Birding Hot Spots: The Wild Side of Sarasota
See why Sarasota is a top birding destinations in the US as you join experts to search for whistling ducks, wood storks, scrub jays and more in the habitats of the Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Program No. 19349RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 5 L 4 D
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Sarasota, FL
EVEN Hotel

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. (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.

Siesta Key Beach, Lake Osprey Walk, Gulls presentation
Sarasota, FL
EVEN Hotel

Activity note: Walk behind hotel to Lake Osprey, limited walking. Siesta Key Beach: 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: FIELD TRIP: Our first trip will be to 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: Lunch is catered by the hotel restaurant in our private room.

Afternoon: PRESENTATION: Our birding expert will provide an overview of Sandpipers and Gulls through a power point presentation. FIELD TRIP: We will take 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.

Dinner: Dinner is catered by the hotel restaurant in our private room.

Evening: Enjoy a class related birding video.

Fort DeSoto State Park
Sarasota, FL
EVEN Hotel

Activity 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: Class Discussion. Share your favorite birding adventures with your classmates.

Celery Fields, Birds of Sarasota presentation, Free Evening
Sarasota, FL
EVEN Hotel

Activity note: Celery Fields field trip participants would need to be able to walk on uneven sand conditions, wet, dry or loose.

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 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.

Lunch: Picnic lunch at a park.

Afternoon: PRESENTATION: Visit the Nature Center at Celery Fields and view a presentation on "Birds of Sarasota." FIELD TRIP: Continue exploring the Celery Fields and Palmer Lake. 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!

Myakka River State Park, Evening Birding Comparisons
Sarasota, FL
EVEN Hotel

Activity 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.

Oscar Scherer Field Trip, Program Concludes
Sarasota, FL

Activity note: Walk on uneven surfaces up to 2 miles at a 2.0 mph pace over the course of the day.

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

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Our first stop of the afternoon will be Oscar Scherer State Park. This park will introduce you to large areas of scrubby flatwoods, home to one of the densest populations of Florida scrub-jays in southwest Florida. The scrub-jays share this park with nesting bald eagles, and sandhill cranes even raise their young in the northernmost part of the park. Warblers and vireos also settle into the canopy to feed in this oasis. 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. br> WRAP-UP: After returning to the hotel, we’ll have a wrap-up discussion of birds observed at the Oscar Scherer 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!

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