AAS Field Trips
Please join us! Non-members are always welcome.
All AAS field trips are free to all – membership is not required. Some locations have an entrance fee which is the responsibility of the attendee. Participants are required to sign our waiver/release form. A contribution to our liability insurance of $1-$2 per person is optional. Please note the difficulty levels at the end of each field trip description. Here are some items to consider carrying on any field trip: binoculars (a must), water, insect repellant, sunscreen, hat, sturdy shoes, rain gear for sudden downpours, notebook, camera, contact information.
Below is our field trip schedule. View the schedule and descriptions/details on each field trip in our calendar (below) and in our latest newsletter.
Upcoming Field Trips (Winter/Spring 2023)
Sunday, March 12th, 2023; 6:00 am.
Ocala National Forest
This trip will provide an opportunity to explore beautiful Florida scrub and longleaf pine habitat in the Ocala National Forest and see some species that are not found in Alachua County. Since our destination is a bit far, we will be leaving earlier than usual for this field trip.Expect to return around 11:30am-12:00pm.
IMPORTANT: Sunday, March 12 is Daylight Savings, so please remember to set your clocks forward one hour.
Meet trip leader and ornithologist Roxy Ohanyan at 6:00 AM in the NE corner of the parking lot of Publix Supermarket at Williston Plaza (in Gainesville). The address is 5200 SW 34th St, Gainesville, FL 32608 (Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/N92YWrLUPHZg9BHw8). There will consolidate vehicles so we can carpool/caravan down to Ocala NF at 6:15am. Our first stop will be a patch of Florida scrub and adjoining clearcuts and sand pine forest. The site is just south of the intersection of Forest Roads 88 and 46 (Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/DjSRim4gSufwVwbK9). For reference, head east on Hwy 316 out of Fort McCoy for about 9 miles, until you reach Forest Road 88. Turn right, and head south on FR88 for 10 miles. We should arrive at around 7:25am.
Our target species in this area will be Florida scrub jay, Red-headed woodpecker, Northern flicker, merlin, American Kestrel, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern towhee, and Bachman’s sparrow. After exploring the scrub, we will head north to a patch of longleaf pine to look for red-cockaded woodpeckers. The site is located 0.6 miles west of the intersection of FR88 and Hwy 314 (Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/Ek4uoPbrYLug3nGS9).
Besides Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, we will also look for Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman’s Sparrow, and Hairy Woodpecker.
Please note: We will be walking on unpaved, sandy surfaces, and may go off-trail in some areas. We might encounter snakes, cacti, and shrubby vegetation. Long pants, long sleeves, and sturdy, closed-toe shoes are HIGHLY recommended. Florida scrub habitat is exposed, with no shade, so please make sure to bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and lots of water. The forecast is currently calling for a bit of rain, so bring rain gear just in case.
There are no restrooms in the area, but there are some gas stations on the way. If you are confused about any of the locations/directions, please message Roxy (Araks) Ohanyan on Facebook.
Saturday, March 18th, 2023, 8:00 am.
Longleaf Flatwoods Preserve (CLEP*)
Meet trip leader Stephen Hofstetter at the Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve on CR-325. We’ll hope to see Bachman’s Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-headed Woodpecker, and others, but they won’t be our primary quarry; we’ll be looking at everything – trees, wildflowers, insects, reptiles, whatever we find. Drive east on Hawthorne Rd. to CR-325, then right on CR-325 for 2.3 miles.
*Conservation Lands Education Program (CLEP) Trips noted as CLEP highlight lands that protect plant and animal life and focus on their history and uniqueness.
Saturday March 25, 2023, 8:00 am
Hague Dairy (University of Florida Dairy Unit)
Meet trip leader Zachery Holmes at the dairy where we will be searching for sparrows, blackbirds, raptors, and any western strays. We will hope for water levels conducive to shorebirds and/or waterfowl as well. Park on the western side of the complex, labeled Classroom Parking. Trip participants are asked to respect and defer to the workers and cows in an effort to maintain our amicable relationship with the dairy staff. We will sign in at the office.
Note: There are no restrooms on site
Sunday, April 2, 2023, 8:00 am Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, La Chua Trail
4801 Camp Ranch Road, Gainesville, FL Meet trip leader Jose-Miguel Ponciano at the La Chua trailhead parking lot. La Chua has been one of the most productive birding locations in the county. The myriad habitats found within the park support an abundant and diverse bird population including wading birds, waterfowl, raptors, warblers, and others. We will be on the lookout for arriving spring migrants drawn in to the prairie to refuel for their journey northwards.
Saturday, April 15, 2023, 8:00 am Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Bolen Bluff Trail
Located on the east side of US 441, Micanopy, FL Meet trip leader Tim Hardin at the Bolen Bluff trailhead parking lot. This trail has historically been one of the more productive spots to detect both spring and fall migrants moving through the county. If there is a rare bird present, Tim is the person to find it. Bison and wild horses are also frequently present. Difficulty 2. Sunday, April 16, 2023, 8:00 am Newnan’s Lake State Forest–Lake Pithlachocco (East) Trail, 921 NE 55th Blvd, Gainesville, FL Meet trip leaders Adam and Gina Kent at the parking lot for the Lake Pithlachocco (East) Trail of the Newnan’s Lake State Forest. This 2.5 mile trail offers an interesting variety of both upland and wetland forested habitats which will hopefully draw a variety of spring migrants. Some areas may be muddy and/or wet so wear appropriate footwear.
Saturday, April 22, 2023, 8:00 am Turkey Creek Preserve
6300 NW 93rd Ave, Gainesville, FL 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. 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.
Saturday, April 29, 2023, 8:00 am Palm Point/Lakeshore Drive
7401 Lake Shore Dr, Gainesville, FL. Meet trip leader Jose-Miguel Ponciano at Palm Point to look for migrant warblers, tanagers, and thrushes. The Palm Point and Lakeshore Drive area is a local magnet for spring and fall migrants. Trip participants will search for them in the live oaks and cypress trees of the park, as well as the upland and wetland forested habitats along Lakeshore Drive.
Past Field Trips
Friday, November 11th, 2022; 8:00 am
UF/”Hague” Dairy…Sparrows edition! PLUS Cellon Creek Boulevard
Fresh off his recent discovery of the only Dickcissel reported in North Central Florida this year, trip leader and super-sharp local birder Ben Fick will show us around one of the county’s best spots for sparrows, blackbirds, and raptors–and occasionally rare western vagrants like Yellow-headed Blackbird, Vermillion Flycatcher, and Western Kingbird.
Many sparrows have already arrived for the winter so we’ll aim to spot Lincoln’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and several other sparrow species. We may also see some lingering Fall migrants in addition to the ducks and shorebirds that are hanging around the (locally) famous (or infamous?) “lagoon”. We will likely end up with 60+ species by the time the trip is over. When we finish there, you’re invited to join us at nearby Cellon Creek Boulevard a short 7-minute drive away for follow-on birding, with the highlight being a beautiful rare Vermillion Flycatcher currently drawing birders and photographers from all over the region.
We’ll meet up at the usual designated grassy parking area near the classroom (exact location via Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/dSFWvPxyw4y3hBim6) on the western side of the complex, demarcated with a sign reading “Classroom parking”, right across from the painted sign that has a gator milking a cow.
(Walking over uneven ground or distances of 1-2 miles)
Sunday, November 13th, 2022; 8:00 am
San Felasco Park (NOT San Felasco Hammock State Park)
Possessing unusual dual talents for both advanced birding AND wildlife photography, trip leader and ornithologist Roxy Ohanyan will guide us around this very under-birded hotspot which boasts prime habitat for many species favoring its pine flat woods, cypress swamps, and mixed hardwood forests, such as Kinglets, Pine Warblers, Swamps Sparrows, Towhees, and other woodland species.
Meetup is at the parking lot/playground/restrooms at 6400 NW 43rd Way, Gainesville, FL 32653 (just north of Devil’s Millhopper). This location has produced rare Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, and Fox Sparrows in the past so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that something unexpected will turn up. Maybe even a daytime Woodcock! You never know… Along the power line cut we should see mixed foraging flocks of warblers, vireos, and the usual suspects, as well as several sparrow species like Song Sparrow in the wide grassy margins. This trail is rather comfortable and flat, with significant portions having improved/hard surfaces.
More info on this park here:
(Walking over uneven ground or distances of 1-2 miles)
Saturday December 3, 2022
Lake City Treatment Wetlands
Meet trip leader and Alachua Audubon chapter president Debbie Segal in the parking lot of Hitchcock’s grocery store on US-441 in Alachua to carpool to the treatment wetlands near Lake City (you can also meet us at 8:30 at the SS Food Store a block west of I-75 at Exit #423).
The Lake City Treatment Wetlands, opened in 2016, is a series of nine wetland cells constructed to treat Lake City wastewater.
We hope to see a plethora of waterfowl, wading birds, and perhaps some rarities walk the dikes separating the cells. This site is not open to the public and the gate will be closed after we enter the site, so please don’t be late!
(Walking over uneven ground or distances of 1-2 miles)
Sunday, December 18, 2022, SPECIAL EVENT
Gainesville Christmas Bird Count
Contact count organizers Andy Kratter (email@example.com; 352-226-2462) or Bob Carroll (firstname.lastname@example.org; 352-281-3616) if you’re interested in participating in this all-day event. Please sign up early.
Difficulty: various, depending on location.
Dudley Farm Historic State Park, January 1, 2023, 9:30 am.
A second, more leisurely New Year’s Day bird walk. Join us at Dudley Farm – a wonderful place to visit. Meet Tedd Greenwald and Mary Ellen Flowers at the Visitor Center. Bluebirds, Kestrels, Pileated Woodpeckers and more are expected. After birding, there is an old farmhouse to visit, some outbuildings, a garden, a gift shop and a small museum. The address is 18730 W Newberry Rd, Newberry. Entrance fee is $5 per vehicle unless you have an annual state park pass. Dudley Farm is on the US National Register of Historic Places and is a designated National Historic Landmark.
Thursday, January 19, 2023, 9:00 am.
Bird Ramble* at Barr Hammock Preserve
Join us for a leisurely Bird Ramble at Barr Hammock Preserve. The Preserve is off 441 just before you get to the town of Micanopy. Heading south from Gainesville on 441, turn right (west) onto SE Wacahoota Road, cross over I-75, then turn left on SE 11th Drive. Follow the road around for 1/2 a mile until you come to the parking area. The address is 14920 SE 11th Dr, Micanopy, FL 32667. You can read more about Barr Hammock Preserve here. We will be taking the Levy Loop for a mile or so, and then backtrack to our starting point. (The entire loop is 6.5 miles.) The trail is wide and flat and mostly shaded. There are no restrooms on site.
*Bird Rambles are more leisurely field trips on shorter, easier trails. They are typically scheduled on a weekday and are more accessible to retired birders and/or those with some mobility issues. Contact us if you would like additional information.
Friday Evening through Sunday, January 20-22, 2023.
Tall Timbers Research Station and St Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge
What did Florida look like 200 years ago? Join us at Tall Timbers Research Station (TTRS) near Tallahassee and find out. We’ll tour the research station area and Sunday, January 1, 2023; 8:00 am learn the important role fire plays in upland ecosystems. We will search for White-breasted & Brown-headed Nuthatches, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Bachman’s, Henslow’s and Grasshopper sparrows, to name a few. Jim Cox (director of the Stoddard Bird Lab at TTRS) will be our trip leader. Included in this field trip will be a birding trip to St Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday afternoon and led by Don Marrow, and then another bird outing on Sunday to a splendid longleaf pine forest. Tall Timbers Research Station has a lodge with eight rooms available for rent at $50.00 per night for single occupancy or $70 per night for double occupancy. Each room has two twin beds, and the lodge has a full kitchen facility available for our use (although you are welcome to secure other lodging). Camping is available next to the Lodge for $25 per night. Pre-registration for field trip attendance is required by calling or visiting Wild Birds Unlimited (352-381-1997). Since there is a limited number of lodge rooms to rent, pre-registration for lodging or camping is also required. Meet at Tall Timbers at 3:00 PM on Friday (13093 Henry Beadel Rd, Tallahassee, FL 32312) to bird around the lovely forest, including seeing roosting Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.
Saturday, January 28, 2023, 8:00 am
Hickory Ranch Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
The prairie basin at Hickory Ranch is one of the most bird-active and diverse parts of the prairie this winter but it’s only accessible by special arrangements with park management, and will require pre- registration at Wild Birds Unlimited to attend. Join Friends of Paynes Prairie board member and park volunteer Bubba Scales for this special event. Hickory Ranch provides an opportunity to view wintering flocks of ducks, Sandhill Cranes, and other waterbirds. The field trip will be limited to 20 people, however, a second group of 20 may be considered depending on the interest. Meet at the Hickory Ranch facilities at 9300 CR 234, Micanopy. (This location is about 1.5 miles west of Cones Dike.) The ground is uneven and likely will be wet and muddy so waterproof shoes are suggested. Please do not be late as you will
not be allowed to walk unattended at this site.
Saturday, February 4, 2023, 8:00 am.
Alligator Lake Park with Four Rivers Audubon
Meet in the pavilion/main parking lot in Colombia County where trip leaders from our neighboring Audubon chapter will lead us as we bird the first 100 yards or so of the central dike and then the Montgomery Trail on the main dike that surrounds this marshy 338-acre lake. We will be looking for waterfowl, wading birds, and woodland species. This site has often produced unusual birds. The entrance is off SE Country Club Road at 420 SE Alligator Glen in Lake City.
Difficulty: 2-3 depending on your level of participation.
Sunday, February 19, 2023,
Prairie Creek Banding Lab
[Cancelled/postponed due to major event on 2/18–Backyard Birding Tour]
Meet AAS board member and banding lab director, Jonathan Varol, at the Prairie Creek Bird Banding Lab (7204 Co Rd 234, Gainesville, FL 32641). We will walk the trails to check the mist nests, and watch AAS volunteers and spring college interns as they carefully extract the netted birds, collect scientific data, and then band and release the birds.
Saturday, February 25, 2023, 8:00 am.
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
Lake Apopka, the fourth largest lake in Florida, 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 flowway 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. We should see a large number of bird species. Wintering ducks are a highlight. Bring scopes if you have them since ducks may be far away in the impoundments. We should see over 70 species. Meet trip leader Alan Shapiro at 8:00 am to explore this birding hotspot. The address is 2850 Lust Rd, Apopka. Take I-75 South to the Turnpike South, and then get on 429 North. Get off on OcoeeApopka Road and head north. Go left on Harmon, then right on Binion, then left on Lust Road. Gather at the small parking area on the right just before the gate at the Wildlife Drive entrance where Alan will be waiting. From Gainesville, meet at the Target parking lot on Archer Road at 6:00 am to carpool so we minimize the number of cars on the wildlife drive. If anyone wants to stick around, we can go for lunch and Alan will take us to another area in the afternoon.
Saturday, March 4th, 2023; 8:00 am.
Fox Pen Preserve
Meet Danny Rohan (352-281-5921) at the trailhead and parking area located near 10777 Holden Park Road in Hawthorne (2.6 miles down Holden Park Road off Highway 301). Managed by Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT), this 578-acre preserve contains a diverse mix of longleaf sandhill habitat, flatwoods, wetlands, mesic hammock, and shoreline of Moss Lee Lake. We will visit the North Florida Sandhills Grassland Bird Habitat Restoration site, a multi-year restoration project with AAS, ACT, UF GREBE, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to learn about the ongoing work to expand grassland bird habitat in the region.
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.