FIELD TRIPS



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 and native plant identification on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings; butterfly and dragonfly identification and ant behavior Friday and Saturday afternoons; and an almost all day search for three species of Florida cooters takes place on Sunday.

Most field trips are easy walks and some are on wagons or boats. Field trip descriptions indicate if there is any hill climbing or skills (like paddling) 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, and a change of clothes is a good idea if you are going on one of the kayaking trips.

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.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2016

T-F-1 Fort DeSoto County Park, Extreme Birding, Pinellas County
7:00 am - 1:00 pm, Carpool: 6:00 am
Limited to 20 participants, Fee: $20, toll $2.00, Park fee $5.00 per car.
Leaders: Dave Goodwin, 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 repeated both Saturday and Sunday. A beginning birding trip to Fort De Soto is scheduled on Sunday.

Fort DeSoto Park Website Google Map


T-F-2 Manatee Viewing Center, Newman Branch Restoration Habitats, Florida Conservation Center, Hillsborough County
8:00 am - 12:00 pm, Carpool: 7:30 am
Limited to 40 participants, Fee $20.
Leaders: Stan Kroh, Tom Ries, Mary Keith

The Manatee Viewing Center is home to hundreds of manatees during the winter season, but there are also opportunities to view birds and wildlife along the Tidal Flat Walkway and nature trail through coastal habitats. The Newman Branch site contains an example of rare saltern habitat, a boardwalk through a mangrove forest and a 50’ high wildlife observation tower. The trip includes a behind the scenes tour of the new Florida Conservation and Technology Center.

Manatee Viewing Center Website Google Map


T-F-3 Outback Key, Shell Key, Ft. De Soto County Park from the water with Tampa Bay Watch, Pinellas County
8:00 am - 11:15 am, Carpool: 7:00 am
Limited to 25 participants, Fee $40, tolls $2.10.
Leaders: Eric Plage, Adam and Gina Kent

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.

Tampa Bay Watch Website Shell Key Preserve Google Map


T-F-4 Mosaic Wetland Reclamation, Manatee County
8:00 am - 10:00 am, Carpool: 7:00 am
Limited to 25 participants, Fee $20.
Leaders: Bill Brammell, Cole Fredericks

See an example of a freshwater marsh reclaimed on land previously mined for phosphate. The 500-acre herbaceous wetland is comprised of wet prairie, freshwater marsh, and open water habitat. A boardwalk and observation tower provide good vantage points to see the freshwater expanse and its wildlife inhabitants, including herons and egrets, roseate spoonbills, ibis, wood storks, plus turtles and alligators. Adjacent restored upland xeric habitat provides sightings of migratory songbirds and raptors.

Mosaic Wetland Reclamation Website Google Map


T-F-5 Lower Green Swamp County Preserve, Wagon Tour, Hillsborough County
8:00 am - 11:00 am, Carpool: 7:00 am
Limited to 19 participants, Fee $20.
Leaders: Andy Fairbanks, Steve Raymond, Charlie Fisher

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 ELAP 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.

Lower Green Swamp Website Google Map


T-F-6 Honeymoon Island State Park, Pinellas County
8:00 am - 11:00 am, Carpool: 6:30 am
Limited to 30 participants, Fee $20, Park fee $8 per vehicle up to 8 persons, $4 single occupant vehicle
Leaders: Dan Larremore, 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.

Honeymoon sland State Park Website Google Map


T-F-7 Little Manatee River State Park Native Plant Walk, Hillsborough County
8:00 am - 11:00 am, Carpool: 7:30 am
Limited to 20 participants, Fee: $20, Park fee $5 per vehicle up to 8 persons, $4 single occupant vehicle
Leaders: Suncoast Native Plant Society members: Shirley Denton, Steve Dickman, Donna Bollenbach

Manatee River State Park supports a diversity of native plant communities including the river, riverine swamps, scrub, scrubby flatwoods, and flatwoods. The route will be chosen based on where fall wildflowers are blooming. In October, we anticipate finding blazing stars, asters and goldenasters, vanilla plant, and many other species that attract butterflies. The park has toothed-lattice-vein fern, which is state-listed as Threatened, and Florida goldenaster which is federally listed as Endangered has been reported. The park is a designated location on the "Florida Scenic Birding Trail", making it an ideal place for birdwatching. Pileated woodpecker, red bellied woodpeckers and red-headed woodpeckers may be seen. Wading birds often frequent the river.

Little Manatee River State Park Website Google Map


T-F-8 Triple Creek Preserve, Butterflies and Dragonflies, Hillsborough County
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm, Carpool: 1:30 pm
Limited to 30 participants, Fee $20
Leaders: Marc Minno, John Lampkin, Paul Trunk

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.

Triple Creek Preserve Website Google Map
Eastern Pondhawk(Anhinga anhinga)


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2016


T-SA-1 Rock Ponds and Cockroach Bay Restoration Habitats, Hillsborough County
8:00 am – 12:00 pm, Carpool: 7:30 am, Fee $20.00
Limited to 19 participants, Fee $20.00
Leaders: Brandt Henningsen, Mary Barnwell, Tom Ries, Nancy Norton, Sandy Reed

The Rock Ponds (1043 acres) and Cockroach Bay (500 acres) are two of the largest coastal ecosystem restoration projects ever performed by the SWIM Program of the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Conservation and Environmental Lands Management Department of Hillsborough County. Both projects encompass 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. Short walks up hill for viewing, wagon ride through restored areas.

Rock Ponds Website Cockroach Bay Website Google Map
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)


T-SA-2 Lettuce Lake Regional Park, Beginning Birding, Hillsborough County
8:00 am – 12:00 pm, Carpool 7:15 am
Limited to 25 participants, Fee $20.00, Park fee $2.00
Leaders: Jim Cox, Katie Nesmith, Roger Sheets

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.

Lettuce Lake Regional Park Website Google Map


T-SA-3 Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve Native Plant Walk, Hillsborough County
8:00 am – 12:00 pm, Carpool: 7:30 am
Limited to 20 participants, Fee: $20.00
Leaders: Charlie Fisher, Suncoast Native Plant Society members: Shirley Denton, Steve Dickman

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. The diverse array of wildflowers present on the site provides excellent opportunities for botanical study, and in October, also we expect to see many species of butterflies. Species that may be blooming in October include liatris, deer tongue, goldenrod, various asters and more. This site also hosts one of Hillsborough County’s few remaining Florida scrub-jay populations, as well as, gopher tortoises, Florida sandhill cranes, and the redheaded woodpeckers.

Golden Aster Nature Preserve Website Google Map


T-SA-4 Circle B Bar Reserve, Polk County
8:00 am – 12:00 pm, Carpool: 6:30 am
Limited to 40 participants, Fee: $20.00
Leaders: Mary Keith, Cole Fredericks, Colleen and Mike Fearney

Circle B Bar Preserve was once lakeside marsh drained for cattle pasture. Now jointly owned and managed by Polk County and 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. You will walk a loop of about 3 miles along dikes between marsh and ponds and along Lake Hancock. Besides birds there will be gators, turtles and more.
NO PETS ALLOWED. NO PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED WITHOUT A PRIOR PERMIT.

Circle B Bar Reserve Website Google Map
Bobcat (Lynx rufus)


T-SA-5 Perico Preserve, Manatee County
8:30 am – 11:00 am, Carpool: 7:30 am Limited to 40 participants, Fee: $20.00
Leaders: Damon Moore, Billy and Jerry Knight, Kathy Doddridge

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.

Perico Preserve Website Google Map


T-SA-6 Alafia Banks Bird Sanctuary excursion on Bay Spirit II, Hillsborough County
9:00 am – 11:30 am, Carpool: 8:00 am
Limited to 40 participants, Fee: $40.00, Aquarium Parking $6.00.
Leaders: Mark Rachal, Ann Paul

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. Enjoy a bonus free aquarium admission for the day upon your return!

Alifia Banks Website Google Map


T-SA-7 Triple Creek Preserve, Butterflies and Dragonflies, Hillsborough County
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Carpool: 1:30 pm
Limited to 30 participants, Fee $20.00
Leaders: Don Stillwaugh, Paul Trunk, John Lampkin

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.

Triple Creek Preserve Website Google Map
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)


T-SA-8 Fort DeSoto County Park, Extreme Birding, Pinellas County
7:00 am – 1:00 pm, Carpool: 6:00 am
Limited to 20 participants, Fee: $20.00, Toll $2.10, Park Fee $5.00 per car.
Leaders: Dave Goodwin, 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. Spring and fall migration brings neotropical 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. Birding the park is easy with access to many great birding spots involving very short walks. This trip is intended for advanced birders and will be repeated on Sunday. A beginning birding trip to Fort DeSoto is also scheduled on Sunday.

Fort DeSoto County Park Website Google Map
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)


T-SA-9 Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center, Hillsborough County
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm, Carpool: 1:30 pm
Limited to 20 participants, Fee: $20.00
Leaders: Dr. George Shambaugh

Learn about ants and their social structure when you search colonies of ants, by locating a nest opening and discerning what kind, if any, structure or environment is created there. Ant burrows in the sandy soils in Florida create different habitats from ant structures dug in other soil types, including clay soils. Participants will learn about ants, their behaviors, physiology, and how to discriminate between the native species and those that create problems for humans. This trip is designed for learners of all ages.

Camp Bayou Website Google Map


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2016

T-SU-1 Duette Preserve Wagon Tour, Manatee County
8:00 am – 10:00 pm, Carpool: 7:00 am
Limited to 18 participants, Fee: $25.00
Leaders: Aedan Stockdale, David Gordon

At more than 21,000 acres, Duette Preserve is the largest Preserve in Manatee County. Located in the eastern part of the county it contains the headwaters of Manatee River. Many species of wildlife can be found on Duette Preserve, including species of special concern such as the burrowing owl, snowy egret, white ibis, gopher tortoise, and at least two endangered/threatened species, the eastern indigo snake and one of the largest and healthiest populations of Florida Scrub Jays in the state. Duette Preserve is also host to many of the native plant communities of Manatee County, providing protection and preservation of pine flatwoods, hardwood swamps, xeric oak scrub, depression marsh, and vast dry prairie. Participants will ride on a tour wagon.

Duette Preserve Website Google Map
Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)


T-SU-2 Fort DeSoto County Park, Beginning Birding, Pinellas County
8:30 am – 1:00 pm, Carpool: 7:30 am
Limited to 30 participants, Fee: $20.00, Toll $2.10, Park Fee $5.00 per car.
Leaders: Jim Cox, Katie Nesmith, Roger Sheets

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. Spring and 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. Birding the park is easy with access to many great birding spots involving very short walks. This field trip is especially designed for beginning birders and will focus on spotting and identifying shore and water birds.

Fort DeSoto Website Google Map
Anhinga(Anhinga anhinga) ♂ ♀


T-SU-3 Little Manatee River Kayaking for Turtles Trip – Canoe Outpost, Hillsborough County
8:30 am – 3:00 pm, Carpool: 8:00 am
Limited to 12 participants, Fee: $30.00.
Leaders: George Heinrich, Damon Chepren

The Little Manatee River is one of Central Florida's most scenic and is designated by the State as an "Outstanding Florida Water”. There will be ample opportunity for watching wildlife while leisurely kayaking downriver on a six-mile stretch of this calm, tannic river. Special emphasis will be placed on the identification and natural history of riverine turtles, particularly three species of cooters (genus Pseudemys). Please bring: small coolers with lunches/drinks, dry bag.

Canoe Outpost Website Google Map


T-SU-4 Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge, Pinellas County
8:30 am – 12:00 pm, Carpool: 7:30 am
Limited to 40 participants, Fee: $45.00.
Leaders: Barb and Dave Howard, Ann Paul, Mary Keith, Charlie Fisher

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.

Egmont Key NWR Website Google Map


T-SU-5 Dunedin Hammock Bird Banding, Pinellas County
7:00 am – 12:30 pm, Carpool: 6:00 am
Limited to 20 participants, Fee: $20.00.
Leaders: Jim McGinity, John Hood, CAS

Dunedin Hammock is noted as a fall migrant trap. We 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 Google Map
White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)


T-SU-6 Celery Fields, Sarasota County
8:00 am – 11:00 am, Carpool: 7:15 am
Limited to 40 participants, Fee: $20.00.
Leaders: Jeanne Dubi, Kathryn Young

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.

Celery Fields Website Google Map


T-SU-7 Wolf Branch Nature Preserve Native Plant Walk, Hillsborough County
7:45 am - 11:45 am, Carpool: 7:30 am
Limited to 20 participants, Fee: $20.00.
Leaders: Native Plant Society members: Donna Bollenbach, Shirley Denton, Steve Dickman

Wolf Branch Nature Preserve is part of Hillsborough County’s Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP) sites. Located near the coast in Apollo Beach, it is a mosaic of coastal hammock, tidal flats, salt marsh, mangroves, freshwater ponds and restored uplands. Every season presents a new array of flora and fauna. Cabbage palm hammocks dot the landscape, while succulent glassworts in red, green and yellow, blanket the tidal flat. Rich, warm grasses and tall vibrant yellow goldenrods, red spiked coral bean and sea purslane may be in bloom. We will walk the best route for fall color, and will likely see many different birds in the ponds and salt marsh.

Wolf Branch Nature Preserve Website Google Map


T-SU-8 Kayaking from the TECO/Florida Aquarium Conservation Center, Hillsborough County
8:30 am – 11:30 am, Carpool: 8:00 am
Limited to 14 participants, Fee: $50.00, includes kayaks, guide and boxed lunch.
Leaders: To be determined, Tampa Aquarium and TECO

This 3 hour kayak bird-watching excursion leaves the Center for Conservation in Apollo Beach, Florida. Kayak through the mangrove tunnels of the restored Newman Branch creek, where you will have the opportunity to see an abundance of wildlife, including our local bird population (roseate spoonbills, white ibis, and herons, to name a few) and a chance to see manatees, guided by one of the Florida Aquarium’s experienced kayak guides! During the tour, there will be a bird-watching stop at the Wildlife Observation Tower, as well as a stop on the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve with time to have lunch on the beach. Participants should be able to paddle a kayak at a moderate rate for extended periods.

Florida Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Website Google Map


T-SU-9 Fort De Soto, Extreme Birding, Pinellas Count
7:00 am – 1:00 pm, Carpool: 6:00 am
Limited to 20 participants, Fee: $20.00, Toll $2.10, Park Fee $5.00 per car.
Leaders: Dave Goodwin, 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. Spring and 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. Birding the park is easy with access to many great birding spots involving very short walks. This trip is intended or advanced birders.

Fort DeSoto Website Google Map
Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus)