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: 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
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 Americas 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 this evening is on your own to explore your local cuisine preferences. A bus will take those who wish to go to a Lakewood Ranch area restaurant.Evening: FREE EVENING: You'll have about three hours for dinner and exploring on your own, then the bus will return to the hotel. Get some rest before tomorrow's full day of activity!Lodging: Holiday Inn-Lakewood RanchMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
With discussion after with Jerry and Sandy Ulrikson who moved to Sarasota in 2005 and are avid birders and wildlife enthusiasts. They 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.
Then get ready for tomorrow and another early morning start!Lodging: Holiday Inn-Lakewood RanchMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner