FLORIDA WINTER SPECIALITIES TOUR

Florida winter bird watching offers many advantages. First, for us folks coming from snowy regions, the mild climate, mid 70’s and sunny skies, provide a nice thawing out. Also, many birds found in the Caribbean and subtropical regions can be found in small numbers in Florida. Most of these birds are here year around. These restricted range species will be our targets for this Florida Winter Specialties Tour!

Florida with She Flew Birding Tours

Florida Scrub Jay

Bring your camera as the boardwalks, swamps and wetlands will provide fantastic opportunities for up-close viewing of waders and other terrific birds. There is nothing like seeing a Wood Stork landing in the mangrove just 10 feet from you! We’ll also keep an eye to the sky for Kites, Hawks and Frigatebirds. Watching the Swallow-tailed Kite floating above a Pine Flatwood, moving its kite like tail as a rudder, is what makes this region so special. Birding the hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods should provide a stunning list of wintering birds including warblers and vireos.

Florida with She Flew Birding Tours

Mangrove Cuckoo

With a stunning list of premier birding destinations on our trip, two have significant importance. The first, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, is contained within a 35 mile long barrier island right along the Atlantic Flyway. Many birds call this area home both throughout the year and as a wintering ground. The Canaveral National Seashore is also part of this amazing ecosystem. The shore will provide miles of quiet sandy beaches and a healty dune to look out to sea. Both were established as a buffer zone to the John F. Kennedy Space Center. This region is also home to one of three larger populations of the Florida Scrub-Jay. We will spend a whole day exploring this phenomenal habitat.

Florida with She Flew Birding ToursThe Everglades National Park is a destination in itself with 250 bird species seen in the last several years. It boasts as a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere and a Wetland of International Importance. We will spend one whole day birding in North America’s largest wetland. The higher elevations in the park, several feet above sea level, host hammocks and pine flatwoods which are rich in bird diversity and give us a chance to stretch our legs. The saltmarsh, estuaries, sea shore and the river of grass will be enjoyable to search for our target species. May of these can be accessed via boardwalks and elevated areas.

We should expect to identify 180-200 bird species on this trip. With the great winter weather, easy terrain, moderately paced days and good accommodations, this trip is a must for every birder.

ITINERARY

Florida with She Flew Birding Tours

Sandhill Cranes

DAY 1 – Orlando to Circle B Bar Reserve. Noon pickup from the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Heading south, our only birding stop of the day is a great one at the Circle B Bar Reserve in central Florida. It boasts over 200 bird species including many of our targets. We hope to see Roseate Spoonbill, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Sandhill Cranes, Pileated Woodpecker, Palm Warbler,  Swamp Sparrow and many water birds. Overnight in Kissimmee.

Florida with She Flew Birding Tours

Royal Terns

DAY 2 – Merritt Island and Canaveral National Seashore. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore provide miles and miles of outstanding birding. We will spend the whole day exploring this rich habitat by birding the Black Point Wildlife Drive, Indian River Lagoon, Playalinda Beach and a variety of short trails through Pine Flatwoods, Oak Hammocks and Florida Scrub. Our targets include Florida Scrub-Jay, Northern Gannet, Eurasian Wigeon, Long-tailed Duck, Black and Surf Scoters, Common Loon, 4 species of rails, both night herons, Brown Pelican and 5 species of Terns. We could also add up to 4 species of wrens, 12 species of warblers and 12 species of sparrows. Overnight for a second night in Kissimmee.

Florida with She Flew Birding Tours

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

DAY 3 – Pine Flatwoods. We start this big day by heading south into the heart of the Carribean and Sub-Tropical rarieties that make Florida birding so special. Our first stop will be in prestine pine flatwoods in search of Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman’s Sparrow and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Traveling further south, Crested Caracara will be sitting along the ranch roads. Driving down the heart of the Lake Wales Ridge towards Lake Okeechobee should give us study of both Swallow-tailed and Snail Kites. After a few more stops where we should add Grey-headed Swamphen, we will end our day at a parrot roost. Target species here include Spot-breasted Oriole, Orange-winged parrot, Red-masked and Yellow-cheveroned Parakeet. Overnight in Coral Gables.

Florida with She Flew Birding Tours

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Day 4 – The Southeast coast. Matheson Hammock and Bill Baggs Parks almost always have a rariety this time of year. I have seen Western Spindalis and Bananaquit here in previous winters. In addition to a winter rarity, we will look for White-crowned Pigeon, Common Hill Myna, White-eyed, Yellow-throated and Blue-headed Vireos and shorebirds. With multiple stops in town and area the edge of the Everglades Conservation Areas, our targets are Red-whiskered Bulbul, Monk Parakeet, Cave Swallow, Gray Kingbird, Grasshopper Sparrow (Florida subspecies) and Common Myna. Overnight in Florida City.

Florida with She Flew Birding Tours

Seaside Sparrow “Cape Sable”

DAY 5 – Everglades National Park. We will delight in exploring all that Everglades National Park can offer. This 1.5 million acre world class park has boardwalks, trails, the river of grass, hammocks, dwarf cypress, pine flatwoods, fresh water ponds and the salt water Florida Bay. Our targets include Mangrove Cuckoo, “Cape Sable” Seaside Sparrow, Barred Owl, Swallow-tailed Kite, Snail Kite, American Bittern, Purple Martins and up to 17 species of wintering warblers. We also have a great chance of seeing Manatee, Alligators and Crocodiles. Overnight for a second night in Florida City.

DAY 6 – Fill in the trip list. We have two options this day. First choice, chase a rare bird somewhere in the central or southern part of the state. Some of the birds that have shown up during the winter over the last several years are Zenaida Dove, Eurasian Wigeon, White-cheeked Pintail, Common Eider, American Flamingo, Key West Quail-Dove, Thick-billed Vireo, Black-faced Grassquit, Purple Sandpiper, La Sagra’s and Fork-tailed Flycatcher. Second option, bird our way up the gulf coast as we head towards Orlando. No worries, we’ll have plenty of really great birding spots to choose from.

DAY 7 – back to DIA. Return to the Orlando International Airport for flight home. We should arrive by noon.

TOUR DETAILS

DATES: January 7-13, 2018

DURATION: 7 days/6 nights

COST: $1295

INCLUDES: airport pick-up/drop off, all Florida transportation, all breakfasts and lunches, park fees, 6 hotel nights and expert guide

ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE: Orlando International Airport (MCO)

DIFFICULTY: moderately easy

EXPERIENCE: All levels welcome

FOCUS: birding, photography

SOLO SUPPLEMENT: $325

DEPOSIT: $400

FINAL PAYMENT: Due 90 days out

GROUP SIZE: 4-6 people (plus 1 guide, Sue Riffe)

EXPECTED BIRDS: 200

SAVINGS: $25-$75 less per day than larger tour companies

Florida with She Flew Birding Tours

TARGET BIRDS

  • Florida Scrub Jay (endemic to Florida)
  • Bachman’s Sparrow
  • Brown-headed Nuthatch
  • Cave Swallow
  • Common Myna
  • Crested Caracara
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Gray Kingbird
  • Grey-headed Swamphen
  • Limpkin
  • Mangrove Cuckoo
  • Monk Parakeet
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  • Red-whiskered Bulbul
  • Seaside Sparrow “Cape Sable” (endemic to Florida)
  • Short-tailed Hawk
  • Snail Kite
  • Spot-breasted Oriole
  • Swallow-tailed Kite
  • White-crowned Pigeon
  • Wood Stork
  • Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
  • Wintering Warblers
  • Plus many more!
Florida with She Flew Birding Tours
Florida with She Flew Birding Tours
Florida with She Flew Birding Tours
Florida with She Flew Birding Tours
Florida with She Flew Birding Tours
Florida with She Flew Birding Tours
Florida with She Flew Birding Tours
Florida with She Flew Birding Tours