Category Archives: Birding Florida

5 Reasons to Attend the 2016 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

The 2016 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival runs from January 20th to the 25th and is held in Brevard County, Florida. Here is a list of 5 reason why I think you should attend!

1. The Birds – Obviously. The main reason birders go to festivals is to see birds and get as many lifers as possible. Merritt Island NWR (more below), Daytona Beach, and Viera Wetlands are among the more popular birding locations. Click on the photo and type Brevard County, FL into the Location box and learn more about the birding hotspots within a short drive of the festival headquarters. Here’s a list of birds seen during the 2015 festival.

Brevard County, Florida eBird Hotspots. Credit: eBird.org.

Brevard County, Florida eBird Hotspots. Credit: eBird.org.

2. The Keynote Speakers – There’s an impressive lineup of Keynote Speakers for the 2016 festival, including Dr. Steven W. Kress of the National Audubon Society, Giff Beaton, a leading authority on Odonata and other fauna, James Currie of Birding Adventures TV,┬áKevin Karlson & Dale Rosselet, authors of the new Birding by Impression: A Different Approach to Knowing and Identifying Birds, and Steve N.G. Howell of WINGS. Read more about the speakers here.

3. The Field Trips & Workshops – There is an exhaustive list of field trips and workshops for this year’s festival, way too many to list here. I will say that there are a few digiscoping workshops, most discussing digiscoping with a DSLR, but one by Clay Taylor highlighting phonescoping! Read more about field trips here and workshops here.

Red-shouldered Hawk in Brevard County, Florida on January 22, 2015. Digiscoped with a Samsung Galaxy S4 + Vortex Razor HD 20-60x85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Red-shouldered Hawk in Brevard County, Florida on January 22, 2015. Digiscoped with a Samsung Galaxy S4 + Vortex Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

4. The Exhibit Center – This place is typically packed with visitors. Festival participants can try optics and gear before buying, talk with birding and wildlife tour leaders, and check out local artists’ work. Read more about the Exhibit Center here.

5. Merritt Island NWR – Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is, hands-down, my favorite spot to bird in Brevard County. Black Point Wildlife Drive is an excellent place to photograph wading birds and ducks, Florida Scrub-Jays are “common” year-round, and Painted Buntings frequent the feeders at the Visitor’s Center. If you’re attending the festival, make sure you spend a AT LEAST one morning at Merritt Island!

Roseate Spoonbill at Black Point Wildlife Drive, Brevard County, Florida on January 25, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Roseate Spoonbill at Black Point Wildlife Drive, Brevard County, Florida on January 25, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Registration for this year’s festival is open until 5 PM on January 15. You can register for the festival online. I’ll be at the festival working the Phone Skope booth and should be out in the field birding each morning. Let me know in the comments if you’ll be at the festival!

Florida Birding Trip

For spring break I took a week long birding trip with Ian Gardner, Josh Lefever, and Mark Mizak. We covered a good portion of southern Florida, the Atlantic side of Florida, and some interior sites near the Gulf coast side. I ended up with 21 lifers, which was the most I have had in a while. Reptiles and amphibians were also around in good number and I ended up getting quite a few lifer herps as well.

We observed approximately 150 bird species, although it may end up being a few more once all the sightings are entered in eBird. Sometimes we would be looking at a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, and Swainson’s Hawk, which felt more like Kansas than south Florida. Vermilion Flycatcher, Florida Scrub Jay, Short-tailed Hawk, and Red-cockaded Woodpecker were just a few of the highlight from our trip. Nice weather, good planning, and a little bit of luck really helped to make this trip fantastic. Here are some photo highlights from our trip. More posts (with photos) will be coming shortly.

One of several male Yellow-headed Blackbirds

Florida Gopher Frog

Black-necked Stilt