Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m. Complimentary shuttle available from Miami Airport to hotel.
Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table at the Orientation session [please ask the front desk for the specific location] to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes. 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. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Unless specified otherwise, all transportation will be provided via passengers vans. Our Group Leader will lead all field trips unless otherwise noted. Evenings will often include a review of the day’s sightings and an introduction to the activities for the following day with the remainder of the night at leisure. Meals at local restaurants will have plated table service of regional dishes from a select menu with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase. 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 be changed due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: At local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated meal from a select menu with soft drinks, iced tea, and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead.
Activity note: Hiking about 2 miles on uneven terrain. Total driving distance is about 88 miles, approximately 2.5 hours.
Breakfast: At the hotel, choose from a variety of hot and lighter breakfast options including hot and cold cereals, fresh fruit, breakfast breads and pastries, an egg dish, juice, coffee, tea and water.
Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board our van and set out for the Everglades for a morning of birding at the Anhinga Trail and the Pine Island Area. Led by our Group Leader, we’ll go for a walk along the Anhinga Trail while learning about local animals and the impact of human development on the ecosystem of the Everglades.
Lunch: At the park, we’ll have a delicious and healthy picnic lunch including fresh salad and/or sandwiches.
Afternoon: We’ll then finish up our time at the Pine Island Area and transfer to Marathon. Along the way, we will have some other birding opportunities at Duck Key and Isla Morada so be sure to keep an eye out! Upon arrival, we will check into the hotel with some time to relax and freshen up before dinner.
Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal from a select menu with soft drinks, iced tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At the hotel each evening, we’ll review the day's birding activities and outline the destinations for the following day. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure.
Activity note: Walking about 2 miles on a combination of uneven terrain and boardwalks.
Breakfast: At the hotel, a bountiful breakfast buffet will include many choices including an egg dish, breakfast meats, pastries and breads, yogurt, hot and cold cereals, coffee, tea and water.
Morning: We’ll embark on a field trip to Long Key State Park where white-crowned pigeons and the rare Key West Quail Doves can be spotted. Most migratory songbirds, including warblers, vireos and thrushes migrate at night, guided by the stars, landmarks and the earth’s magnetic fields. During the peak of migration, hundreds of songbirds can be heard and seen at first light, arriving from their flights over the Gulf and Florida Bay waters to make landfall in the Florida Keys. We will walk the Golden Orb trail through the park led by our knowledgeable Group Leader.
Lunch: At the park, we’ll enjoy a delicious and healthy lunch including fresh salad and/or sandwiches.
Afternoon: We’ll then continue our bird search along the coastal Layton Trail, abundant with plant and animal life. Once we complete our walk, we will board the van and transfer back to Marathon.
Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Walking about 2 miles on a combination of uneven terrain and boardwalks. Driving about 52 miles, approximately 1.5 hours.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll transfer to a field trip to Bahia Honda, one of the most productive shorebird sites in the Keys. The 3 mile beach supports a diverse array of species including reddish egret, short-billed dowitcher, piping plover and blackbellied plover. We’ll join a Florida Park Service Biologist to observe and learn about the shorebird species that utilize the park before assisting her in conducting a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Non-breeding Shorebird Survey as citizen scientists.
Lunch: At the park, we’ll enjoy a lunch of salads and sandwiches.
Afternoon: Carrying on to Key West, we’ll make stops at Summerland Key, Sugarloaf Key, and Key Deer Sanctuary where local experts will lead us to some of the most famous birding spots in the region while providing commentary on the local area’s ecological characteristics. We will check into the hotel upon arrival in the mid afternoon.
Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles on terrain of varying smoothness and some sandy trails. Early embarkation before breakfast to walk to the Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry; getting on/ferry; indoor air conditioning and outdoor seating on this 150 passenger catamaran for the 2.5 hour ride.
Breakfast: Aboard the ship, we’ll have a breakfast buffet including bagels, cereal, yogurt, fruits, juices, coffee, tea and water.
Morning: En route to Dry Tortugas National Park, our onboard naturalist will give provide an orientation lecture on the area and the national park's surroundings. During our voyage, we will enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Marquesa Islands, Boca Grande, and have the possibility to see turtles and dolphins while listening to pirate legends.
Lunch: Aboard the catamaran, we’ll enjoy a buffet lunch.
Afternoon: Continue birding in the park. The Dry Tortugas play an important part in the lives of birds migrating between South America and the eastern United States because they are the first bits of dry land that these birds see during that trip. Many birds even die of starvation en route. Birders may be so lucky as to see an Antillean short-eared owl, sighted fairly frequently, as well as peregrine falcons, warblers, ruddy turnstones, and frigatebirds. The only nesting colony of Magnificent Frigatebirds in North America resides on these islands along with the largest Sooty Tern colony in the Northern Hemisphere on nearby Bush Key with some Brown Noddies.
Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Sample something from the many restaurants Key West has to offer.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Walking about 2 miles on a combination of uneven, sandy, and boardwalk terrain. Driving about 98 miles with stops along the way, approximately 2 hours.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: To begin, we’ll check out of the hotel and transfer to Fort Zachary Taylor for a field trip led by a park ranger. We’ll learn about Florida's southernmost state park, U.S. Military history of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, and the role that Fort Zachary Taylor played in it. The fort was built in the mid-1800s and completed in 1866 as one of a series designed to defend the nation's southeastern coastline. Afterwards, we’ll hit the sand at the Key West Beach Area for a birding walk with our Group Leader and a local expert.
Lunch: At the park for a lunch of salads and sandwiches.
Afternoon: We’ll travel to Widley Key Fossil Reef State Park for a field trip where we will walk along 8-foot-high quarry walls to see cross sections of ancient coral. Led by a local expert, we’ll learn about the history of the quarry and its operation—an important part of Florida's 20th century history—as we walk among samples of the quarry machinery that has been preserved at the park. We’ll then carry on to check-in at the hotel and have some time to freshen up before our farewell dinner.
Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 7:00 a.m. Walking about 1.5 miles on paved terrain and boardwalks. Driving about 70 miles, approximately 1.5 hours.
Breakfast: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal including juice, coffee, tea and water.
Morning: After breakfast, we’ll begin our transfer to Miami Airport with a stop on the way to the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park where we will enjoy our final field trip of the program. Led by our Group Leader on some trails, we may find breeding populations of white-crowned pigeons, black-whiskered vireos, mangrove cuckoos and, if we are lucky, migrating warblers. Sightings of the Zenaida dove, thick-billed vireo and the rare LaSagra's flycatcher are also documented. We’ll then continue our transfer to the airport. 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!