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SARASOTA, FLORIDA

Birding Hot Spots: The Wild Side of Sarasota

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Road Scholar
Program #19349RJ
6 Days | 5 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Active
While all of our learning adventures offer extraordinary value, our "Best Value" programs were rated by our participants themselves who thought their dollar went particularly far.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.

Itinerary for Mar 22 — Mar 27, 2015

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Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Hotel is located on Lake Osprey in the Nationally Renowned Master Planned Community of Lakewood Ranch, minutes from many of the area attractions. Close to restaurants, a hospital, pharmacy, grocery stores, movie theaters, hair salons etc., some within walking distance.

Contact info:
6231 Lake Osprey Drive
Sarasota, FL 34240 USA
phone: 941-782-4400
web: www.hilr.com

Room amenities: In room coffeemakers, refrigerator, microwave, hair dryers, iron and ironing board, data ports, 2 two-line phones, desk, ergonomic chair, high speed Internet service, plug in or wireless, color TV/remote, in-room pay movies, cable/HBO, alarm clock radio.

Facility amenities: Hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool/spa, fitness center, full service restaurant, cocktail lounge, room service, on site laundry facilities, free parking.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Call for Road Scholar rates.
Please make reservations as soon as possible this hotel fills up quickly during season. Please call the hotel directly at 941-782-4400 not the national toll free number in order to receive the AAA discounted rate.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Sunday, March 22 - Arrival & Check-in, Registration & Orientation, G...
Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: 3:00pm. Rooms may be ready earlier.

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. We offer vegetarian and gluten free meals.(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 Ranch

Meals Included: Dinner

Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Hotel is located on Lake Osprey in the Nationally Renowned Master Planned Community of Lakewood Ranch, minutes from many of the area attractions. Close to restaurants, a hospital, pharmacy, grocery stores, movie theaters, hair salons etc., some within walking distance.

Contact info:
6231 Lake Osprey Drive
Sarasota, FL 34240 USA
phone: 941-782-4400
web: www.hilr.com

Room amenities: In room coffeemakers, refrigerator, microwave, hair dryers, iron and ironing board, data ports, 2 two-line phones, desk, ergonomic chair, high speed Internet service, plug in or wireless, color TV/remote, in-room pay movies, cable/HBO, alarm clock radio.

Facility amenities: Hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool/spa, fitness center, full service restaurant, cocktail lounge, room service, on site laundry facilities, free parking.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Call for Road Scholar rates.
Please make reservations as soon as possible this hotel fills up quickly during season. Please call the hotel directly at 941-782-4400 not the national toll free number in order to receive the AAA discounted rate.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Two: Monday, March 23 - Identification Characteristics, Lake Osprey Walki...
Identification Characteristics, Lake Osprey Walking Field Trip, Venice Rookery & Shamrock Park, Evening screening of "Flight of the Whooping Crane," with discussion by actual volunteers in this project.

Note: Walk behind hotel to Lake Osprey, limited walking. Venice Rookery & Shamrock Park: walk on uneven surfaces up to 2 miles at a 2.0 mph pace over the course of the day.

Breakfast: Continental breakfast in our private room.

Morning: PRESENTATION: Our birding expert will provide an overview of key identification characteristics of birds in the area through a power point presentation.

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 Ranch

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Hotel is located on Lake Osprey in the Nationally Renowned Master Planned Community of Lakewood Ranch, minutes from many of the area attractions. Close to restaurants, a hospital, pharmacy, grocery stores, movie theaters, hair salons etc., some within walking distance.

Contact info:
6231 Lake Osprey Drive
Sarasota, FL 34240 USA
phone: 941-782-4400
web: www.hilr.com

Room amenities: In room coffeemakers, refrigerator, microwave, hair dryers, iron and ironing board, data ports, 2 two-line phones, desk, ergonomic chair, high speed Internet service, plug in or wireless, color TV/remote, in-room pay movies, cable/HBO, alarm clock radio.

Facility amenities: Hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool/spa, fitness center, full service restaurant, cocktail lounge, room service, on site laundry facilities, free parking.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Call for Road Scholar rates.
Please make reservations as soon as possible this hotel fills up quickly during season. Please call the hotel directly at 941-782-4400 not the national toll free number in order to receive the AAA discounted rate.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Three: Tuesday, March 24 - Fort DeSoto State Park Full Day Field Trip, Eveni...
Fort DeSoto State Park Full Day Field Trip, Evening birding presentation by expert.

Note: Participants must be able to walk on uneven surfaces up to two miles at a 2.0 mph pace over the course of the day.

Breakfast: Early morning continental breakfast available at 6:00am. Please be ready to depart for the field trip by 7:15am.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Rise early to begin your adventure this morning as you travel to Fort De Soto Park which has become internationally famous as one of the premier bird watching locations in the eastern United States. This park consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands.

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 atmosphere

Afternoon: 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 Ranch

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Hotel is located on Lake Osprey in the Nationally Renowned Master Planned Community of Lakewood Ranch, minutes from many of the area attractions. Close to restaurants, a hospital, pharmacy, grocery stores, movie theaters, hair salons etc., some within walking distance.

Contact info:
6231 Lake Osprey Drive
Sarasota, FL 34240 USA
phone: 941-782-4400
web: www.hilr.com

Room amenities: In room coffeemakers, refrigerator, microwave, hair dryers, iron and ironing board, data ports, 2 two-line phones, desk, ergonomic chair, high speed Internet service, plug in or wireless, color TV/remote, in-room pay movies, cable/HBO, alarm clock radio.

Facility amenities: Hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool/spa, fitness center, full service restaurant, cocktail lounge, room service, on site laundry facilities, free parking.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Call for Road Scholar rates.
Please make reservations as soon as possible this hotel fills up quickly during season. Please call the hotel directly at 941-782-4400 not the national toll free number in order to receive the AAA discounted rate.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Four: Wednesday, March 25 - Gulf of Mexico Beach Field Trip, (most likely Sie...
Gulf of Mexico Beach Field Trip, (most likely Siesta Key Beach), Roberts Bay Rookery Boating Field Trip, Free Evening: Dinner on your own.

Note: Beach field trip participants would need to be able to walk on uneven sand conditions, wet, dry or loose. Ride aboard the Carefree Learner, must have good balance to board pontoon style boat with benches.

Breakfast: Early morning continental breakfast available at 6:30am. Please be ready to depart for the field trip by 7:45am.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We'll board our bus and drive to a local Gulf of Mexico beach of one of Sarasota's islands (depending on what's hot at the time-mostly likely Siesta Key Beach) in search of shorebirds such as the Snowy Plovers, Willets, Red Knots, Black Skimmers, terns and gulls. Learn how groups are attempting to protect beach nesting birds from predators.


Lunch: Picnic lunch at a park.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: We will board our bus and drive to the beautiful Sarasota Bay where we will board the Carefree Learner for a private boat ride to Roberts Bay Rookery to see breeding birds. Learn how the efforts of one group have saved the rookery and made it possible for birds like American Oystercatchers and Roseate Spoonbills to nest there. At approximately 3:00pm bus heads back to the hotel.

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 activities!

Lodging: Holiday Inn-Lakewood Ranch

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Hotel is located on Lake Osprey in the Nationally Renowned Master Planned Community of Lakewood Ranch, minutes from many of the area attractions. Close to restaurants, a hospital, pharmacy, grocery stores, movie theaters, hair salons etc., some within walking distance.

Contact info:
6231 Lake Osprey Drive
Sarasota, FL 34240 USA
phone: 941-782-4400
web: www.hilr.com

Room amenities: In room coffeemakers, refrigerator, microwave, hair dryers, iron and ironing board, data ports, 2 two-line phones, desk, ergonomic chair, high speed Internet service, plug in or wireless, color TV/remote, in-room pay movies, cable/HBO, alarm clock radio.

Facility amenities: Hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool/spa, fitness center, full service restaurant, cocktail lounge, room service, on site laundry facilities, free parking.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Call for Road Scholar rates.
Please make reservations as soon as possible this hotel fills up quickly during season. Please call the hotel directly at 941-782-4400 not the national toll free number in order to receive the AAA discounted rate.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Five: Thursday, March 26 - Myakka River State Park Field Trip all day. Eveni...
Myakka River State Park Field Trip all day. Evening, compare all of your birding finds with other students.

Note: Morning trip to Myakka, participants must be able to walk on uneven surfaces up to two miles at a 2.0 mph pace over the course of the day. Canopy walkway involves a swinging bridge and five stories of stairs. There are benches if participants do not wish to climb the tower.

Breakfast: Early morning hot breakfast buffet available after 6:00pm. Please be ready to depart for the field trip by 7:30am.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We will spend the day exploring Myakka River State Park. shallow lakes, wetlands and diversity of habitats account for well over 100 birds species are recorded as common or abundant on the park's bird list; including Roseate Spoonbills, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Red Shouldered Hawks. Shorebird species including Long billed Dowitchers, Black Necked Stilts, Caspian Terns, Forsters Terns are seen frequently as well as some diving and dabbling ducks. We will visit the aptly named Alligator Bridge, the Weir, the Fishing Pier and the Birdwalk. Understand how invasion of plans and animals species has affected bird life on the lakes.

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 Ranch

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day Six: Friday, March 27 - Celery Fields Field Trip, Program Concludes
Note: The Celery Fields require less than 3/4 of a mile walking.

Breakfast: Early morning continental breakfast available after 6:30am. Please be ready to depart for the field trip by 7:30am.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We rise early and travel to the Celery Fields to observe waking birds, marsh birds, ducks, and raptors. In early 2001, Sarasota Audubon began conducting bird surveys at the Fields where, to date, 206 species have been recorded. Mainly consisting of open marshlands, deep ponds, shallow pools, and canals, the Celery Fields are edged by oaks, willows, and pines on the eastern and southern boundaries.
Wintertime offers particularly good birding, hosting up to eight species of sparrows, Marsh and Sedge Wrens, and several species of rails, including Sora and Virginia. The Fields also host breeding birds, including Black-neck Stilts, King Rail, Least Bittern, Limpkin, Eastern Towhee, Barn Owl and Eastern Meadowlark. Least Terns breed on nearby buildings and use the ponds as a primary food course. Rarities can show up from time to time, including Upland and White-rumped Sandpipers, Short-eared Owl and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow. A flock of wild Monk or Black Hooded Parakeets is always a possibility.
WRAP-UP: After returning to the hotel, we’ll have a wrap-up discussion of birds observed at the Celery Fields and say farewell to new-found friends.
The program concludes with this final presentation by approximately 11:30am. Hotel check-out is by 12:00 Noon.

Lunch: Box lunches are provided and available for those who need to depart early. Opportunity to make your own deli sandwich. If you wish to stay and have your lunch after the final presentation, you may eat in our private room or on the patio by the pool.
We hope you have enjoyed this new learning adventure and will join us for other rewarding Road Scholar programs in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch


Free Time Opportunities


Sarasota, FL
Sarasota attractionsSarasota is known as the cultural arts center of Florida. The area has a plethora of activities: Selby Botanical Gardens, Ringling Museum of Art, Mote Marine Aquarium, Historic Spanish Point, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Florida WestCoast Symphony, Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, Sarasota Ballet Co., Asolo Theatre Co. The area also offers several high quality beaches, boat rentals, water skiing, canoeing and kayaking. Hiking in two local state parks. Sarasota Polo grounds are close to hotel.
For additional information, visit: www.sarasotafl.org

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
5 nights of accommodations
14 meals: 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners
5 Expert-led lectures
10 Field trips

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5
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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