11908
Florida
Birding Southwest Florida, Sanibel and the Everglades
Discover renowned birding in Southwest Florida alongside experts as you explore beaches, swamps, mangroves and islands in search of the region’s rare and beautiful birds.
Rating (4.77)
Program No. 11908RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,499
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Ft. Myers/Estero
D
Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center

Activity note: A complimentary shuttle provided by the hotel will be provided from Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) to the hotel. Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table [in the lobby, on a specific floor, outside the meeting room, wherever it may be] to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, Bird Quiz, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Unless otherwise specified, the Group Leader will lead all lectures, field trips and birding exercises. Transportation will be provided by passenger vans unless otherwise noted. As wildlife is unpredictable, changes in times and locations may occur, even at last minute. A final itinerary will be distributed at the last minute. Each evening, we will review the bird sightings of the day as a group and assess the plans for the following day. Meals at restaurants will be plated and served dishes featuring regional specialties with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water included unless otherwise noted. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: We’ll drive to a favorite local restaurant for a plated meal featuring regional dishes with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll watch a brilliant documentary film about Big Cypress National Preserve in the Western Everglades, one of America’s national treasures. Also known as Big Cypress Swamp, this was the first national preserve to be established in America and it protects over 729,000 acres of swampland containing vast arrays of plant and animal life. Our viewing will be followed by a group discussion facilitated by our Group Leader. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the full day ahead.

DAY
2
heck-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Ft. Myers/Estero
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles, approximately 2.5 hours, on boardwalks, uneven terrain and sand. The drive is approximately 45 miles, about 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a breakfast buffet with options including an egg dish, breakfast meats, a variety of breakfast breads with assorted jams, cereals, coffee, tea, juice and water.

Morning: Departing via passenger van from the hotel, we’ll set out for the restored Cypress Swamp in Eagle Lakes Community Park with our Group Leader and a local expert for an early birding session. A series of water management ponds host a variety of marsh birds including Anhingas, Green Herons, Blue-winged Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, and more.

Lunch: At Eagle Lakes Park, we’ll have delicious and healthy picnic lunch of make-your-own sandwiches or salads.

Afternoon: We’ll then transfer by van to Freedom Park and Naples Beaches. Right in the heart of Naples, this park includes a 5-acre lake with approximately 3,500 feet of boardwalk constructed throughout the park for optimal viewing and enjoyment without the worry of stressing the natural environment. The wetlands in the area have been restored by the removal of exotic vegetation and planting of native species. We’ll explore these boardwalks with our Group Leader keeping an eye out for birds and other coastal wildlife.

Dinner: At local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll review the day's bird sightings and assess our prospects for the following day. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
3
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Boardwalk Trail
Ft. Myers/Estero
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles, approximately 1.5 hours, primarily on easy terrain and boardwalks. The drive is approx. 50 miles, about 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our first field trip of the day will be to Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary where passerines, herons and limpkins are often spotted. Our early birding session will take us on paths through terrain including an old growth cypress swamp, some freshwater marsh and pine flatwoods.

Lunch: At a comfortable resting point at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, we’ll have a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: At the Corkscrew Visitor Center, the director will give us a lecture explaining the intricacies of wood stork habitat restoration and other wildlife management issues that the sanctuary faces. After the lecture, we’ll head to the agricultural area of the sanctuary where we will be on the lookout for crested caracara and limpkins.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: While still at the restaurant, we’ll review the day's bird sightings and lay out our prospects for the following day. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure

DAY
4
Birding at Lovers Key State Park, 6 Mile Cypress Boardwalk
Ft. Myers/Estero
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles, approximately 2.5 hours, on uneven terrain, sand, and boardwalks. The drive is approx. 60 miles, about 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Lovers Key State Park ranges from the Estero Bay mudflats to the Gulf of Mexico encompassing a wide array of habitats including tidal creeks, lagoons, mangrove swamps, and tropical hammocks. After our arrival via van, we’ll walk the trail loops on Black Island with our Group Leader through the hammocks searching for red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles and ospreys overhead.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll enjoy another delicious and fresh picnic lunch.

Afternoon: We’ll then transfer to Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve Boardwalk in Fort Meyers, which is home to a variety of warblers, woodpeckers, herons and waterfowl. The mixed topography of open ponds and cypress swamps invites varieties of birds that are inclined to each of these different habitats, thereby facilitating rich experiences for us bird watchers.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Bunche Beach Birding, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Ft. Myers/Estero
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles, about 2 hours, primarily on sand and boardwalks. The drive is approx. 65 miles, about 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll depart from the hotel early for transfer to Bunche Beach, a wonderful place to see hundreds of waders and particularly shorebirds (mostly in winter). Reddish Egrets are quite common and all five plovers can be seen here regularly as well as marbled godwit, whimbrel, roseate spoonbill, black skimmer, and peeps (various sandpipers). If we’re lucky, we may spot some long-billed curlew, common loons (in winter), and American white pelicans or perhaps even rarities like a surf scoter or a pomarine jaegar.

Lunch: At Bowman's Beach Park, we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: After transferring by van, we’ll carry on birding at J.N “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, one of the first national wildlife refuges established in the USA. Located on Sanibel Island, it offers birders easy opportunities to view American White Pelicans, especially in winter, wading birds including Roseate Spoonbills, and shorebirds. There are birding platforms throughout and overlooks, such as Red Mangrove Overlook, where one may be fortunate enough to see a Mangrove Cuckoo although they are typically seen in the late spring through mid-summer in this area.

Dinner: At local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a farewell plated dinner as we share our favorite experiences and sightings from the week with New Road Scholar friends.

Evening: We’ll gather in the hotel lobby for our review of the birds we saw today and to outline prospects for following day. We will also ago over the answers to the Bird Identification Quiz together as part of our program wrap-up. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
6
Harns Marsh, Program Concludes
Ft. Myers/Estero
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. Walking about a ½ mile, approximately 45 minutes, primarily on boardwalks. The drive is approx. 25 miles, about 1 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will head out to Harns Marsh for our final field trip of the program. Established in the early 1980’s, its primary function is that of an active stormwater facility. Although technically not a wildlife preserve or state park, Harns Marsh hosts a vast wildlife population and holds itself to high standards for water quality and conservation. As of 12/09/2014, 122 different species of birds have been sighted at this marsh. On our birding walk we will find a variety of water birds, most likely including Snail Kites and Limpkins, which feed on abundant Apple Snails. Egrets and Herons, as well as ducks, Coots, and Moorhens, are frequently sighted also. We’ll then return to the hotel. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Lunch: Return to Hotel.






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