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Fort Myers Birdwatching

Join us on a 6-day Professionally Guided Birding Adventure

Overview

This 6-day program will appeal to beginners and intermediate birders and provides an excellent opportunity for Non-Floridians to get a “lifer” or two.  All guides are or have been members of the Audubon Society and group leaders are also Florida Master Naturalists. 

Anhingas, Egrets, Ibis, Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Sandhill Cranes, Crested Caracaras, Ospreys, Bald Eagles, Pileated Woodpeckers, and Limpkins.  South West Florida is a paradise of birding experiences with over 350 resident species and hundreds of more transients. 

Field trips are designed to experience different habitats that support widely different birds.  For example, during nesting season the Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Sanctuary has the nation’s largest rookery of the endangered Wood Storks.  Areas most likely visited will be Audubon’s Corkscrew Sanctuary; Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge; Six Mile Cypress; Tiger Tail and Sand Dollar Beaches on Marco Island; the Picayune Strand State Forest, the Fakahatchee State Preserve, and the Big Cypress National Preserve. 

Your tour director will provide narration about the many and varied habitats you will be visiting and how population growth has affected the area and the birds that live there.  

Dinners are leisurely at local family-style restaurants, field trip lunches are picnic style/or local restaurants and breakfasts are at the hotel.

Our Program

Unless otherwise specified, the Group Leader will lead all lectures, field trips, and birding exercises. Transportation throughout the program will be provided by passenger vans unless otherwise noted. As wildlife is unpredictable, changes in times and locations may occur, even at the 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.

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.

Small Group

Meals at restaurants will be plated and served dishes featuring regional specialties with soft drinks, coffee, tea and water included unless otherwise noted.

STARTING AT

$1,463

SINGLE: $2,058

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Meals at local restaurants

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5 Nights of Lodging

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10 Expert-led field trips

Itinerary

DAY 1: ORIENTATION

AFTERNOON:

Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone at 5:00 pm at Hotel Lobby 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.

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.

DAY 2: HARNS MARSH

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:

We will head out to Harns Marsh for our first field trip of the program. Established in the early 1980s, 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.

LUNCH:

At a local restaurant

AFTERNOON:

Return to hotel, free afternoon

DINNER:

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

DAY 3: CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY

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:

Lunch Box.

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

DAY 4: BUNCHE BEACH BIRDING, DING DARLING NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

BREAKFAST:

At the hotel.

MORNING:

We’ll depart from the hotel early for a 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 surf scoter or a pomarine jaeger.

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 a local restaurant.

DAY 5: LOVERS KEYS

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:

Drive to  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:

At a local restaurant.

AFTERNOON:

We’ll then ride to Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve Boardwalk in Fort Myers, 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.

DAY 6: END OF TOUR

BREAKFAST:

At the hotel.

MORNING:

End of tour.

Lodging

HOLIDAY INN FORT MYERS AIRPORT AT TOWN CENTER

UNIQUE FEATURES

The Holiday Inn Ft. Myers is Ideally located near Interstate 75 in Ft. Myers, Florida, our hotel is two miles from Southwest Florida International Airport and two miles from Florida Gulf Coast University. The Gulf Coast Town Center is within walking distance. Guests of our Fort Myers accommodations can enjoy easy access to Ft. Myers’ attractions.

FACILITY AMENITIES:

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Nightly happy hour with fresh tropical drinks, food and beverage discounts

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Prime rib special every Tuesday night

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Jazzy Friday-Live music, complimentary made-to-order pasta bar

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Complimentary fresh fruit infused water of the day

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Heated outdoor pool & hot spa

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Lakeside outdoor patio with fire pit & lounge style seating

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ATM

N

Safety deposit boxes

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24-Hour laundry facility

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24-Hour business center with computers, printers, fax and copier

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24-Hour fitness center with an elliptical, treadmill, recumbent bike, free weights, weight training machine, and 54” flat-screen TV

TRANSPORTATION INFORMATION:

Transportation from RSW to Holiday Inn by Holiday Inn Fort Myers Town Center Hotel Shuttle Tel: 239-561-1550

ROOM AMENITIES:

Complimentary Wired & Wireless Internet Access
32” Flat-Screen LCD TVs with Cable 
Pillow-Top Mattresses with Triple Sheeting & Choice of Six Pillow Types
Large Work Desks with Ergonomic Chairs & Flexible Lamps
Free Local Calls
Microwaves, Refrigerators & Coffeemakers
Hair Dryers
Irons & Ironing Boards
In-Room Temperature Controls
Right… On Time™ Room Service
Bath & Body Works® Signature Bath Products

What’s Included

5 Nights of accommodations

14 Meals (5B, 4L, 5D)

1 Expert-led lecture

10 Expert-led field trips

An experienced Group Leader

Customary gratuities

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