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Ask John Borom

 
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Registration is now closed for trips and evening events for the 2014 Alabama Coastal BirdFest. Please check out the many free events, including the family friendly Bird & Conservation Expo, Saturday, Oct. 4, 9am to 4pm, on the campus of Faulkner State College in downtown Fairhope.

 

Wednesday, October 1

Orientation & Welcome Reception
101: Wednesday, Oct. 1 (6–8pm)
LOCATION: Delta Hall at 5 Rivers
FEE: $20

Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, meet your fellow birders, and get a head start on the silent auction at the beautiful 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center. Starting at 6pm, you may pick up your registration packet and get directions for drive-yourself trips or meet-the-bus trips. If you arrive early, browse the exhibit hall next door or relax on the back deck with your binoculars. There’s good birding to be had right from the deck with spectacular views of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

            At 7pm, walk over to the Tensaw Theater to share the vision of some of the finest photographers in our area with “Nature Through Our Lenses 2014,” a musical slide show of bird and nature photos. The presentation includes shots by this year’s poster photographer Spence Harrison, along with previous feature photographers Larry Dees, Jeff Johnston, Sherry Stimpson Frost, Bill Summerour, Terry Hartley, Lisa Comer, and Kathy Hicks, BirdFest founder John Borom, and members of Mobile’s CameraSouth, the Eastern Shore Camera Club, and Pensacola’s Wide Angle Photo Club. Join us for this always entertaining photographic journey through the rich natural environment of the Alabama Gulf Coast.

 

Thursday, October 2

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
201: Thursday, Oct. 2 (6:30am–2pm)
DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $43 – includes lunch

201A: Thursday, Oct. 2
DEPARTURE: Meet bus at Bon Secour headquarters (approx. 7:30am)
FEE: $23 – bring own lunch

During migratory seasons, more than 370 species of birds have been identified at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, located on Fort Morgan Peninsula. Guides for this trip include naturalists from BSNWR who are intimately familiar with the refuge’s 7,000 acres of coastal barrier habitat, home to migratory birds, nesting sea turtles, and the endangered Alabama beach mouse. Trip includes moderate to extensive walks through maritime forests, a coastal marsh, and beaches—essential habitat for an amazing diversity of birds. You might see Scarlet Tanager, Palm Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Brown Pelican, Marsh Wren, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Swainson’s Thrush, Osprey, Merlin, Forster’s Tern, and possibly migrating Monarch butterflies. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray.

Bayou La Batre, Forever Wild Grand Bay Savanna, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge,
and Point aux Pins
202: Thursday, Oct. 2 (6:30am–2pm)
DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $43 – includes lunch

The Nature Conservancy has called this area one of the “Last Great Places on Earth,” thanks to the amazing bio-diversity found here. For generations, fishing, shrimping, and oyster harvesting have been big businesses here. Birding concentrates on waterbirds, shorebirds, and marsh species, although passerines and raptors can be abundant in the fall. On this trip, you might see Marsh and Sedge Wrens, Seaside and Swamp Sparrows, American Oystercatcher, Black-necked Stilt, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Great Egret, and Mottled Duck. This is a moderate walking trip. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray.

Dauphin Island-Trans Gulf Migration Flyway
203: Thursday, Oct. 2 (6:30am–2pm)
DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $43 – includes lunch

203A: Thursday, Oct. 2
DEPARTURE: Meet bus on Dauphin Island at Cadillac Square Park at approx. 7:30am
FEE: $23 – bring own lunch

Just a narrow barrier island only 14 miles long, Dauphin Island has been noted by WildBird magazine as one of the “top four locations in North America for viewing neotropical migrations.” An informal count in April 2008 recorded 203 species, making it the “Birdiest Small City” in the U.S. This heavy walking trip will visit prime birding spots, including the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuaries, the airport marsh, Shell Mound Park, the goat trees, rock jetties at Fort Gaines, and the causeway. On this trip, you might see Clapper Rail, Great Blue Heron, Red-eyed Vireo, Swainson’s Thrush, Chestnut-sided Warbler, American Restart, Common Yellowthroat, Brown Pelican, and Black Skimmer. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray.

Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island Sea Lab Research Vessel Alabama Discovery Cruise
204: Thursday, Oct. 2 (6:30am–2pm)
DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $50 – includes lunch

204A: Thursday, Oct. 2
DEPARTURE: Meet the bus at Cadillac Square Park at approx. 7:30am for short shore birding before boat trip.
FEE: $35 – bring your own lunch

Enjoy a cruise on Mobile Bay in the comfort and safety of the Alabama Discovery, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s 65-foot research vessel. View gulls and pelicans so close that you can see the movements of individual feathers. With the aid of marine biologists from DISL and our birding experts, you will learn the Bay’s history, ecology, and value, and view specimens caught in a trawl net. The trip includes a stop at the George F. Crozier Estuarium and might make a close-up pass of Alabama’s only lighthouse, the Sand Island Light. Expect to see Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Black Skimmer, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Forster’s Tern, Caspian Tern, and Herring Gull—and perhaps even bottlenose dolphins. Note: Thursday trip 204 & 204A will start with short shell mounds birding before boat ride.

Northbound Delta Adventure Cruise - NEW!
205: Thursday, Oct. 2 (7am–1pm)
DEPARTURE: Tour leaves 5 Rivers by boat, returns by bus
FEE: $50 – includes lunch

This northbound tour on the Osprey, led by expert guides from 5 Rivers Delta Safaris, departs from 5 Rivers and winds 30 miles through a variety of habitats in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta on the way to Live Oak Landing. Along the way, you might see various wading birds, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, Brown and American White Pelicans, Bald Eagle, and Swallow-tailed Kite. At Live Oak Landing, there will be an opportunity to explore on foot and enjoy lunch before a bus ride back to 5 Rivers. Note: This trip schedule coordinates with Bottle Creek trip 207.

Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
206: Thursday, Oct. 2 (7–9am)
DEPARTURE: Meet at Weeks Bay Marina 15 minutes before scheduled departure time
FEE: $25

With the aid of biologists from the Reserve and other birding experts, you will learn about the ecology of this beautiful estuary on a comfortable pontoon boat cruise on Weeks Bay, Fish River, and Magnolia River onboard the Weeks Bay Explorer. After the boat trip, you may choose to take a walk on a boardwalk through a bottomland hardwood swamp and/or a rare native pitcher plant bog, or enjoy the exhibits in the Reserve’s Interpretive Center. On the cruise, expect to see Brown Pelican, Royal Tern, Double-crested Cormorant, Laughing Gull, Osprey, Bald Eagle and nest, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Clapper Rail—and perhaps American alligator and bottlenose dolphins. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray. Note: Meet group at Weeks Bay Marina 15 minutes before scheduled departure time.

 

Bottle Creek Mound Island Adventure
207: Thursday, Oct. 2 (Noon–4:30pm)
DEPARTURE: Trip departs from 5 Rivers by bus for short drive upriver to boat dock
FEE: $50 – includes lunch

After a short bus ride from 5 Rivers, you will have time to enjoy a sack lunch at Live Oak Landing before boarding the Osprey for a journey deep into the Delta and back in time to the Mississippian Tribes of the 13th Century. Mound Island is accessible only by boat. Once there, this interpretive tour involves a reasonable hike, culminating in climbing the highest hand-built mound at 45 feet. Your guide from 5 Rivers Delta Safaris will introduce you to the fauna and flora of the middle Delta’s cypress swamps and to the history of the Native Americans who left this amazing legacy. Great birding can be found on the island as well as the miles of river bank we’ll explore. Wear closed toe shoes and bring bug spray. Boat returns to Live Oak Landing for bus ride back to 5 Rivers. Note: This trip schedule coordinates with Northbound Adventure trip 205.

Weeks Bay Sunset Cruise - NEW!
208: Thursday, Oct. 2 (5:00–7:00pm)
DEPARTURE: Meet at Weeks Bay Marina by 4:45pm
FEE: $25

A relaxing way to end your first day of BirdFest! Take a comfortable and 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. Sunsets on Weeks Bay in the fall can be spectacular, and we’ll position the boat perfectly giving you time to snap some great photos before heading back to dock. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray. Note: Meet at Weeks Bay Marina by no later than 4:45pm

 

BONUS Lower Delta Paddle
209: Thursday, Oct. 2 (4–7:00pm)
Departure: Bartram Landing at 5 Rivers
The Lower Delta marsh kayak tour, led by expert guides from Five Rivers Delta Safaris, treat visitors to a plethora of birdlife, including Great Blue Herons, Cormorants, Osprey, Egret, and Brown and American White Pelican, just to name a few. Nine months of the year, there is also a good chance you will turn a bend and encounter the American alligator in its natural habitat. Note: trip departs from Bartram Landing, located at 5 Rivers, just west of Delta Hall. Meet trip at Bartram Landing. Includes canoe or kayak, paddle & life jacket.
This trip available only through online registration.

 

Friday, October 3

Backcountry Trails & Graham Creek Nature Preserve
301: Friday, Oct. 3 (6:30am–2pm)
DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $43 – includes lunch

301A: Friday, Oct. 3
DEPARTURE: Meet bus at Backcountry trailhead at approx. 7:30am
(behind Orange Beach SportsPlex on William Silvers Parkway, just off Canal Road)
FEE: $23 – bring your own lunch

Enjoy a walk through a rare maritime forest on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, developed cooperatively by the City of Orange Beach and Gulf State Park. This remnant natural area acts as a lifeline for millions of migratory birds, providing food and shelter. Trip continues with a visit to Graham Creek Nature Preserve, a 484-acre tract owned by the City of Foley that is part of the Wolf Bay watershed, with open pine forest, wiregrass, and pitcher plant bogs. The combination of habitats is attractive to a high diversity of bird species including Northern Bobwhite, Loggerhead Shrike, numerous warblers, vireos, tanagers, sparrows, waders (along the creek), and raptors.

Blakeley Island Mud Ponds and William Brooks Park
302: Friday, Oct. 3 (6:30am–noon)
DEPARTURE: Carpool from 5 Rivers
FEE: $20

Blakeley Island on Mobile River is best known for large dredge disposal ponds that are the premier shore-birding spots in the state. William Brooks Park, managed by the City of Chickasaw, features a boardwalk and easy walk to a viewing pavilion. Check for waders, waterfowl, and Osprey in the open areas over the creek. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray.

Mobile Bay, Dauphin Island Sea Lab Research Vessel Alabama Discovery Cruise
303: Friday, Oct. 3 (6:30am–2pm)
DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $50 – includes lunch

303A: Friday, Oct. 3
DEPARTURE: Meet the bus at DISL at no later than 7:30am—boat leaves at 8am
FEE: $35 – bring your own lunch

Enjoy a cruise on Mobile Bay in the comfort and safety of the Alabama Discovery, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s 65-foot research vessel. View gulls and pelicans so close that you can see the movements of individual feathers. With the aid of marine biologists from DISL and our birding experts, you will learn the Bay’s history, ecology, and value, and view specimens caught in a trawl net. The trip includes a stop at the George F. Crozier Estuarium and might make a close-up pass of Alabama’s only lighthouse, the Sand Island Light. Expect to see Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Black Skimmer, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Forster’s Tern, Caspian Tern, and Herring Gull—and perhaps even bottlenose dolphins. Note: Thursday trip 204 & 204A will start with short shell mounds birding before boat ride.

Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
304: Friday, Oct. 3 (7–9am)
DEPARTURE: Meet at Weeks Bay Marina 15 minutes before scheduled departure time
FEE: $25

With the aid of biologists from the Reserve and other birding experts, you will learn about the ecology of this beautiful estuary on a comfortable pontoon boat cruise on Weeks Bay, Fish River, and Magnolia River onboard the Weeks Bay Explorer. After the boat trip, you may choose to take a walk on a boardwalk through a bottomland hardwood swamp and/or a rare native pitcher plant bog, or enjoy the exhibits in the Reserve’s Interpretive Center. On the cruise, expect to see Brown Pelican, Royal Tern, Double-crested Cormorant, Laughing Gull, Osprey, Bald Eagle and nest, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Clapper Rail—and perhaps American alligator and bottlenose dolphins. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray.
Note: Meet group at Weeks Bay Marina 15 minutes before scheduled departure time.

Bay Minette Basin Paddle
305: Friday, Oct. 3 (3-5pm)
DEPARTURE: Car pool from 5 Rivers at 3pm or meet at Buzbee’s Landing by approx. 3:15
FEE: $30 – includes canoe or kayak, paddle, life jacket, and launch fee
 
This beginner level paddle, led by experienced guides from 5 Rivers Delta Safaris, explores the marsh grass and shallow bays of Bay Minette Basin. Keep an eye out for Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, American Coot, Clapper Rail, Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen, and Osprey.

BirdFest Social with Speaker and Silent Auction
306: Friday, Oct. 3 (5:30–9pm)
LOCATION: Delta Hall at 5 Rivers
FEE: $35 (includes soft drinks, wine, beer & coffee)

Our Friday night event shares the same beautiful space as Wednesday’s reception, Delta Hall at 5 Rivers. Don’t forget your binoculars to enjoy the view from the back deck. Inside, you will experience true Southern hospitality and a delicious meal with barbecue, seafood, and tasty sides. The BirdFest silent auction, with original works from talented local photographers and artists plus other fun-to-have items, wraps up tonight, so place your highest bids!

After dinner, our keynote speaker, Dr. Erik Johnson, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Louisiana, will talk about his work to engage citizen-scientists to help monitor birds and implement conservation measures for species of concern across the Gulf Coast.

BONUS Lower Delta Paddle
307: Friday, Oct. 3 (8–11:00am)
Departure: Bartram Landing at 5 Rivers
Fee: $30
The Lower Delta marsh kayak tour, led by expert guides from Five Rivers Delta Safaris, treat visitors to a plethora of birdlife, including Great Blue Herons, Cormorants, Osprey, Egret, and Brown and American White Pelican, just to name a few. Nine months of the year, there is also a good chance you will turn a bend and encounter the American alligator in its natural habitat. Note: trip departs from Bartram Landing, located at 5 Rivers, just west of Delta Hall. Meet at Bartram Landing. Includes canoe or kayak, paddle & life jacket.

This is a bonus trip available only through online registration.

BONUS Lower Delta Sunset Cruise
308: Friday, Oct. 3 (5–7pm)
Departure: Bartram Landing at 5 Rivers
Fee: $25
Revel in the beauty of nature as the sun sets over the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Evening cruises are all about relaxation, and you'll enjoy this two-hour cruise onboard the Osprey, led by expert guides from Five Rivers Delta Safaris. You'll wind through the rivers, small bays, and tidal marshes before the Captain positions the vessel in just the right place at just the right time to capture the last light of the day. Note: trip departs from Bartram Landing, located at 5 Rivers, just west of Delta Hall. Meet at Bartram Landing. 

This is a bonus trip available only through online registration.

Saturday, Oct. 4

Fort Morgan Peninsula/Trans Gulf Migration Flyway and Hummer/Bird Study Group
401: Saturday, Oct. 4 (6:30am–2pm)
DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $43 – includes lunch

401A: Saturday, Oct. 4
DEPARTURE: Meet bus outside gate to Fort Morgan at approx. 7:30am
FEE: $23 – bring own lunch

The American Bird Conservancy calls Fort Morgan one of the top “Globally Important Bird Areas” in the U.S. This trip visits the banding site of Bob Sargent and the Hummer/Bird Study Group that bands and records the health of 2,000-4,000 birds of 85-90 species over a two-week period every spring and fall. You might get to hold a bird in your hand and release it into the air. The trip also visits the open areas and shoreline of Fort Morgan Historical Park, all part of a vital Trans Gulf Migration Flyway. On this trip, expect to see Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Palm Warbler, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Catbird, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Broad-winged Hawk, Merlin, and American Kestrel. Extensive walking in brush and sand. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray.

Dauphin Island Shorebirds
402: Saturday, Oct. 4 (6:30am–2pm)
DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $43 – includes lunch

402A: Saturday, Oct. 4
DEPARTURE: Meet bus on Dauphin Island at Cadillac Square Park at approx. 7:30am
FEE: $23 – bring your own lunch

Dauphin Island has been called one of the “ten most globally important sites” for bird migration. This tour includes a visit to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, a 164-acre protected oasis of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, and to Pelican “Island,” a narrow strip of land that used to surround Sand Island Lighthouse but is now usually attached to Dauphin Island. On this trip, expect to see Red Knot, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Willet, Piping Plover, Black Tern, Semipalmated Plover, Laughing Gull, Brown Pelican, and Black Skimmer. Note: Wear shoes that can get wet and pants that can be rolled up in case you have to wade a short distance to Pelican Island.

Bayou La Batre, Forever Wild Grand Bay Savanna, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge,
and Point aux Pins
403: Saturday, Oct. 4 (6:30am–2pm)

DEPARTURE: Ride bus from 5 Rivers
FEE: $43 – includes lunch

The Nature Conservancy has called this area one of the “Last Great Places on Earth,” thanks to the amazing bio-diversity found here. For generations, fishing, shrimping, and oyster harvesting have been big businesses here. Birding concentrates on waterbirds, shorebirds, and marsh species, although passerines and raptors can be abundant in the fall. On this trip, you might see Marsh and Sedge Wrens, Seaside and Swamp Sparrows, American Oystercatcher, Black-necked Stilt, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Great Egret, and Mottled Duck. This is a moderate walking trip. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray.

Blakeley Island Mud Ponds and William Brooks Park
404: Saturday, Oct. 4 (6:30am–noon)
DEPARTURE: Carpool from 5 Rivers
FEE: $20

Blakeley Island on Mobile River is best known for large dredge disposal ponds that are the premier shore-birding spots in the state. William Brooks Park, managed by the City of Chickasaw, features a boardwalk and easy walk to a viewing pavilion. Check for waders, waterfowl, and Osprey in the open areas over the creek. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray.

Lower Mobile-Tensaw River Delta Osprey Cruise
405: Saturday, Oct. 4 (7–9:00am)
DEPARTURE: Cruise departs from 5 Rivers
FEE: $25

Wind your way through open river, small bays, tidal marshes, and mud flats of the Lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta onboard the Osprey, led by a guide from 5 Rivers Delta Safaris. Designated as a National Natural Landmark by Congress, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is home to an abundance of wildlife and vegetation, including over 300 bird species. Look for Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Boat-tailed Grackle, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, White Ibis, Wilson’s Snipe, Laughing Gull, and Willet. You might also see frogs, nutria, northern raccoon, and American alligators! Bring bug spray.

Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Weeks Bay Explorer Cruise
406: Saturday, Oct. 4 (10am–noon)
DEPARTURE: Meet at Weeks Bay Marina 15 minutes before scheduled departure time
FEE: $25

With the aid of biologists from the Reserve and other birding experts, you will learn about the ecology of this beautiful estuary on a comfortable pontoon boat cruise on Weeks Bay, Fish River, and Magnolia River onboard the Weeks Bay Explorer. After the boat trip, you may choose to take a walk on a boardwalk through a bottomland hardwood swamp and/or a rare native pitcher plant bog, or enjoy the exhibits in the Reserve’s Interpretive Center. On the cruise, expect to see Brown Pelican, Royal Tern, Double-crested Cormorant, Laughing Gull, Osprey, Bald Eagle and nest, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Clapper Rail—and perhaps American alligator and bottlenose dolphins. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring bug spray. Note: Meet group at Weeks Bay Marina 15 minutes before scheduled departure time.

Delta Sunset Wine Tasting Cruise
407: Saturday, Oct. 4 (5–7pm)
DEPARTURE: Cruise departs from 5 Rivers
FEE: $35 – includes wine & light hors d’oeuvres

What a way to wrap up BirdFest! Wind your way through open rivers, small bays, tidal marshes, and mud flats onboard the Osprey while enjoying wine and light snacks. As the sun sets, the Captain positions the vessel in the right place at the right time to enjoy a Delta sunset. Relax, wind down, and let nature’s beauty unfold. Look for Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Boat-tailed Grackle, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, White Ibis, Wilson’s Snipe, Laughing Gull, and Willet. You might also see frogs, nutria, northern raccoon, and American alligators.

BONUS Mud Flats Paddle
408: Saturday, Oct. 4
Departure: Bartram Landing at 5 Rivers
Fee: $30

This beginner-level paddle will take you through the mudflats and marsh grass habitat around Meaher State Park and the lower Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. There is no better way to experience birds of the delta than aboard a canoe or kayak, led by experienced guides from 5 Rivers Delta Safaris. You might see Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, American Coot, Belted Kingfisher, Brown Pelican, and Clapper Rail. Note: trip departs from Bartram Landing, located at 5 Rivers, just west of Delta Hall. Meet at Bartram Landing. Includes canoe or kayak, paddle & life jacket.
This is a bonus trip available only through online registration.

 

 

 

 

 





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