Birdapalooza
Birding Festival

Field Trip Locations
and Possible Sightings

 

Download Schedule pdfs:

At a Glance Schedule
Full Schedule

 

 

01/18/2018: Thursday

Pre-festival
Thursday Keynote Speaker

 

Gian Basili, U.S. FIsh and Wildlife Service
It takes a Village: A Story of the People, Partnerships, and Perseverance on Lake Apopka’s North Shore


Harry Harry P. Leu Gardens, Camellia Room, 1920 N. Forest Avenue, Orlando, FL. The meet-and-greet with light refreshments (no dinner) and opportunity to purchase nature-inspired merchandise starts at 6:15 p.m. and the program starts at 7:00 p.m. Free, but $5 donations at the door are appreciated.

 

Dr. Gian Basili is an ornithologist and conservation biologist who was one of the people most responsible for guiding restoration efforts on the Lake Apopka North Shore and for opening the area to birding and other passive recreational use. The Lake Apopka North Shore with 360+ species rivals any inland sight in North America and is an Important Bird Area designated by the American Bird Conservancy.

 

This program, which was last year’s Birdapalooza Birding Festival Friday Keynote, was fascinating―an important talk because the Lake Apopka North Shore, its history, restoration challenges and successes, and its future are integral to the abundant bird and other wildlife species found there. By popular demand Gian will present this talk as Orange Audubon Society’s monthly program and all Birdapalooza participants are invited to attend. See Gian Basili’s bio under the Speakers and Leaders tab. Gian will also be leading Friday all-day Trip 5.

 

01/19/2018: Friday

Trip 1

Sunrise Photography and Birding – Mostly driving, some walking

 

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $30, includes lunch. Leaders: Lynn Marie Folts (Orange Audubon Society) and Scott Simmons (Learn Outdoor Photography).  5:30 a.m.‒11:00 a.m. Maximum participants: 20.   Lake Apopka has remarkable opportunities for sunrises from northern locations like Clay Island, and sunsets from Magnolia Park in Apopka and Newton Park in Winter Garden. Sunrise will occur at 7:19 a.m. on this date.  We will meet at the McDonald Canal Pavilion at 5:30 a.m. (it takes a while to drive to the lake shore). We will drive through normally locked gates to a tower overlooking beautiful Lake Apopka. Your trip leaders will provide both photo and bird identification tips at sunrise and throughout the morning (See Trip 4 for possible sightings.) The trip includes lunch back at the McDonald Canal Pavilion, which will allow you to conveniently participate in an afternoon trip (Trip 7 starts from the same location and Trip 8 starts about 35 minutes’ drive away).

 

Trip 2

Sparrows, Buntings, and other Wintering Birds – Mostly walking

 

Ferndale Preserve, 19220 County Rd 455, Clermont, FL 34715. Meet at the preserve. $30. Leaders: Gallus Quigley (Florida Ornithological Society) and Becki Smith (Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society).  7:30 a.m.11:00 a.m. Maximum participants: 25.  Ferndale Preserve is a 192-acre Lake County Preserve on the western shore of Lake Apopka a few miles from Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest point in peninsular Florida. The preserve has a mix of red maple-dominated wetlands, remnant oak hammocks, and other habitats in various stages of restoration. Over 190 bird species have been recorded in the area. This trip can be taken in combination with afternoon Trips 7 or 8.  Lunch will be served at the McDonald Canal Pavilion, about 20 minutes’ drive from Ferndale Preserve and the starting place for afternoon Trip 7. If you are taking afternoon Trip 8, it is about 45 minutes’ drive from Ferndale to Seminole State Forest in a very rural area without convenient places to buy food, and the McDonald Canal Pavilion is basically on the way. Possible sightings include Le Conte’s and Clay-colored Sparrows, Savannah, Swamp, Vesper, and Grasshopper Sparrows and others of 12 sparrow species recorded here, as well as other wintering songbirds.

 

Trip 3

Waterfowl ID Field Workshop Mostly driving, some walking
McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $30, includes lunch. Leaders:
Bruce Anderson  (Florida Ornithological  Society) and Tom Rodriguez (Orange Audubon Society). 7:30 a.m.11:30 a.m.   Maximum participants: 25.  Traverse the canals, wetlands and shore of the Lake Apopka North Shore in search of ducks and other waterfowl.  Your trip leaders will point out field marks to identify each species and distinguish the often brightly colored and distinctly patterned drakes and the often plainer and not-always-so-easy-to-identify hens. Information about migration and molting cycles will be shared. The trip includes lunch back at the McDonald Canal Pavilion, which will allow you to conveniently participate in an afternoon trip (Trip 7 starts from the McDonald Canal Pavilion; Trip 8 starts approximately 35 minutes’ drive from the McDonald Canal Pavilion).

Possible sightings include Fulvous Whistling Duck, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Wood Duck, and Mottled Duck, seen in the Lake Apopka North Shore wetlands throughout the year, plus winter ducks, such as  Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, and Lesser Scaup. We will likely see Common Gallinule, American Coot, and Pied-billed Grebe, and will search for the less common Purple Gallinule. We may also turn up a Horned Grebe or Common Loon.

 

 

Trip 4

Birding Lake Apopka North Shore Mostly driving, some walking.
All day, McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $50, includes lunch. Leaders:
Greg Miller (Wildside Nature Tours), Lorne Malo ( Orange Audubon Society),  and other local leaders. 7:30 a.m.‒4:00 p.m. The trip includes lunch back at the McDonald Canal Pavilion. After this field trip work your way over to the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (approximately 35 minutes’ drive away) for a meet-and-greet, Friday Keynote speaker and dinner.

Possible sightings include Sora, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Wood Stork, American Bittern, Sandhill Crane, Wood Duck, Mottled Duck, and Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling-Duck, along with most of North America’s wading bird species. The trip will traverse the canals and wetlands of the Lake Apopka North Shore and the lakeshore in search of ducks and possibly loons and grebes. We will see many of the waterfowl listed under Trip 3. Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Barn Owl, American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon are raptors typically seen. Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Ovenbird are target warblers. Other possible sightings are Roseate Spoonbill, Black Skimmer, and American Avocet. While most Black-necked Stilts and Least Bitterns are on their more southerly wintering grounds, some are recorded here each year on Christmas Bird Counts. As many as 13 sparrow species have been seen, including rarities like LeConte’s and Clay-colored. Unique flycatcher species like Ash-throated, Western, Cassin’s, Tropical, Scissor-tailed, and Vermillion, as well as Say’s Phoebe and White-faced Ibis are out-of-range birds that have been repeatedly seen, and Groove-billed Anis have been seen each winter starting in 2015. With such a large restoration area on the shore of Florida’s 4th largest lake, off-course rarities frequently show up. Past rarities have also included Rough-legged Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Eurasian Kestrel, Wilson’s Phalarope, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Whooping Crane, White-cheeked Pintail, and Ross’ Goose. With skilled leaders and many eyes, we will be searching for what has turned up.

 

 

Trip 5

Birding Lake Apopka North Shore Mostly driving, some walking

 

All day, McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $50, includes lunch. Leaders: David Simpson (Birding with David Simpson), Gian Basili (Florida Ornithological Society), and other local leaders. 7:30 a.m.‒4:00 p.m.  Maximum participants: 25.  The trip includes lunch back at the McDonald Canal Pavilion. After this field trip work your way over to the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (approximately 35 minutes’ drive away) for a meet-and-greet, Friday Keynote speaker and dinner. For possible sightings see Trip 4.

 

 

Trip 6

Digiscoping Workshop – Mostly driving, a minimum of walking

 

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $20. Leaders: Leader: Robert Wilson (Kowa Optics).  12:30 p.m.‒3:00 p.mMaximum participants: 20.  This afternoon field trip from the McDonald Canal Pavilion to several North Shore locations will allow you to learn from an expert how to take great photos through a spotting scope. Digiscoping—attaching a camera or smart phone to a spotting scope—minimizes impact on wildlife with extended focal lengths and eliminates the challenge of manual focus. Bring your own scope or request a loaner upon registration (some limits on availability).

Possible sightings: Wading birds are great subjects on which to focus, and Red-shouldered Hawks and Ospreys are common here. For other possible sightings see Trip 4. The early end time on this trip allows you time to bird on your own and then work your way over to the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center for a 4:30 p.m. meet-and-greet, dinner and Friday Keynote speaker Michael Brothers.

 

 

Trip 7

Raptors of the North Shore – Mostly driving, a minimum of walking

 

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $20. Leaders: Bob Sanders (Orange Audubon Society) and Larry Martin (Orange Audubon Society). 12:30 p.m.‒4:00 p.m. Maximum participants: 25.  The Lake Apopka North Shore, with marshes and grasslands that support rodents, gallinules and other prey, hosts many wintering and resident raptors (birds of prey).  
Possible sightings
include Osprey and Bald Eagle, plus American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks. Other possible sightings include Short-tailed and Broad-winged Hawks. Past rarities have included Krider’s Red-Tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Eurasian Kestrel, and Golden Eagle.  After this field trip, work your way over to the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (approximately 35 minutes’ drive away) for a meet-and-greet, Friday Keynote speaker Michael Brothers and dinner.

 

Trip 8

Scrub-Jays and other Pineland Species Mostly driving, some walking

 

Seminole State Forest, south entrance, SR 46, just west of Wekiva River bridge, approximately 14 miles west of Sanford. $20. Leaders: Ralph Risch (Florida Division of Forestry) and Becki Smith (Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society).  1:00 p.m.‒4:00 p.m.

Maximum participants: 25.  The endemic Florida Scrub-Jay is restricted to Florida’s ever-decreasing sand pine scrub habitat. The 25,812-acre Seminole State Forest hosts the nearest relatively stable population of this friendly and charismatic bird. After everyone gets up close and personal with scrub-jays, the group will search for other species throughout the afternoon.

Possible sightings include Sandhill Crane, Wild Turkey, Eastern Towhee and pineland specialties such as Bachman’s Sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. After this field trip, work your way over to the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (approximately 35 minutes’ drive away) for a meet-and-greet, Friday Keynote speaker and dinner.

 

Friday Keynote Speaker

 

 

Michael Brothers (Marine Science Center, Volusia County)

Gulls and Terns

University of Florida Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, 2725 S. Binion Rd., Apopka, FL 32703. $20, includes dinner.  4:30 p.m.‒8:00 p.m. Maximum participants: 25.  This enthusiastic expert will present everything you could possibly want to know about gulls and terns and their stages. Michael will inform us about breeding and wintering gull and tern biology and about the amazing evening gathering of tens of thousands of gulls at Daytona Beach Shores. This is a not-to-be-missed talk. Read more about Michael Brothers under the Speakers and Leaders tab. Meet-and-greet starts at 4:30 p.m., dinner starts at 5:30 p.m., and the talk starts at 6 p.m.  Caterer TBA. Vegetarian options available.

 

01/20/2018: Saturday

 

Trip 9

Sunrise Photography and Birding – Mostly driving, some walking

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $30, includes lunch. Leaders: Milton Heiberg (Orange Audubon Society) and Earl Horn (Florida Ornithological Society).  5:30 a.m.‒11:00 a.m. Maximum participants: 20.   Lake Apopka has remarkable opportunities for sunrises from northern locations like Clay Island, and sunsets from Magnolia Park in Apopka and Newton Park in Winter Garden. Sunrise will occur at 7:19 a.m. on this date.  We will meet at the McDonald Canal Pavilion at 5:30 a.m. (it takes a while to drive to the lake shore). We will drive through normally locked gates to a tower overlooking beautiful Lake Apopka. Your trip leaders will provide both photo and bird identification tips at sunrise and throughout the morning (See Trip 4 for possible sightings.) The trip includes lunch back at the McDonald Canal Pavilion, which will allow you to conveniently participate in an afternoon trip.

 

Trip 10

Ocala National Forest Woodpecker Extravaganza  Mostly walking

Clearwater Lake Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest, near Paisley. $30, includes lunch. Leaders: Gallus Quigley (Florida Ornithological Society) and Becki Smith (Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society).  5:30 a.m.‒11:00 a.m. Maximum participants: 25. The well-burned pine forests of the Ocala National Forest host all of the species of woodpecker that breed or winter in Florida. Possible sightings: The target species will be the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, but we will also search for Red-headed, Red-bellied, Pileated, Downy, and Hairy Woodpeckers, as well as Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Northern Flickers. Brown-headed Nuthatches and Bachman’s Sparrows are other Southern pine land specialties that we should be able to find, and possibly other sparrows and winter songbirds). This trip can be taken in combination with afternoon trips. (Directions: From the junction of SR 42 and SR 19 in Altoona, north of Mount Dora, drive east on SR 42 towards Paisley. After 6.4 miles, you’ll see the entrance to the Clearwater Lake Recreation Area on your left).

 

Trip 11

Birding by Ear  Walking

 

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $30, includes lunch. Leaders: Greg Miller (Wildside Nature Tours), David Simpson (Birding with David Simpson), and Larry Martin (Orange Audubon Society).  7:00 a.m.‒11:00 a.m.   Maximum participants: 25. This walking field workshop goes along the Lake Apopka Loop Trail and will focus on recognizing birds by their sounds. Birds are not as vocal in January as in breeding season, but there are still many vocalizations that can help with identification. Trip tip: To get a head start on distinguishing species on this walk, you might review a tape of sounds of Common Gallinule, Red-winged Blackbird, and Boat-tailed Grackle, as these are our most vocal wetland species. See possible sightings under Trip 4.

 

Trip 12

Beginning Birding with the Simpsons  Walking

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $20.  Leaders: David Simpson (Birding with David Simpson) and Dee Simpson (Space Coast Audubon Society).  12:30 p.m.‒3:30 p.m.  Dee Simpson will start this walking field workshop with an easel-board orientation at the McDonald Canal Pavilion and then the group will walk about 2 miles. For possible sightings see Trip 4.  After this field trip, work your way over to the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center for a meet-and-greet starting at 4:30 p.m. followed by dinner and the keynote presentation.

 

 

Trip 13

Leader's Choice  Mostly driving some walking

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $20. Leaders: Chris Newton (Kissimmee Valley Audubon Society) and Greg Bretz (Orange Audubon Society).  12:30 p.m.‒4:00 p.m. This afternoon trip will look for exciting sightings of the previous days, at the discretion of your trip leaders. In addition to any of the possible sightings listed under Trip 4, this trip will include a visit to a site near Clermont where Florida Scrub-Jays live and a roost where Western Kingbirds have regularly occurred (and during some years, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers). The trip will end in time to work your way over to the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center for a meet-and-greet starting at 4:30 p.m. followed by dinner and the keynote presentation. However, you can stay at the roost site on your own to see the kingbirds, if you prefer.

 

Trip 14

Dora Canal Birding Boat Ride  Boating

Rusty Anchor - Dora Canal Tours, 400 W. 4th Avenue, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $40. Leader: Greg Miller (Wildside Nature Tours).  12:30 p.m.‒2:30 p.m. Maximum participants: 17.  We will travel with Captain Scott in his 38-foot pontoon boat across Lake Dora into the Dora Canal and back, with Greg Miller identifying birds and sharing information about them. Possible sightings include Ruddy Ducks, Wood Ducks, nesting Ospreys, Great Blue Herons (possibly nesting) and other wading birds, Bald Eagles, and wintering songbirds.

 

Saturday Keynote Speaker

 

Clay Taylor (Swarovski Optik)

40 Years of Birding Through a Camera Lens
University of Florida Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, 2725 S. Binion Rd., Apopka, FL 32703. $20, includes dinner.  4:30 p.m.‒8:00 p.mMaximum participants: 25.   In this Saturday Keynote, Clay will share bird photos taken over 4 decades, using both film and digital cameras, and talk about challenges encountered and solutions found.  Being the Naturalist Market Manager for Swarovski Optik has given him the opportunity to travel extensively. His camera is ALWAYS with him.  Oh, yes, his iPhone, too. Read more about Clay under the Speakers and Leaders tab. Meet-and-greet starts at 4:30 p.m. Dinner will be pizza and salad, vegetarian included. Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation at 6 p.m.

 

01/21/2018: Sunday

 

Trip 15

Sunrise Photography and BirdingMostly driving, some walking

 

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $30, includes lunch.  Leaders: Lynn Marie Folts (Orange Audubon Society) and Reinhard Geisler (Friends of Orlando Wetlands Park). 5:30 a.m.‒11:00 a.m. Maximum participants: 20. (See Trip 1 for more details.) This trip can be taken in combination with an afternoon trip that also meets at the McDonald Canal Pavilion. Your trip leaders will provide both photo and bird identification tips at sunrise and throughout the morning (See Trip 4 for possible sightings.) The trip includes lunch back at the McDonald Canal Pavilion, which will allow you to conveniently participate in an afternoon trip.

 

Trip 16

Bird Banding and Sandhill Specialties Mostly driving, some walking

 

 

Lake Lotus Park, 1153 Lake Lotus Park Road Altamonte Springs, FL 32714. $30, includes lunch. Leaders: Andrew Boyle (Wekiva Bird Banding Station), Deborah Green (Orange Audubon Society) and Kathy Rigling (Orange Audubon Society). 7:00 a.m.11:30 p.m. Maximum participants: 25. The Wekiva Bird Banding Station began in the 1990s, and now operates at Lake Lotus Park, a 150-acre park in Altamonte Springs. Over 75 species have been banded since the program began at Lake Lotus Park, with over 2,500 individual birds processed. Andrew Boyle, who leads the station, will demonstrate banding and explain what the station’s studies have shown about migration patterns and life cycles of the birds. The group will then caravan to Wekiwa Springs State Park (1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka, FL 32712), a 7,000-acre state park considered one of the crown jewels of Florida’s award-winning state park system. This trip can be taken in combination with afternoon trips and, for your convenience, a lunch is included with this trip.

Possible sightings: At Wekiwa we will look for pine land specialties, including Brown-headed Nuthatches, Bachman’s Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, Pine Warblers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and overwintering songbirds.

 

 

Trip 17

Birding Lake Apopka North ShoreMostly driving, some walking

 

All day, McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $50, includes lunch. Leaders: Greg Miller (Wildside Nature Tours), Gallus Quigley (Florida Ornithological Society),  and Becki Smith (Oklawaha Audubon Society).  7:30 a.m.4:00 p.m.   Maximum participants: 25.  See Trip 4 for possible sightings.

 

Trip 18

Birding Lake Apopka North ShoreMostly driving, some walking

 

All day, McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $50, includes lunch. Leaders: David Simpson (Birding with David Simpson), Lorne Malo (Orange Audubon Society), and other local leaders. 7:30 a.m.4:00 p.m.    Maximum participants: 25.  See Trip 4 for possible sightings.

 

Trip 19

Digiscoping Workshop–Mostly driving, some walking

 

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $20. Leaders: Clay Taylor (Swarovski Optik). 12:30 p.m.‒3:00 p.m.  Maximum participants: 20.  This afternoon field trip will allow you to learn from an expert how to take great photos through a spotting scope. Group will drive from the McDonald Canal Pavilion into several Lake Apopka North Shore locations. Bring your own scope or request a loaner upon registration. Possible sightings: Wading birds are great subjects on which to focus, and Red-shouldered Hawks and Ospreys are common here. For other possible sightings see Trip 4.

 

Trip 20

Recording What You See: ebirding and Checklists, Lake Apopka – Mostly driving, some walking

 

McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757. $20. Leaders:  Chris Newton (Kissimmee Valley Audubon Society) and Kathy Rigling (Orange Audubon Society).  12:30 p.m.‒4:00 p.m.  Maximum participants: 25.  On this afternoon field trip from the McDonald Canal Pavilion into various Lake Apopka North Shore locations, we will not only look for birds but also show you how to record your sightings on eBird and achieve recognition for levels of Florida birding achievement.  For possible sightings on this trip, see Trip 4, Birding Lake Apopka North Shore.

 

 

 

 

Schedule

 

 

University of Florida Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, 2725 S. Binion Rd., Apopka, FL 32703. $20, includes dinner.Maximum participants: 25.   In this Saturday Keynote, Clay will share bird photos taken over 4 decades, using both film and digital cameras, and talk about challenges encountered and solutions found.  Being the Naturalist Market Manager for Swarovski Optik has given him the opportunity to travel extensively. His camera is ALWAYS with him.  Oh, yes, his iPhone, too. Read more about Clay under the Speakers and Leaders tab. Meet-and-greet starts at 4:30 p.m. Dinner will be pizza and salad, vegetarian included. Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation at 6 p.m.