Field Trips & Morning Nature Walks

Important Statement Regarding COVID-19 and Field Trips

During the PIAS 2022-2023 season, we will be leading a smaller number of field trips because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our goal is to offer a series of exciting visits to good birding locations that will get people outdoors while keeping each other safe and healthy. Birding offers a wonderful means of escaping the indoors, exercising, socializing with friends at a distance and contributing to our mental well-being.

Participants must sign up for trips on our website so we may limit the number of people. Following CDC safety guidelines, masks will be required and physical distancing observed when necessary, for example, on crowded boardwalks and trails. In the past, we have encouraged carpooling to trip locations, but will not do so this year. We will not share binoculars or spotting scopes, so please bring your own equipment. By following these few simple steps, we can enjoy nature together and maintain our health. 


Schedule of 2022 – 2023 Pelican Island Audubon Field Trips & Morning Nature Walks
Click here for the meeting & program schedule.

Check back often. More field trips to be added.

2022
Field Trip – Thursday, September 15, 2022 – Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area – Guide: Ricky Ray – Meet at IHOP, 8800 20th St, Vero Beach, at 7:00AM for car pool – Easy 2 to 3 mile hike to look for birds along the trail.  Bring binoculars and/or camera, water, & bug spray if needed. Walk is limited to 4 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Sunday, September 18, 2022 – North Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area – Morgan Rockwell, an M.S. student at the University of Florida, leads a guided walk through the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  Learn about ORCA’s various habitats and the wildlife and plants that live there. Meet at Audubon House, 195 9th Street SE (Oslo Rd), Vero Beach, at 8AM – Walk is limited to 12 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Sunday, September 25, 2022 – South Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area – Morgan Rockwell, an M.S. student at the University of Florida, leads a guided walk through the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  Learn about ORCA’s various habitats and the wildlife and plants that live there. Meet at Audubon House, 195 9th Street SE (Oslo Rd), Vero Beach, at 8AM – Walk is limited to 12 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Thursday, September 29, 2022 – Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area – Guide: Ricky Ray – Meet at IHOP, 8800 20th St, Vero Beach, at 7:00AM for car pool – Drive time is estimated to take 1 hour to reach trailhead at Three Lakes WMA – 2 to 3 hour hike to look for birds along the trail with a stop at an observation tower.  Bring binoculars and/or camera, water, snacks & bug spray if needed. Walk is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. CANCELED DUE TO HURRICANE.
Field Trip – Saturday, October 8, 2022 – Blue Cypress Conservation Area
Walk is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name – Susan Drew
Trip/area Description, with any special characteristics – Susan Drew will lead an easy walk on a newly cleared trail, located along side the waterway where the airboat rides begin. On the right will be the vast open waters where the airboat rides go and many water birds can be found. On the left will be various wetland marshes and wooded areas where plenty of birds reside as well. In October, newly arrived ducks and other migrating birds might easily be seen.
Duration of trip in hours: 2 Hours – 2.5 Hours
Walking distance – 1.5 miles each way (can be less if desired)
Degree of difficulty, and any special instructions – Easy, flat path
Where you’d like participants to meet – Blue Cypress Conservation Area is 7.5 miles from I-95 along SR 60 west, before turning right and going 1.5 miles north on CR 512. Watch for the Blue Cypress Recreation Area sign on the left before turning into the parking lot. Meet in the parking lot in front of the trail (there’s a metal gate in front of the path)
Time of meeting – 7:30 AM
Walk is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Sunday, October 9, 2022 – North Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area – Morgan Rockwell, an M.S. student at the University of Florida, leads a guided walk through the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  Learn about ORCA’s various habitats and the wildlife and plants that live there. Meet at Audubon House, 195 9th Street SE (Oslo Rd), Vero Beach at 8AM – Walk is limited to 12 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Saturday, October 15, 2022 – Bee Gum Point Preserve
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name: Jim Shea
Trip Description: Guide Jim Shea will lead a walk around this Indian River Land Trust property east of A1A in Indian River Shores on the barrier island. This 111-acre property is one of the last unprotected wetlands on the barrier island and contains a mile of Indian River Lagoon shoreline. It is situated along the Atlantic Flyway, a major corridor for migrating birds. The impounded ponds serve to control saltmarsh mosquitoes, but are also feeding grounds for wading birds and waterfowl. Roseate Spoonbills are one of the prized birds often observed here. It is likely you will see a Prothonotary Warbler (like on the cover of the September 2022 Peligram) since they have been seen there during October for the past several years – usually one or a pair and as bright as in the Peligram cover photo!
Duration of trip: 2-2.5 hours
Walking distance: About 1.6 miles
Degree of difficulty: Easy walking on mowed levee path. Bring hat, water, sunscreen and bug repellant.
Where to meet: Parking lot at the west end of Fred Tuerk Drive. Turn left (west) at the blinking light on A1A in Indian River Shores. The lot is at the left by the electrical substation.
Date: 10/15/2022 (Sat.)
Time: 7:00am – 9:30am EDT
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Sunday, October 16, 2022 – South Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area – Morgan Rockwell, an M.S. student at the University of Florida, leads a guided walk through the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  Learn about ORCA’s various habitats and the wildlife and plants that live there. Meet at Audubon House, 195 9th Street SE (Oslo Rd), Vero Beach, at 8AM – Walk is limited to 12 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Friday, October 21, 2022 – St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, 1000 Buffer Preserve Drive, Fellsmere
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name: Lani York
Trip/area Description: This state park preserves open forests of longleaf pine once commonplace throughout Florida. The pine flatwoods form a backdrop for other biological communities, including cypress domes, scrubby Flatwoods, sand hills, and a beautiful strand swamp. Those habitats are home to many native plants and animals, including over 50 protected species, including the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. There are miles of trails to explore on foot, bicycle, or horseback, while the St. Sebastian River offers boating and fishing.         
Duration of trip in hours: 2 hours         
Walking distance: Easy walking for one mile
Degree of difficulty and any special instructions: Walk the trail behind the Visitor Center to observe birds and wildlife. Pack water, hat, sun protection, insect repellent, and proper footwear to avoid contact with fire ants.
Where to meet: Visitor Center parking lot on Road 507 north of Fellsmere across from the entrance road to the Stick Marsh at 1002-1006 Buffer Preserve Dr, Sebastian, FL 32976 (for GPS address).
Time of meeting: 8:00 a.m.
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Sunday, October 30, 2022 – Sebastian Inlet State Park, 9700 South Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach
Trip is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name:  Lani York
Trip/area Description: Spanning both sides of the Sebastian Inlet State Park on both sides of the barrier island on which it is located, this state park has beach and Indian River Lagoon frontage, plus coastal strand, maritime hammock and mangroves. This park hosts a over 180 species of birds during the course of a year. Sebastian Inlet State Park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. The park and surrounding beaches also has the largest nesting assemblage of sea turtles in the United States. A small cove on the northwest side of the bridge may host Black-crowned Night Herons, Reddish Egrets and Short-billed Dowitchers. The foot trails along the river on the north side of the inlet provide a good vantage to scope for Lesser Scaup and Common Loons during fall and winter. Check the ocean side for Ruddy Turnstones and Semipalmated Plovers, as well as Black Skimmers, Sandwich Terns and Herring Gulls. On the southwest side of the bridge, the entrance to the Sebastian Fishing Museum takes you past a dock where Wood Storks congregate and on through the campground to a spit of land good for shorebirds. Another entrance, south of the museum, leads to a trail through diked mangrove impoundments, which can be good for songbird migrants in spring and fall.
Duration of trip in hours:  2 hours         
Walking distance: 0.5 miles
Degree of difficulty and any special instructions:Easy walking in parking area, boardwalk or packed sand trail. There is an $8.00 entrance fee per vehicle. 
Where to meet:  Parking lot under bridge on north side of park.
Time of meeting:  8:30 a.m.
Trip is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Sunday, November 6, 2022 – Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory – Morgan Rockwell, an M.S. student at the University of Florida, leads a guided walk through the grounds and trails of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory located in the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  Learn about FMEL and ORCA’s various habitats and the wildlife and plants that live there. Meet at Audubon House, 195 9th Street SE (Oslo Rd), Vero Beach, at 8AM – Trip is limited to 12 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Friday, November 11, 2022 – Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road Fort Pierce
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name: Donna Halleran
Trip/area Description: Between Fort Pierce and Vero Beach, Indrio Savannahs was thankfully never developed as a subdivision. Purchased to protect the savannahs wetland system, this site features several different trails in the 297-acre site, including an observation tower and a fishing pier. The 35-acre lake is designated as a “catch-and-release” area and contains a kayak/canoe launch. This route is part of the statewide “Great Florida Birding Trail.”  Only a mile west of the Indian River Lagoon, these savannahs are freshwater wetlands that serve as an important stopping point for migratory birds. Sandhill Cranes nest in the wetlands. Eagles and wading birds are often seen here also. A strip of scrub forest above the wetlands provides habitat for the Florida Scrub Jay, and is a unique environment for certain rare plants that require both the ancient scrub soil and the humidity generated by the savannas.
Duration of trip in hours: 1.5 hours
Walking distance: 1.5-2  miles
Degree of difficulty and any special instructions: The trails are easy and flat.  A very gentle walk. Great for birding and wildlife watching. No restrooms. It is hard-packed enough up to the observation deck that wheelchairs can traverse with assistance. 
Where to meet:  Meet at 8:00 a.m. at the parking lot of the Indrio Savannahs. North US1, N. Ft. Pierce (westside of U.S.1) 5275 Tozour Road
Time of meeting: 8:00 a.m.
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Sunday, November 13, 2022 – Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory – Morgan Rockwell, an M.S. student at the University of Florida, leads a guided walk through the grounds and trails of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory located in the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  Learn about FMEL and ORCA’s various habitats and the wildlife and plants that live there. Meet at Audubon House, 195 9th Street SE (Oslo Rd), Vero Beach, at 8AM – Trip is limited to 12 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
MORNING NATURE WALK (approximately one hour long) Saturday, November 26, 2022 – Riverside Park & Memorial Island – Guide: Leah Blythe-LoPresti – Approximately 1 hour easy to moderate walk covering 1 – 2 miles of a variety of surfaces, paved road, grass, and a sandy trail – Meet at the Riverside Park Tennis Office/Restroom Building, 350 Dahlia Lane, Vero Beach, at 8AM Walk is limited to twelve participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Sunday, December 11, 2022 – Osprey Acres Stormwater Park & Nature Preserve – Morgan Rockwell, an M.S. student at the University of Florida, leads a hike through the Osprey Acres Stormwater Park & Nature Preserve to identify its various habitats and the plants & wildlife that reside there.  This 83.7 acre facility boasts a range of natural Florida ecosystems including uphill pine, mesic oak hammock, a small scrub area, and now manmade wetlands. Having these various habitats promotes a wealth of biodiversity within the property. Meet at 8AM at Osprey Acres, 925 5th ST SW, Vero Beach. Walk is limited to twelve participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Thursday, December 15, 2022 – T. M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area/Broadmoor Wetlands
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name: George Thomas
Trip/area Description, any special characteristics: As part of the floodplains of the Upper St. Johns River Basin, the area that is now the T.M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area was drained in the early 1900s to support growing vegetable crops and to use as pastureland for cattle.  Beginning in the 1980s, the St. Johns River Water Management District has been acquiring this former farmland to restore the wetlands to provide habitat for wintering, migrating, and resident waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. The 6,270 acres of the T.M Goodwin WMA, which includes the Broadmoor Marsh Unit, now supports hunting, fishing, abundant wildlife viewing, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Two islands at the entrance to the area host a large nesting colony of wading birds in winter and spring, including Roseate Spoonbills. The open marsh habitat, mudflats and impoundments attract a good variety of duck species including Mottled Duck, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck late fall through winter. Limpkin, Purple Gallinule, Wood Stork, Black-necked Stilt and other shorebirds, both night-herons, Roseate Spoonbill and Northern Harrier are fairly common. On this trip we will view the birds from vehicles by following the series of dikes around the impoundments.
Duration of trip in hours: 3-4 hours
Walking distance: Minimal as most viewing will be from vehicles.
Degree of difficulty and any special instructions: Easy. We’ll stop to use spotting scopes on the levees which can be uneven for standing.
Where to meet: Stick Marsh parking lot, west of Road 507, north of Fellsmere. At the boat ramp parking lot at the end of Fellsmere Grade Road in the Fellsmere Grade Recreation Area.
Time of meeting: 8:30 am
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
2023
Field Trip – Sunday, January 29, 2023 – Orlando Wetlands Park, 25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas, FLTrip is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register. – Bill and Becky Loftus will lead a field trip to Orlando Wetlands Park, which is a 1,220-acre constructed-wetland system situated 27 miles east of Orlando in the town of Christmas in which former cattle pasture was converted into wetlands for the reuse of the highly treated effluent from a regional treatment facility. The plant communities include deep-marsh areas, mixed-marsh and wet prairies, and hardwood/cypress swamps. The Park has more than 20 miles of roads and woodland trails leading through marshes, hardwood hammocks and along ponds. Roads along the pond levees are closed to vehicles but provide access for bird-watching, photography, walking and bicycling. The paths are handicapped-accessible.

There is a nature center with drinks, snacks, and exhibits with restrooms and picnic tables. Click to visit the Orlando Wetlands Parks website.

Some 220 bird species and 63 butterfly species have been recorded in the park along with other wildlife attracted to these extensive wetlands. The open waters of the ponds and marshes attract thousands of waterbirds, including Blue-winged Teal, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Limpkins, Anhingas, Common and Purple Gallinules, American Coots and others. Wading birds such as Wood Storks, White and Glossy Ibis, Black-crowned Night Herons, and other typical wading birds are common during the winter and spring. Great Blue Herons are often seen wresting large, black salamanders from the aquatic vegetation in the ponds. Bald eagles, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawks, Black and Turkey Vultures are year-round resident raptors in the Park. Warblers and other small passerines occur in the forested areas of the Park. Mammals along the trails include raccoons, river otters, white-tailed deer and bobcats. 

Walking distance: 3 miles, although participants may choose to walk less. Sometimes a tram will come by to pick up weary visitors.

Degree of difficulty: Easy walking along smooth levees among the ponds. Weather may be warm or cold so dress accordingly. Bring water and sunscreen. You may wish to bring lunch as there are no nearby restaurants. Picnic tables are available at the Wetlands or at Fort Christmas.

Where to meet: Chevron gas station/McDonalds on County Road 512, just east of I-95 at 6:00AM. If you wish to drive directly to Orlando Wetlands Park, please let the PIAS office know so we do not wait for you at Sebastian. We should arrive at the Orlando Wetlands Park about 7:30.

Trip is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Saturday, February 18, 2023 – Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area
Trip is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name: George Glenn
Trip/area Description, any special characteristics: The Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area is made up of 20,862-acres comprising wetlands and upland communities that mark the southernmost reach of the St. Johns River’s headwaters.  The dry prairie, pine flatwoods, hardwood swamp and freshwater marsh habitats support a variety of wildlife and attracts a large number of bird species, especially during the winter migration.  Hiking trails through the various habitats include a boardwalk with benches through a cypress/hardwood swamp.
Duration of trip in hours: 3 hours
Walking distance: Maximum of 2-3 miles but participants may choose to do less. Everyone will be provided the combination to the gate lock so that if you decide you want to quit the hike early, you will be able to leave when you want. 
Degree of difficulty, and any special instructions: Partly on uneven roadbed; sandy walking trails may also have some uneven spots with some exposed roots and branches. Otherwise, fairly easy walking.
Where to meet: Fort Drum Marsh parking lot, south of SR 60. To get to the entrance to Fort Drum, go west on Rt. 60 as if you are heading to Yeehaw Junction. The entrance is on the South side of the road, and is roughly 15 miles from the I-95 interchange and right before you get to the “bend” in the rt. 60 road. You do NOT go all the way to Yeehaw Junction. Once you make the turn into Fort Drum access road, you will travel around 1/2 mile to the gate. It’s a single road so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Contact the field trip leader, George Glenn, at 850-294-4586 if you need further directions, especially on the morning of the field trip.
Time of meeting: 7:00 am
Trip is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Friday, March 3, 2023 – Belle Glade
Trip is limited to 10 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leaders: Ann Esmas and Becky Loftus
Location: Torry Island Campground, Belle Glade, Lake Okeechobee – On the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee, the second largest lake in the US,  we will see a number of waterbirds and other species, including  Bald Eagles, Osprey, Snail Kites, Roseate Spoonbills and egrets, Blue-winged Teal, other waterfowl and many more as we hike along the famous Hoover Dike that surrounds the lake.  An observation tower at Torry Island Campground, 5000 W Canal St N in Belle Glade allows a good view of the lake, wildlife and surrounding areas. There are two recreational walking nature trails to view wildlife also where we may see terrestrial birds. We will also explore other areas near the Lake depending on what species have been reported nearby.
Duration of trip in hours: 8 hours (2 hours to destination). However, participants may leave at any time.
Walking distance: 1-2 miles
Degree of difficulty: Easy walking on mowed levee trails. Please pack a picnic lunch and drinks to eat at the campground. 
Where to meet: IHOP parking lot at 8800 20th St. in Vero Beach.
Time of meeting: 6:00 a.m.
Trip is limited to 10 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip – Wednesday, March 8, 2023 – Three Lakes Wildlife Management AreaTrip is limited to 15 people. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name: Carolyn Cimino
Site Descriptions: Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area: Formerly a cattle ranch, the 63,000 acres of the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Osceola County consists of  hiking, bicycling, and horseback trails including self-guided driving tours.  Birds and butterflies  include the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker and the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow located in a mosaic of dry and wet prairie, flatwoods, hammocks, cypress ponds and patches of scrub. Other birds of interest in the Longleaf Pine woods include Brown-headed Nuthatches and Bachman’s Sparrow.
Joe Overstreet Landing: On the 5.5 mile drive to the Boat Landing on Lake Kissimmee, we’ll look for Florida Sandhill Crane, Wild Turkey, Eastern Meadowlark, Bald Eagle, Crested Caracara and Loggerhead Shrike. During migration, shorebirds use the sod fields when there is standing water. At the end of the road there is a campsite and store. Check the boat ramp area and marsh for Limpkins and ibis. Snail Kites and Limpkins search the lake for apple snails and Bald Eagles often perch on posts close to the shore. Purple Gallinule are often present. Several rarities have been recorded at this site including Red-headed Woodpecker, Western Kingbird, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
Duration of trip in hours: About 8 hours from start to finish but participants may leave at any time.
Walking distance: One mile maximum; much of trip is by vehicle.
Degree of difficulty, and any special instructions:Easy trip. Walking is on even, sandy roads. Bring lunch and drinks for eating at the Landing on picnic tables.
Where participants meet: IHOP parking lot at 8800 20th St. in Vero Beach
Time of meeting: 6:00 a.m.
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Field Trip: Thursday, March 23, 2023 -Wakodahatchee Wetlands & Green Cay Nature Center & Wetlands
Trip is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Names: Bill and Becky Loftus  
Wakodahatchee Wetlands (13026 Jog Road, Delray Beach) – A created wetland serving to clean wastewater from Palm Beach County Water Utilities treatment facilities, it is one of the best birding spots in Florida at which to observe and photograph wetland birds. The ponds host a wonderful variety of wildlife including fishes, turtles, alligators and many birds species (>180 bird species of birds have been recorded). Springtime is the best time to see and photograph at close range wading birds and waterbirds, including Wood Storks, Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants should be on nests caring for eggs and feeding nestlings.
During winter, the limited parking area fills quickly so we will arrive early. 
Click to visit the Wakodahatchee Wetlands website.
Green Cay Wetlands (12800 Hagen Ranch Road, Boynton Beach) – This Palm Beach County Park is also a constructed wetland system to clean wastewater of nutrients before release. The park has 100 acres of treatment marshes, ponds and cypress wetlands, along with hardwood hammock and pine uplands. A boardwalk is sprinkled with interpretive signs explaining the birds, turtles and the habitats of the park. The marshes and shallow ponds are great places to observe Soras, Blue-winged Teal, Wood Storks and most herons and egrets, Purple Gallinules, and many others. Birds in the hammocks and cypress forests include warblers, woodpeckers, Red-shouldered Hawks, Screech Owls, and others. Several Purple Martin houses over the open ponds are active with dozens of martins in late winter through spring.
Green Cay Nature Center is located at the beginning of the boardwalk. The air-conditioned center has interpretive exhibits, a gift shop and restrooms. Bird feeders in the hammock outside the center attract a variety of upland birds, including Painted Buntings. There is also a butterfly garden nearby.
Click to visit the Green Cay website.
Duration of trip in hours: Full day field trip from Vero Beach. 
Walking distance: The three-quarter mile, handicapped-accessible boardwalk provides easy viewing of birds at Wakodahatchee.  The wetlands and uplands at Green Cay are reached by 1.5 miles of elevated, handicapped-accessible boardwalk that offers close-up viewing of the wetland and waterbirds. 
Degree of difficulty, and any special instructions:Easy walking but the afternoon may be hot so water, hats and sunscreen are advised. Lunch will be at a restaurant near the wetlands.
Where to meet: Meet at the IHOP parking lot at 8800 20th St. in Vero Beach at 6:00 am for the 1.5 hour drive to Delray Beach. 
Time of meeting: 6:00 am, returning at any time you wish.
Trip is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
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