Alachua Audubon Society

A chapter of the National Audubon Society

AAS Field Trips


Below is our Spring 2022 field trip schedule. You can view the AAS Field Trip schedule and descriptions/details on each field trip here.


Upcoming Field Trips

Saturday, April 30, 2022 8:00 am
Chapman’s Pond and Nature Trails

Meet trip leader Barbara Shea at the grassy parking lot on the east side of the Pond (behind & east of Veterans Memorial Park). We will start by scanning the pond of this water treatment facility for water birds, swallows, and songbirds. Then we will hike the surrounding 1.5 miles of trail past other water features through dry oak woods and open mowed lawns seeking various passerines and raptors, migrants and returning residents alike. Turn off SW 75th St. (Tower Rd.) onto SW 41 Place. Go east just over 1/2 mile where the road curves and joins 63rd Blvd. and the parking lot will be on the left.

Difficulty: 2 (Walking over uneven ground or distances of 1-2 miles)

Saturday, May 7, 2022 @ 8:00 AM
Bell Ridge Longleaf Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA)

Bell Ridge is a 720-acre property with a 3.1-mile trail winding through what has been described as “one of the highest quality longleaf pine sandhill forest tracts in Florida.” Join trip leaders Mary Ellen Flowers and Tedd Greenwald at the trailhead at 1008 Four Mile Road (SE 65 Ave) in Trenton (off CR 232 between US 41 (from Newberry) and SR 47 (from Trenton). We’ll be looking for both resident and summer breeding species such as Summer Tanagers, Bachman’s Sparrows, Red-headed Woodpeckers, American Kestrels, and other longleaf-savannah denizens. Hairy Woodpeckers have been reported here.

Difficulty: 2 (Walking over uneven ground or distances of 1-2 miles)

Sunday, May 15, 2022 @ 8:00 AM
San Felasco State Park – US-441/”Progress Park” Trailhead

Meet trip leader Tim Hardin, who expects us to see summer residents like Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, and Summer Tanagers, as well as some lingering or late migrant songbirds, and possibly some shorebirds in the flooded areas.
According to the Florida State Parks, this 7,360 acre park has one of the few remaining mature forests in Florida and is one of the finest examples of the climax mesic hammock.
It is believed that there was a late 17th century mission called San Francisco de Potano. Named for the American Indian culture living in the area when the Spanish arrived. Artifacts found here indicate human habitation since at least 8,000 BCE. Wonder what birds they saw…?
The park has a $4 per vehicle entrance fee (or free with annual state park pass).
Trailhead is located at 13201 Progress Park Blvd, off 441, south of the city of Alachua.
Difficulty: 3 (Elevation change, uneven ground, and/or distances greater than 2 miles)

Saturday, May 21, 2022 8:00 a.m.
Longleaf Flatwoods Preserve (CLEP*)

Meet trip leader Steve Hofstetter at the Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve on CR-325. The 2,742-acre preserve has wide unpaved trails that go through sandhill, and mesic flatwoods, skirting cypress swamps. Alachua County Forever provided funding for it’s purchase and is jointly owned/managed by Alachua County and the St John’s Water Management District. The positive influence of prescribed burns here helps maintain habitat for multiple species of interest including the Bachman’s Sparrow and Northern Bobwhite. We’ll hope to see Bachman’s Sparrows (and hear them singing), Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-headed Woodpecker, and others, but we’ll be looking at everything – trees, wildflowers, insects, reptiles, whatever we find – an opportunity to expand your perspective to the diversify of life around us. Directions: East on Hawthorne Rd. to CR-325, right on CR-325 for 2.3 miles. Difficulty: 3.

*Conservation Lands Education Program (CLEP)
Trips noted as CLEP highlight lands that protect plant and animal life and focus on their history and uniqueness.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 6:00 a.m.
June Challenge Kick-off!

Meet Rex Rowan in the parking corral of Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve (on CR-325, 2.3 miles south of SR-20 (Hawthorne Rd)) to kick off our annual summer birding contest. We’ll try to find Chuck-will’s-widow, Common Nighthawk, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Bachman’s Sparrow at Longleaf (your chances for Chuck-will’s-widow are better if you get there at 5:45). Next we’ll go to Windsor to scope Newnans Lake for Bald Eagles and Laughing Gulls. If time allows, we’ll also visit Powers Park and/or Palm Point for additional views of Newnans Lake and possibly some late migrants. Our last stop will be Sweet-water Wetlands Park ($5 per vehicle entry fee, payable on smartphone app) to search for Limpkin, King Rail, Least Bittern, Gray-headed Swamphen, and Purple Gallinule. We’ll be done by lunchtime with
40-50 species on our June Challenge lists. Difficulty: 3.

 


Previous Field Trips (for March through April 2022 only)

Sunday, March 06, 2022 8:00am
Barr Hammock – Levy Lake Loop

Meet trip leader Matt Bruce for a walk along the Levy Lake dike trail at Barr Hammock Preserve. You’ll have the option to walk the whole 6.5-mile loop, but Matt will announce a good turn-around point for those who don’t want to go the whole way. We’ll be birding marsh, wet prairie, and woodland edges in search of wintering warblers, wrens, and sparrows. To reach the trailhead, drive south from Gainesville on US-441. Across from Lake Wauberg, turn right onto Wacahoota Road (County Road 18). Go roughly half a mile and, just after the I-75 overpass, turn left on SE 11th Dr. and continue all the way down to the parking area.
Difficulty: 1, 2, or 3, depending on how far you walk.
Saturday, March 12, 2022 8:00am (CLEP)
Mill Creek Preserve

This field trip was cancelled due to severe rain/adverse weather. (effective 3/11/2022)

Meet trip leader Stephen Hofstetter in the Preserve parking lot. 14505 NW County Road 236, Alachua 32615. The parking lot is off SR 241. This was the first purchase of the Alachua County Forever program – 1,190 acres of deep hardwood forest containing the southernmost stand of beech trees in North America. We’ll walk through this beautiful and ecologically valuable tract of conservation land, enjoying its flora and fauna – and birds! Hopefully some beautiful spring weather as well.

Difficulty: 2.

Saturday, March 19, 2022 9:00am
Special Beginning Birder’s Walk – Sweetwater Wetlands Park
Meet trip leader Jacob Ewert for a specialized stroll around one of Gainesville’s best birding locations. This trip is specifically designed for beginning birders. We will slow our pace down and focus on some birding basics and on improving identification skills in a relaxed environment. We’ll look at herons, egrets, ducks, and other wetland-dependent bird species. $5.00 entrance fee per vehicle.
Difficulty: 1.
Sunday, March 20, 2022 8:00
Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA)
Meet trip leaders Kelly and Jason O’Connor at the parking corral of the Watermelon Pond WEA on SW 250th Street, approximately 2 miles south of SW 46th Avenue, to experience this interesting “upland wetland” area in southwest Alachua County. We’ll be on the lookout for lingering winter and resident species of open country habitats such as American kestrels and various sparrows. We may even get a chance to see an Eastern fox squirrel or two.
Difficulty 3.
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
Meet at the Gainesville Target at 06:00am / Apopka Trailhead at 8:00am
Lake Apopka is in the headwaters of the Ocklawaha chain of lakes. It has been the site of significant marsh and floodplain restoration and the creation of a marsh flow-way system that filters Lake Apopka’s waters by circulating lake water through restored wetlands. The wildlife drive meanders for 11 miles through the eastern portion of the property. Meet an AAS volunteer at the Target Parking lot on Archer Rd. at 06:00am to caravan to Apopka. We will meet trip leader Alan Shapiro at 8:00 am to explore this birding hotspot. Gather at the small parking area on the right just before the gate at the Wildlife Drive entrance
Difficulty: 1.
Sunday, April 3, 2022 8:00am
Poe Springs Park Meet trip leader Tim Hardin in the parking lot of Poe Springs Park, 28800 NW 182 Ave (Poe Springs Road / NE CR 340) High Springs. Poe Springs is a lovely Alachua County park located on the bank of the Santa Fe River. This park can be one of the better warbler spots in the county during fall migration, but can also be impressive during our brief spring migration period. Never any guarantees, but hard to find in-county warblers such as Canada, Golden-winged, Kentucky, and Cerulean Warblers have been recorded here. It can be a bit muddy in places, so waterproof footwear or old shoes are recommended. Park entrance fee $5.00.
Difficulty: 2
Saturday, April 9, 2022 8:00am
Serenola Forest Preserve – Idylwild Trailhead
Opened in 2019 in partnership with Alachua County and the Florida Communities Trust, Serenola Forest Preserve is a 111-acre nature preserve owned and managed by the Alachua Conservation Trust. This preserve is located in the Idylwild neighborhood in southwest Gainesville, and it is in these same woods where the locally infamous Idylwild Cowgirls galloped their ponies from one mischief to another five decades ago. Join AAS and ACT for a joint outing at this preserve – first, a bird walk led by Sue and Darrell Hartman and Debbie Segal, followed by a short book presentation by author Debbie Segal about the gang of Idylwild Cowgirls. ACT’s Outreach Coordinator, Lianne D’Arcy, will also describe the ecology and management of the Serenola Forest Preserve. 4706-4798 SW 20th Terrace.
Difficulty: 1.
Sunday, April 10, 2022 8:00 am
Powers Park/Palm Point Meet trip leader Barbara Shea in the parking lot of Earl Powers Park on SR 20 Hawthorne Road. We will explore Newnans Lake from the fishing pier and scan the trees and along the boat channel for migrant warblers and tanagers. Then we’ll travel to nearby Palm Point and Lakeshore Drive for more migrants in the live oak and cypress trees.
Difficulty 1.
Saturday, April 16, 2022 8:00am
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park – Bolen Bluff Trail Meet trip leader Bubba Scales at the Bolen Bluff trailhead on US-441. Bolen Bluff is one of Gainesville’s perennial favorite birding locations, especially during spring and fall songbird migration, which should be peaking now. Entry fee $2.00/vehicle.
Difficulty: 2
Sunday, April 17, 2022 8:00am
River Stix by Kayak
Bring your own kayak or canoe for this trip. We’ll start out by paddling upstream a short distance through cypress swamp. Next, we’ll head south through a network of narrow waterways that transect the expansive marsh that dominates the northern portion of Orange Lake. This can be a very good area to get close views of Prothonotary Warbler and many other wetland bird species. Heading south on US-441 from Gainesville, go about two miles past the main entrance for Paynes Prairie, then turn left onto CR-346. Continue for about three miles before reaching a small bridge over River Styx. Park anywhere along the roadside after crossing over to the east side of the bridge and meet trip leader Matt Bruce.
Difficulty: 3.
Sunday, April 24, 2022 8:00am
Turkey Creek Preserve
Officially opened in 2021, this 376-acre preserve with 5 miles of trails gives us a chance to see many ecosystems. These include basin swamp, depression marsh, bottomland forest, hydric hammock, upland hardwood forest, black water streams and sinkholes. The preserve buffers adjacent San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park and our drinking water. Spring migration should still be active and bringing us a good variety of birds. We will take a casual 2-3 mile walk guided by Tim Hardin. Trails are well-marked, mostly wide and relatively flat. Meet at the main trailhead parking lot at 6300 NW 93rd Ave.
Difficulty: 2

Our guided Wednesday bird walks at Sweetwater Wetlands Park are held each Wednesday morning beginning at 8:30 am from September 1st through the end of May.

PLEASE JOIN US! NON-MEMBERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

Here are some items to consider carrying on any field trip: binoculars (a must), water, bug spray, sunscreen, hat, sturdy shoes, rain gear for sudden downpours, notebook, camera, contact information

Information for Field Trip Leaders

 

Alachua Audubon Events Calendar

Last Updated May 11th, 2022, Karen Brown

16 Comments

  1. Plan on coming to the walk this Sunday morning at the LaChua Trail. Been quite a while since I have been there. Don’t you have to stop at the main entrance to Paine’s Prairie & pay admission before you can go to the LaChua trailhead?

    • There is a fee to visit the LaChua trail. It is part of the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and there is a $6/vehicle fee.

  2. I would like to come out to your walk on Sunday, 8/29/2021 to Watermelon Pond. Do I need to sign up? I am a past member but need to renew my membership which I will do.
    I have a question about length of walk, both distance and time-wise.
    Thank you.
    Alice Horst

    • I apologize for the delay in responding. I missed your message. You do not need to sign up before hand. Just show up at the meeting place. We appreciate your membership but that too is not required. Everyone is welcome on the field trips. This particular trip has a time rating of “B” (so 3-4 hours all told) and a difficulty of 2 (so in the area of 1-2 miles total). Both those figures are approximate of course, sometimes you don’t make it much past the parking lot when the birding is good!

  3. Would also like to join.

    Please advise when you meet.

    • Since we are already approaching what would normally be the end of the field trip season we will not be scheduling any field trips until the cycle begins again in the fall. We will be working this summer to put together that list so keep an eye out for it.

      The only field trip that we are currently running is the Birds & Brews trip which happens the first Sunday of every month out of First Magnitude Brewing. The time fluctuates a bit but the next walk will meet at 6:15 and head out at 6:30.

      • Will you meet 7/4/21 at First Magnitude?

        • Yes we will. We debated whether or not anyone would show up but time has shown that you never can tell how many people will attend. Some of our field trips least likely to have good attendance have turned out to be our best! So we will be there.

  4. Will you be having any virtual meetings in September? Would like to join your chapter.

  5. Sorry for the very late response. I forwarded your note about the book to the authors. Yes, Bachman’s Sparrows can generally be found at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve. Best time to find them is in spring and early summer when they perch up on shrubs and small trees and sing.

    Debbie Segal

  6. Good morning,
    I’m an old eHoosier Snowbird –
    We used to stay near Trenton but in-laws moves to Tampa area, so……
    MAIN reason for writing – while at Trenton I found a copy of Mr Rowan’s &Mr Manetz‘s
    “A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Alachua County”
    I would like to opine that it’s the Best, most complete, thorough, organized and easy to follow Guide of this type I’ve yet to find!!
    SECOND reason for writing – I’ve been rereading parts of said Guide and wonder
    “Are the Bachmans still GUARANTEED at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve?????”
    Thanks – for the guide and a “very likely” is sufficient

  7. Unable to move the calendar past January. Any suggestions?

  8. Hello, I was wondering if there will be a field trip to see the burrowing owls this summer at Watermelon Pond? Or is it possible to locate them outside a field trip?
    Thank you,
    Cecilia Carey
    member Seminole Audubon Society

    • We’ll be holding our annual Burrowing Owl field trip on June 3rd this year. We’ll meet at Watermelon Pond at 7:30 a.m. and the county biologists will escort us across the fields to the owl colony. If you watch the “Birding Reports” on this web site ( http://www.alachuaaudubon.org/bird-reports/ ), or follow the Alachua Audubon Society Facebook page, you’ll see the announcement.

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