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 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.

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.
Date: Friday, 10 February 2023
Location: Osprey Acres Stormwater Park & Nature Preserve
Trips is limited to 20 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Name: Alexis Peralta
Trip/area Description, with any special characteristics: This county-run 83.7 acre stormwater facility is home to several natural Florida ecosystems including pine forest, mesic oak hammock, a small scrub area, and manmade wetlands. This variety of habitats supports a diversity of animal communities on the property. The site and associated facility treats stormwater and reverse-osmosis reject water before these waters enter the Indian River Lagoon. Waters for treatment come from both Osprey Marsh (next door) and untreated canal water. Special treatment cells and a constructed serpentine flow-way filters the surface water, removing nutrients that could have caused harmful algal growth in the Lagoon, and provides wetland habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, some of which are endangered.
Duration of trip in hours: 1.5 hours
Walking distance: 0.5 miles
Degree of difficulty, and any special instructions: Dry, sandy flat pathways through forested areas and along waterway. Some roots along path but mainly smooth walking.
Where you’d like participants to meet: Parking area, 925 5th St SW, Vero Beach, FL 32962
Time of meeting: 9:00 am
Number of participants limit: 20 individuals
Trips 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.
Field Trip Saturday, March 25, 2023 – Martha Wininger – Pelican Island Audubon Society Reflection Park, Between Barber St. and Schumann Drive in Sebastian
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
Leader Names: Susan and Wes Lovelace
Trip/area Description: This Florida scrub habitat, preserved near Pelican Island Elementary School in Sebastian, was saved through the combined actions of the students and Pelican Island Audubon. It preserves living space for the Florida Scrub Jay in the midst of burgeoning suburban development. Besides searching for the Scrub Jay families that call this area home, Wes and Susan will identify the unique plants that comprise the scrub habitat, show which plants are critical to the jays, and discuss the requirements needed to preserve the scrub. 
Duration of trip: 2 hours
Walking distance: less than 1/2 mile
Degree of difficulty, and any special instructions: Easy walking on dry, sandy paths.
Where you’d like participants to meet: At the monument on Barber Street, just east of the Pelican Island Elementary School, where parking is available
Time of meeting: 8:00 a.m.
Number of participants limit: 15 persons. 
Date: 03/11/2023 (Sat.)
Time: 8:00am – 10:00am EDT
Trip is limited to 15 participants. Registration is required. Click to register.
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