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: Oscar Scherer State Park. We'll hike into the park to search for the rare and endangered Florida Scrub Jay a bold, curious bird restricted to the rare oak scrub community, a habitat under constant threat of development. The Florida Scrub Jay is classified as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Oscar Scherer State Park is one of the few places in the state with sufficient scrubby flatwoods to maintain a healthy population of Scrub Jays. The park focuses on preserving Florida's pine and scrubby flatwoods, once widespread throughout Sarasota County.
Learn how efforts of volunteers and professionals are helping these birds to survive. In addition to wildlife viewing, 15 miles of trails through these beautiful natural areas provide opportunities for hiking and bicycling.
Other birds you may see in the park are Bald Eagles, Ospreys, warblers, woodpeckers, egrets, and the Great Blue and Little Blue Herons. Don't be surprised if you see an alligator in the 3-acre fresh water Lake Osprey.
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, Oscar Scherer State Park, Myakka River State Park, Pinecraft Park 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 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 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 RanchMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
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: Board bus to Laural Landfill where participants can observe bald eagles.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