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BirdFest 2015

Trips, Evening Events & Workshops —A Preview!

Registration Set to Open August 15

 

Wednesday, September 30

 

#101

Orientation, Presentation & Welcome Reception

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 6–8pm. Delta Hall at 5 Rivers

FEE: $22

 

Enjoy beverages and hors d’oeuvres, meet your fellow birders, pick up your registration packet, place an early bid on the silent auction, and enjoy a spectacular photo presentation, “Nature Through Our Lenses 2015.” The presentation focuses on photos from our featured poster photographer Patsy Russo, with photos from previous poster photographers, BirdFest founder John Borom, members of Mobile’s CameraSouth, the Eastern Shore Camera Club, and others.

    

Note: If you are not attending the reception, you may pick up your registration kit between 2 and 5pm on Wednesday or on the day of your first trip.    

 

 

Thursday, October 1

 

#201

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

6:30am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $47 – includes lunch

#201A: Meet bus at Bon Secour headquarters (approx. 7:30am)

FEE: $27 – bring own lunch

 

During migratory seasons, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge on Fort Morgan Peninsula is a prime birding location. Our guides and naturalists from BSNWR will take you down trails through woods, coastal marsh, and sandy beaches to seek birds in a variety of habitats. Extensive walking

 

 

#202

Bayou La Batre, Forever Wild Grand Bay Savanna, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Point aux Pins

6:30am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $47 – includes lunch

 

The Nature Conservancy calls this area one of the “last great places on Earth.” Fishing, shrimping, and oyster harvesting are big businesses here, and birding concentrates on waterbirds, shorebirds, and marsh species, although passerines and raptors can be abundant in the fall.  Moderate/extensive walking

 

 

#203

Mobile Bay, DISL Research Vessel Alabama Discovery Cruise

6:30am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $54 – includes lunch

#203A: Meet bus at Cadillac Square Park, approx. 7:30am

FEE: $38 – bring your own lunch

 

After some brief shore birding, we’ll join marine biologists from Dauphin Island Sea Lab for a cruise aboard the Alabama Discovery. You’ll learn the Bay’s history, ecology, and value, perhaps see bottlenose dolphins and Sand Island Light up close, and view specimens caught in a trawl net. Trip includes a stop at the George F. Crozier Estuarium. Cruise/easy walking

 

 

#204

Blakeley Island Mud Ponds & Battleship Park

6:30am–noon. Carpool from 5 Rivers

FEE: $22

 

Blakeley Island on Mobile River is best known for large dredge disposal ponds that are the premier shore-birding spots in the state. Battleship Park is on the Causeway, and together, these sites are great for spotting Osprey, waders, and waterfowl—and the occasional Roseate Spoonbill. Moderate walking

 

 

#205

Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise

7–9am. Meet at Weeks Bay Marina by 6:45

FEE: $27

 

With the aid of biologists and our guides, you will learn about this beautiful estuary while cruising on Weeks Bay, Fish River, and Magnolia River onboard the Weeks Bay Explorer. Afterwards, you may enjoy boardwalks through a bottomland hardwood swamp and/or a native pitcher plant bog or see exhibits in the Interpretive Center. Cruise/easy walking

 

 

#206

 Langan Park, Botanical Gardens & Environmental Study Center  NEW!

7am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $47 - includes lunch

 

Explore a variety of great urban birding locations in Mobile and hear from experts with stops at Langan Park, the Mobile Botanical Gardens, trails at the University of South Alabama, and the Mobile County Environmental Studies Center, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility, where you will enjoy a bird and wildlife presentation from staff naturalists. Easy walking

 

 

#207

Bottle Creek Indian Mound Paddle   NEW!

9am–5pm. Meet at Rice Creek Landing in Stockton by 8:45am

FEE: $80 - includes all necessary gear, water, and lunch

 

This is a different sort of adventure! You’ll paddle (in tandem kayak or canoe) into the middle of nowhere, then hike through the swamp and backwards in time to the Mississippian Tribes of the 13th Century. This is Chitzen Itza before the tourists—and every bit as powerful. Led by experienced guides from Delta Safaris, this is a strenuous all-day trip for those prepared for serious adventure. Extensive paddling/hiking

 

 

#208

Bon Secour River Cruise   NEW!

9–11am. Meet at dock at Beaux’s at Oyster Bay in Gulf Shores by 8:45

FEE: $27

 

Take a comfortable cruise on Bon Secour Bay and River onboard Alabama Cruzin, with expert guides from Wild Native. Watch for a variety of wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins, and learn about their habitat—and how the region has changed over time, with points on the geology, ecology, and characters of our coast: pirates, empire builders, and fisherman. This is a different side of Gulf Shores! Cruise

 

 

#209

Alligator Alley Adventure   NEW!

10am–3pm. Meet at entrance to Alligator Alley in Summerdale

FEE: $22 - includes Low Country Boil lunch

 

Start your adventure with a walk to the viewing platform, where you can see over 450 alligators, from hatchlings to mature adults, relaxing, courting and nesting—then watch what happens when the feeding crew walks right out with the alligators! After this, we’ll enjoy our own lunch, a casual, Low Country Boil, followed by a guided birding walk on the property’s extensive trails and boardwalks. Easy walking

 

 

#210

Weeks Bay Sunset Cruise

5–7:00pm. Meet at Weeks Bay Marina by 4:45

FEE: $27

 

Relax on a comfortable, leisurely pontoon boat cruise onboard the Weeks Bay Explorer. We’ll putter around in Weeks Bay, Magnolia River, and Fish River, watching as Osprey, eagles, cormorants, gulls, herons, egrets, and other birds (and possibly bottlenose dolphins) end their day. We’ll position the boat perfectly giving you time to snap some great sunset photos before heading back to dock. Cruise

 

 

 

Friday, October 2

 

#301

Blakeley Island Mud Ponds & Battleship Park

6:30am–noon. Carpool from 5 Rivers

FEE: $22

 

Blakeley Island on Mobile River is best known for large dredge disposal ponds that are the premier shore-birding spots in the state. Battleship Park is on the Causeway, and together, these sites are great for spotting Osprey, waders, and waterfowl—and the occasional Roseate Spoonbill. Moderate walking

 

 

#302

Mobile Bay, DISL Research Vessel Alabama Discovery Cruise

6:30am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $54 – includes lunch

#302A: Meet bus at Dauphin Island Sea Lab by 7:30am. Boat leaves sharply at 8am

FEE: $38 – bring your own lunch

 

We’ll join marine biologists from Dauphin Island Sea Lab for an enjoyable cruise aboard the Alabama Discovery. You’ll learn the Bay’s history, ecology, and value, perhaps see bottlenose dolphins and Sand Island Light up close, and view specimens caught in a trawl net. Trip includes the George F. Crozier Estuarium. Easy walking

 

 

#303

Splinter Hill Bog   NEW!

6:30am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $47 - includes lunch

 

With a variety of habitats, The Nature Conservancy’s Splinter Hill Bog Preserve and adjacent state-owned Forever Wild Preserve are home to some of the largest and most visually impressive white-topped pitcher-plants bogs in the world. More than twelve species of carnivorous plants and many wildflowers that attract several butterfly species can be seen. In the fall, look for Sedge Wren and numerous sparrow species including the coveted Henslow’s and LeConte’s Sparrows. Extensive walking

 

 

#304

Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise

7–9am. Meet at Weeks Bay Marina by 6:45

FEE: $27

 

With the aid of biologists and our guides, you will learn about this beautiful estuary while cruising on Weeks Bay, Fish River, and Magnolia River onboard the Weeks Bay Explorer. Afterwards, you may enjoy boardwalks through a bottomland hardwood swamp and/or a native pitcher plant bog or see exhibits in the Interpretive Center. Cruise/easy walking

 

 

#305

Gulf State Park & Perdido Pass   NEW!

7am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $47 - includes lunch

#305A: Meet bus at Gulf State Park Nature Center at approx. 8am

FEE: $27 - bring own lunch

 

Gulf State Park includes 2.5 miles of white sand beaches, an interactive nature center, spring-fed freshwater lakes, nature trails, and more. We’ll visit the Nature Center to see exhibits and hear the latest on birds in the park from the naturalist on duty; we’ll look for waterfowl, gulls, and Black Terns around Shelby Lake; for Osprey, bitterns, rails, and winter sparrows at Marsh Bridge; and for Brown Pelican and Northern Gannet at Gulf State Pier. We will then proceed to Perdido Pass/Alabama Point East where shorebirds, waders, and waterfowl are common. Easy walking

 

 

#306

Delta Discovery Tour   NEW!

7–11am. Meet at Bartram Landing at 5 Rivers by 6:45

FEE: $54 - includes soft drinks, water, and snacks on board

 

We’ll explore miles of rivers, creeks, and bayous of the Lower and Middle Mobile-Tensaw Delta onboard the Osprey. You’ll see alligators, snakes, turtles, and many wading birds along the banks—and possibly nutria, wild hogs, Bald Eagles, and Swallow-Tailed Kites. In addition, you’ll learn of the Delta’s rich history, with stories of Native Americans, European explorers, soldiers, and WWII-era Liberty Ships. Cruise

 

 

#307

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Kayak Tour   NEW!

8am–noon. Meet at dock at Beaux’s on Oyster Bay in Gulf Shores by 7:45

FEE: $70

 

You’re just five minutes from bustling Gulf Shores, but on this kayak tour, you’ll be immersed in a coastal wilderness. Led by experienced guides from Wild Native, you’ll explore inlets and canals of the refuge that cars can’t reach. Named as one of the “ten natural wonders” of Alabama, BSNWR gives you a glimpse of our coast as it once existed. Easy paddle

 

 

#308

Middle Bay Lighthouse Boat Tour   NEW!

1–5pm. Meet at Bartram Landing at 5 Rivers

FEE: $60

 

Cruise in comfort onboard the Osprey, as we explore the eastern side of Mobile Bay on our way to historic Middle Bay Lighthouse. Expert guides from Delta Safaris will entertain and inform you with tales of Mobile Bay—about Native Americans and early European settlers, Civil War battles, and what’s happening right now. We will circle the lighthouse and allow plenty of time for photos. (Note: access to lighthouse is prohibited.) Cruise

 

 

#309

BirdFest Social with Speaker and Silent Auction

Friday, Oct 2, 5:30–9pm. Delta Hall at 5 Rivers

FEE: $38 (wine & beer provided by our host hotel, Hampton Inn, Daphne)

 

Enjoy true Southern hospitality and a delicious meal with barbecue, seafood, and tasty sides. The BirdFest silent auction wraps up this night, so don’t miss a chance to place your final bid! Dr. Frank Moore, Director of the Migratory Bird Research Group at the University of Southern Mississippi, is our keynote speaker and will talk on the behavior of migratory birds as they negotiate the Gulf of Mexico, including the application of technology designed to study the movement of migrants across the Gulf.

 

 

Saturday, October 3

 

#401

Dauphin Island Shorebirds

6:30am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $48 – includes lunch

#401A: Meet bus on Dauphin Island at Cadillac Square Park at approx. 7:30am

FEE: $27 – bring your own lunch

 

Dauphin Island is one of the “ten most globally important sites” for bird migration. We will visit the maritime forest, marshes, and dunes of Audubon Bird Sanctuary and Pelican “Island,” a narrow strip of land that migrated from Sand Island Lighthouse and is usually attached to Dauphin Island. Wear shoes that can get wet and pants that can be rolled up in case you have to wade to Pelican Island. Moderate walking

 

 

#402

Blakeley Island Mud Ponds & Battleship Park

6:30am–noon). Carpool from 5 Rivers

FEE: $22

 

Blakeley Island on Mobile River is best known for large dredge disposal ponds that are the premier shore-birding spots in the state. Battleship Park is on the Causeway, and together, these sites are great for spotting Osprey, waders, and waterfowl—and often Roseate Spoonbills. Moderate walking

 

 

#403

Fort Morgan Peninsula/Trans Gulf Migration Flyway

6:30am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $47 – includes lunch

#403A: Meet bus outside the gate to Fort Morgan at approx. 7:30am

FEE: $27 – bring own lunch

 

The American Bird Conservancy calls Fort Morgan one of the top “globally important bird areas” in the U.S. You’ll visit the open areas and shoreline of Fort Morgan Historical Park, all part of a vital Trans Gulf Migration Flyway. Moderate/extensive walking

 

#404

Bayou La Batre, Forever Wild Grand Bay Savanna, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Point aux Pins

6:30am–2pm. Ride bus from 5 Rivers

FEE: $47 – includes lunch

 

The Nature Conservancy calls this area one of the “last great places on Earth.” Fishing, shrimping, and oyster harvesting are big businesses here, and birding concentrates on waterbirds, shorebirds, and marsh species, although passerines and raptors can be abundant in the fall.  Moderate/extensive walking

 

 

#405

Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise

7–9am. Meet at Weeks Bay Marina by 6:45

FEE: $27

 

With the aid of biologists and our guides, you will learn about this beautiful estuary while cruising on Weeks Bay, Fish River, and Magnolia River onboard the Weeks Bay Explorer. Afterwards, you may enjoy boardwalks through a bottomland hardwood swamp and/or a native pitcher plant bog or see exhibits in the Interpretive Center. Cruise/easy walking

 

 

#406

Weeks Bay Paddle   NEW!

8–11am. Meet at Weeks Bay Marina by 7:45

FEE: $33 - includes all necessary gear

 

The Weeks Bay Marina sits near the point where Fish River and Magnolia River empty into Weeks Bay. You’ll meet your expert guides from 17 Turtles Outfitters at the marina, pick out your canoe or kayak, and paddle southwest along the shore, hearing about the flora and fauna of the estuary and wetlands, arriving at the site of an eagle’s nest, viewable only from the water. Easy/moderate paddle

 

 

#407

Delta Discovery Tour   NEW!

8am–noon. Meet at Bartram Landing at 5 Rivers by 7:45

FEE: $54 - includes soft drinks, water, and snacks on board

 

We’ll explore miles of rivers, creeks, and bayous of the Lower and Middle Mobile-Tensaw Delta on board the Osprey. You’ll see alligators, snakes, turtles, and many wading birds along the banks—and possibly nutria, wild hogs, Bald Eagles, and Swallow-Tailed Kites. In addition, you’ll learn of the Delta’s rich history, with stories of Native Americans, European explorers, soldiers, and WWII-era Liberty Ships. Cruise

 

 

#408

Alligator Alley Adventure   NEW!

10am–3pm. Meet at Alligator Alley in Summerdale

FEE: $22 - includes Low Country Boil lunch

 

Start your adventure with a walk to the viewing platform, where you can see over 450 alligators, from hatchlings to mature adults, relaxing, courting and nesting—then watch what happens when the feeding crew walks right out with the alligators! After this, we’ll enjoy our own lunch, a casual, Low Country Boil, followed by a guided birding walk on the property’s extensive trails and boardwalks. Easy walking

 

 

#409

Bon Secour River Cruise   NEW!

10am–noon. Meet at dock at Beaux’s at Oyster Bay in Gulf Shores by 9:45

FEE: $27

 

Take a comfortable cruise on Bon Secour Bay and Bon Secour River onboard Alabama Cruzin, watching for a variety of wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins. Learn about the birds and other animals here, their habitats, and how the region has changed over time, with points on the geology, ecology, and characters of our coast: pirates, empire builders, and fishermen. This is a Gulf Shores you will want to lean more about! Cruise

 

 

#410

Bon Secour River Paddle   NEW!

1–4pm. Meet at dock at Beaux’s on Oyster Bay in Gulf Shores by 12:45

FEE: $58

 

Floating down the Bon Secour River is an eco-tourist’s dream! This is one of the best birding floats in the region. You’ll see multiple species of wading birds in a protected setting and might even see pods of bottlenose dolphins and manatees! Knowledgeable guides from Wild Native will assist you through every aspect of this fun and informative paddle as you explore this off-the-beaten-path part of Gulf Shores and are introduced to the fauna, flora, and history of the Bon Secour River. Easy paddle

 

 

#411

Fairhope Fly Creek Exploration Paddle   NEW!

4–6pm. Meet at 17 Turtles Outfitter by 3:45

FEE: $33 - includes all necessary gear

 

Enjoy an easy paddle (canoe, kayak, or paddle board) that starts in urban setting, taking you past moored sailboats, luxury yachts, and shrimp boats as you make your way up the quiet waters of Fly Creek. Expert guides from 17 Turtles Outfitters will tell you about this small but important watershed as you view creekside backyards and fishing docks. Easy paddle 

 

 

#412

Delta Sunset Wine Tasting Cruise

5–7pm. Meet at Bartram Landing at 5 Rivers by 4:45

FEE: $38 – includes wine & light hors d’oeuvres

 

Wrap up BirdFest with a cruise through open rivers, bays, tidal marshes, and mud flats onboard the Osprey while enjoying wine and light snacks. As the sun sets, your Delta Safaris captain will position the vessel for you to enjoy a magnificent sunset. Relax, wind down, and let nature’s beauty unfold as you reflect on this year’s event—and make plans to return next year! Cruise

 

 

New BirdFest Workshops at 5 Rivers

Enrollment is limited. Register online

 

Hummingbirds!  Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2–4pm, Fee: $15. Fred Bassett, certified master bird bander, will present an overview of hummingbirds’ habitat, food, and migration, and talk about what you can do to attract hummers to your yard. He will share tales from his 20+ years studying and banding hummingbirds in more than 1,000 locations, from South Florida to Alaska. Fred founded Hummingbird Research, Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes the conservation of hummingbirds through research and education. They continue the vision of Bob and Martha Sargent and the Hummer/Bird Study Group.

 

Basics of Birding  Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2–4pm, Fee: $15. New to birding and want to enhance your experiences during BirdFest and beyond? This workshop, taught by an experienced educator from Birmingham Audubon, will offer tips on what to look for and when, how to use binoculars, what you need to know about “birding etiquette,” and more.

 

Bird & Nature Photo Workshop  Friday, Oct. 2, 2–5pm, Fee: $20. Jeff Johnston, BirdFest’s outstanding feature photographer in 2012 and an experienced instructor, leads this workshop that includes classroom instruction and a short field trip to practice your new skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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