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.
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, Kevin 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.
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!
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!