This season’s away-from-home trip on Dec 7–10, 2017 takes us back to the Florida Panhandle for birding at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and two spots in the Red Hills Region: Tall Timbers Research Station (TTRS) and the privately-owned Greenwood Plantation; and Seacrest Wolf Preserve, home to North American Wolves.
Our weekend birding guide, Jim Cox, is a biologist and director of the vertebrate ecology program at TTRS. The weekend includes 4 birding/botany field trips, other natural history indulgences, and a private, hands-on tour at Seacrest Wolf Preserve. Weekend and birding/botany-only participants should arrive Thursday, Dec 7, 2017. Seacrest-only participants should arrive at Seacrest on Friday, Dec 8, 2017. A brief outline follows.
• Thursday: Arrive by 1 p.m. for birding, an introduction and brief history of TTRS, the bird museum collection, a possible Beadel House tour and a stroll down to the bird window as Red-cockaded Woodpeckers return to roost around 5 p.m.
• Friday: Start with early morning birding at TTRS’ Woodyard Hammock, a nice beach-magnolia forest, and the boat launch at Lake Iamonia. Afterwards, answer “the call of the wild” by carpooling to Seacrest Wolf Preserve near Chipley, FL, to meet, touch and forever revere Seacrest’s Arctic, British Columbian and Grey wolves; and smaller animals like Arctic Fox, Coyote, Raccoons and huggable Skunks. Imagine getting a muzzle greeting from one of this year’s Grey Wolf pups or their pack’s female alpha, Grey Cloud!
• Saturday: Carpool to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge for birding and other coastal encounters. Targets are wintering ducks and shorebirds and rare sightings.
• Sunday: carpool to Greenwood Plantation in nearby Thomasville, GA, for a birding/botany field trip in pristine, old growth longleaf pine forests. Jim will demonstrate bird banding, targeting wintering Henslow’s Sparrows. After lunch an optional stopover at Maclay Gardens is offered before leaving the Red Hills Region for home. Early Bird Registration for the entire weekend is $80 Audubon members/$95 non-members; birding-only trips are $55/$70. Both include guides, field trip fees, 3 lunches and 1 dinner prepared at Walter Lodge. The Seacrest-only private tour is $35/$45 and includes private tour admission and lunch. A late registration fee of $10 applies after Nov 30, 2017. Residual profit, if any, will benefit OAS’ future nature and environmental education center to be located on or near the Lake Apopka North Shore.
Lodging is first come, first served at TTRS’ Walter Lodge, which has 8 private bedrooms (double occupancy; twin beds). Guests share 5 bathrooms and large open living, dining and kitchen areas. The lodge is offered to OAS participants for a discounted rate of $37.50/night + tax if we fill it each night. Otherwise, the cost is pro-rated. Because space is limited, priority will be given to weekend participants. Free, primitive camping for tents or campers is available on the grounds near the lodge.
Contact Teresa for details and to reserve field trip spots, a room at Walter Lodge or a camping spot under the big trees at [masked]. Alternatively, you may make your own hotel reservation.