PROGRAM REGISTRATION: Come over to the Road Scholar desk in the foyer between 3:30-4:45pm to register with the program staff and pick up your arrival packet that we'll review during orientation.
ORIENTATION: Beginning at 5:00pm in our private meeting room, we'll have an overview of the program ahead and review the up-to-date schedule, responsibilities, safety, guidelines, emergency procedures, and any other administrative issues. Please be aware that local circumstances may be require adjusting program elements. In the event of changes, we will notify you as quickly as possible. We appreciate your understanding.Dinner: Dinner is catered by the hotel restaurant in our private room beginning at approximately 6:00pm. We have worked with the chef to provide meals that are both tasty and nutritious. (Special meal requests must be made in advance via your Health & Safety Information form.)Evening: GETTING TO KNOW YOU: After dinner we'll spend some time becoming better acquainted with participants and program staff. Find out what you have in common beyond a love of learning! The rest of the evening is yours to continue making new friends or just to relax and prepare for the full day of activity ahead.
You are about to embark on a new birding adventure in beautiful Sarasota. Hundreds of migrating species pass through the region during the peak migration periods and many regularly spend the winter months here. Led by experts, explore “hot spots” that have made this area a veritable gold mine for birders.Lodging: Holiday Inn-Lakewood RanchMeals Included: Dinner
FIELD TRIP: Birding begins with a short walk to Lake Osprey to search for Common Moorhens, American Coots, Pied Billed Grebes, herons, ducks and terns. Learn how incursions by nature and man have affected the lake's wildlife. Lake Osprey is located behind the hotel.Lunch: Lunch is catered by the hotel restaurant in our private room.Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Our first stop of the afternoon will be Shamrock Park, a Sarasota County Park bordering the Intracoastal Waterway in South Venice. It is home to several families of the endangered Florida Scrub Jays and numerous Gopher Tortoises because of the dry sandy scrub habitat. The Scrub Jays are located mostly in the central area of the park surrounding the nature center. The tortoises live in the sandy soil in the park's middle area. Other regularly seen birds in this 82 acres park include Common Ground Doves, Carolina Wrens, four woodpecker species, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Towhees and several species of hawks.
Next we will explore the very special Venice Area Audubon Rookery which is internationally known by birders and photographers for the viewing of wading birds at close range. The birds use the island in the lake as a safe haven to roost in at night and to nest (November to June). Birds that regularly nest at the Rookery are Black-crowned Night-Herons, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons and Anhingas. They are protected from land predators by alligators which patrol the water around the island. If you have cameras, bring them. The Rookery offers outstanding close up viewing and photo opportunities.
Dinner: Dinner is catered by the hotel restaurant in our private room.Evening: PRESENTATION: They have served as volunteers for several years with the Whooping Crane reintroduction program, joining the migration crew in bringing Whooping Cranes from Wisconsin to Sarasota behind an ultra-light aircraft. Tune in for an update of crane talk.Lodging: Holiday Inn-Lakewood RanchMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
A log of bird sightings is kept in the park's administration building. The checklist is based on documented bird sightings from the area over the past 60 years. A total of 328 bird species has been reported as of August 2008 and new bird species are being added practically every year. Such rarities as Bananaquit, MacGillivray's Warbler, Kirtland's Warbler, Purple Sandpiper, Heermann's Gull and Brown Crested Flycatcher have been recorded recently.
Understand why this County Park has become an outstanding migrant bird trap. Before our trip, your guide will peruse the Internet Rare Bird Alert looking for reports of special sightings at Ft. De Soto. If rare birds have been sighted, we will attempt to track them down.Lunch: Picnic lunch at Fort DeSoto State Park as we watch and listen to the waves lapping on the beach. Fort De Soto was named America's Top Beach for the second consecutive year by the world's largest online travel community, citing a spectacular combination of soft white sand, calm, clear water and a laid-back atmosphereAfternoon: FIELD TRIP: Our Fort DeSoto birding field trip continues. Many species of shorebirds winter here along the Gulf Coast including Long Billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Short Billed Dowitcher, Reddish Egret and others. In fact, wintering birds start arriving as early as late July. North Beach and the end of East Beach are good places to look for them. A small variety of hawks and ducks also utilize the area as a wintering site. The puddle ducks, however, are most often reported at the pond a half mile before reaching the park entrance. Occasionally in winter, sea ducks, gannets and jaegers can be seen from the Gulf side of the park.Dinner: Dinner will be in our private meeting room catered by the hotel.Evening: PRESENTATION: Our resident birding expert will discuss upcoming field trips sites and the birds you are likely to see during the rest of your adventure: Roberts Bay Rookery, Fort De Soto Park, Shamrock Park, Myakka River State Park, Venice Rookery and the Celery Fields. Plenty of time for Q&A.Lodging: Holiday Inn-Lakewood RanchMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Explore the Canopy Tower Trail. When you reach the structure, you'll walk up to 85 foot long canopy suspension bridge, then climb above the treetops to reach the 76 foot high tower to seek raptors below. (If you have a problem with heights, there are opportunities for viewing along the nature trail.Lunch: Picnic lunch with views of the Upper Myakka Lake and the inlet nearby.Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Continue exploring at Myakka State Park.Dinner: Enjoy a farewell dinner catered by the hotel restaurant in our private room.Evening: PRESENTATION: This night is for the birds! We’ll gather to compare notes with our birding expert on the birds we’ve seen on this program, other Road Scholar programs, and rare birds you may have seen on your own travels.Lodging: Holiday Inn-Lakewood RanchMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner