5:30am - 11:00am
Sunrise Photography and Birding – Mostly driving, some walking
McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $35, includes bag lunch. Leaders: Mark Meifert (Orange Audubon Society) and Sam Mitcham (Orange Audubon Society). 5:30 a.m.?11:00 a.m. Maximum participants: 20. See Trip 1 for more details. Trip leaders will provide both photo and bird identification tips at sunrise and throughout the morning. See Trip 2 for possible sightings.
7:00am - 11:30pm
Best of Birding Lake Apopka North Shore – Mostly driving, some walking
McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $35, includes bag lunch. Leaders: Alex Lamoreaux (Wildside Nature Tours) with Tom Rodriguez (Orange Audubon Society) and Jason Ward (National Audubon Society). 7:00 a.m.?12:00 p.m. Maximum participants: 22. On this half-day trip we will focus on the best birds seen on the all-day Lake Apopka North Shores trips on the previous three days . See Trip 2 for possible sightings. This trip can be taken in combination with Trip 37.
7:30am - 11:30am
Wekiwa Springs Sandhill Tram Birding – Tram tour, some walking
Wekiwa Springs State Park (1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka, FL 32712. $35, includes bag lunch. Leaders: Greg Miller (Wildside Nature Tours)with Paul Lammardo (Wekiwa Springs State Park) and Kathy Rigling (Orange Audubon Society). 7:30 a.m.?12:00 p.m. Maximum participants: 18. Wekiwa Springs State Park is a 7,000-acre state park considered one of the crown jewels of Florida’s award- winning state park system. Possible sightings: At Wekiwa we will look for pine land specialties, including Brown-headed Nuthatches, Bachman’s Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, Pine Warblers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and overwintering songbirds. This trip can be taken in combination with Trip 37.
7:30am - 2:30pm
Emeralda Marsh: Waterfowl and Sparrows – Mostly walking, some driving
Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area, 36645 Emeralda Island Road Leesburg, FL 34788. $40, includes bag lunch. Leaders: Gallus Quigley (Lake County Parks and Trails) and Rebecca Smith (Archaeopteryx Tours). 7:30 a.m.?2:30 p.m. Maximum participants: 22. Emeralda Marsh, which is near the headwaters of the Ocklawaha River on the eastern side of Lake Griffin, historically spanned more than 10,000 acres before being utilized for farming. The St. Johns River Water Management District acquired approximately half of this 6,577-acre area for restoration in 1991. We will first bird Area 3, the 4.5-mile round-trip wildlife drive from the comfort of our vehicles with possible sightings such as Northern Harriers, ducks, and waders, including American Bittern. Some songbirds are possible and rare birds have included Lazuli Bunting, Pine Siskin, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Snail Kite, and White-faced Ibis. After birding the wildlife drive, we will eat our bag lunches, and then explore Area 2 and possibly Areas 6 and 7 for LeConte's and Grasshopper Sparrows, Painted Buntings, and more ducks. For other possible sightings see Trip 5. This trip can be taken in combination with afternoon Trip 37.
9:00am - 1:30pm
Orlando Wetlands Park – Half walking, half tram riding
Orlando Wetlands Park, 25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas, FL 32709. $35, includes bag lunch. Leaders: João Jara (Birds & Nature Tours Portugal) and Karen Hamblett (Orlando Wetlands Park volunteer). 9:00 a.m.?1:30 p.m. Maximum participants: 20. The Orlando Wetlands Park is an award-winning, man-made wetland designed to provide not only advanced treatment for reclaimed water from the City of Orlando and other local cities, but also a habitat for wildlife. Located in Christmas, FL in the far eastern part of Orange County, the park encompasses 1,650 acres with 21 miles of berm trails crisscrossing it and has become a wildlife haven and birding hot-spot. We will walk and bird in the morning, eat our bag lunches, and then take a tram ride toward midday. Possible sightings: Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Roseate Spoonbills, Limpkins, and Purple Gallinules. As you are already in easternmost Orange County, near I-95, this trip can be conveniently taken in combination with afternoon Trip 37, which is straight up I-95 in Daytona Beach Shores.
3:30pm - 6:30pm
Gull Congregation at Daytona Beach Shores – Mostly driving, some walking
Frank Rendon Park (2705 S Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118-5701). $25. Leaders: Michael Brothers (Marine Science Center) with David Hartgrove (Halifax Audubon Society) and Greg Miller (Wildside Nature Tours). 3:30 p.m.?6:30 p.m. Maximum participants: 35. Daytona Beach Shores, about an hour north of Lake Apopka, hosts an amazing birding spectacle each late afternoon and evening during the winter months. Gulls from the northeastern U.S. and Canada winter here, feeding during the day at Daytona Beach’s Tomoka Landfill. Hundreds of thousands of gulls fly for the evening to the beach at Daytona Beach Shores. After gathering on the beach, close enough for identification by birders, at dusk the gulls settle beyond the breakers offshore. Fast-flying Pomerine and Parastic Jaegers try to pick off the less aware individuals. Michael Brothers, gull expert and recently retired director of the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, discovered this amazing phenomenon about 10 years ago and has been monitoring the gull congregations almost every winter evening since. Michael and co-leaders will help us identify the various species and their age classes. Possible sightings: Laughing, Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed are common, but Bonaparte’s, Franklin, Lesser Black-backed, Glaucous, Iceland, Thayer’s, and California gulls are also possible. Vega Gull, European Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Slaty-backed Gull are rarities that have turned up. After you register for this trip, contact the festival organizers for suggestions of birding stops on the way to Ponce Inlet and dinner suggestions afterwards.