2017

T-SU-1  Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge, Pinellas County
8:30 am – 12:00 pm (carpool leaves 7:30 am)
Limited to 40 participants
Fee:  $65.00
Leaders:  Barb and Dave Howard, Ann Paul, Charlie Fisher, and Joyce Kleen

Join the Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuge for a special boat cruise to Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge/State Park. Established in 1974 to protect migratory birds, the island is situated at the mouth of Tampa Bay and is also the site of historic Fort Dade. Three hundred soldiers served at the fort from 1898-1923 and the restored guardhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse, built in 1858, is still used for navigation. A key migratory bird fall-out site in fall migration, the island hosts a large seabird and pelican colony during the spring nesting season. We expect to see warblers, other songbirds, raptors, gulls, terns, and other seabirds.   MAP

Egmont Key NWR Website


T-SU-2  Lettuce Lake Regional Park, Beginning Birding, Hillsborough County
8:00 am – 12:00 pm (carpool leaves 7:15 am)
Limited to 25 participants
Fee:  $30.00, plus park fee $2.00
Leaders:  Megan Campbell, Bill Pranty, and Valeri Ponzo

Lettuce Lake, which opened in 1982, consists of 240-acres, an interpretive center, a 3,500-foot boardwalk and an observation tower where visitors can view an extensive variety of wildlife. We expect to see a variety of water birds and upland birds, including herons, egrets, limpkins, ospreys, woodpeckers, vireos, warblers, red-shouldered hawks, barred owls, and more. This trip will be oriented to beginning and intermediate birders.   MAP

Lettuce Lake Regional Park Website



T-SU-3  Cockroach Bay Preserve, Hillsborough County
8:00 am – 11:00 pm (carpool leaves 7:30 am)
Limited to 30 participants
Fee:  $30.00, no park fees
Leaders:  Mary Keith, Sandy Reed, and Mary Barnwell

Cockroach Bay (500 acres) is one of the largest coastal ecosystem restoration projects. It includes a mosaic of coastal habitats including uplands and freshwater and estuarine wetlands, high and low marshes, salterns, tidal channels/lagoons, mud/sand flats, islands, artificial reefs, and deep water refugia. There will be short walk up a hill for better views across the wetlands, then a walk around the marsh and woodlands to look for grassland and woodland birds. The area is one of the better spots for catching migrants heading south, so passerines are as likely as waders, and raptors are always around.   MAP

Cockroach Bay Website (State) Cockroach Bay Website (County)


T-SU-4  Fort DeSoto County Park, Extreme Birding, Pinellas County
7:45 am – 1:00 pm (carpool leaves 7:00 am)
Limited to 25 participants
Fee:  $30.00, plus toll $2.00 and park fee $5.00 per car
Leaders:  Dave Goodwin, Jim Eager, and Simon Thompson

Fort DeSoto County Park is a premier birding destination in Florida. More than 250 species of birds have been recorded in the park over the years. Fall migration brings neo-tropical migratory species to the park as well as occasional wanderers from the Caribbean and the western United States. The island’s shorebird diversity is one of the best on the Florida west coast. This trip is intended for advanced birders and will be offered all three days.   MAP

Fort DeSoto Park Website


CANCELLED
T-SU-5  Dunedin Hammock Bird Banding, Pinellas County

Leaders:  Jim McGinity and John Hood

We’re sorry, but this trip has been cancelled due to damage from Hurricane Irma to the park. The city of Dunedin has determined that the park is not safe to be used, and there is no likelihood that it will reopen in time for the festival.

Please plan for next year, as Dunedin Hammock is noted as a fall migrant trap. You can hope to find Canada, golden-winged, blue winged and cerulean warblers, and many other warbler species, plus vireos, thrushes, orioles, and tanagers. Birds can be observed in the hand at the bird-banding station.

Dunedin Hammock Website


T-SU-6  Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve for Scrub Jays and Butterflies, Hillsborough County
7:30 – 10:30 am (carpool leaves 7:00 am)
Limited to 30 participants
Fee:  $30.00, no park fee
Leaders:  Andy Fairbanks, Mic McCarty, Connie Anderson, and John Lampkin

The Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve is part of Hillsborough County’s Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP) sites. This 1236-acre sanctuary provides a large expanse of diverse and increasingly rare natural habitat, such as sand pine scrub and oak scrub. This site also hosts one of Hillsborough County’s few remaining Florida scrub-jay populations, as well as gopher tortoises, Florida sandhill cranes, and redheaded woodpeckers. We expect to see many species of butterflies as well due to the diverse array of wildflowers on the site. There will be leaders to show you all of them. The walk is not long, but it is in soft sand, and open sun. There’s no shade in the scrub. So please plan accordingly, wear walking shoes, bring plenty of water and a snack.   MAP


Field trip tickets:  $30-65

Go to ONLINE REGISTRATION