Audubon Assembly

Audubon Assembly 2022 Field Trips

Lee County and the surrounding area have much to offer. On Thursday afternoon, you may want to stop by Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary for a guided stroll on the famous boardwalk or do some exploring at one of the additional suggested sites on your own. Check-in at the Luminary Hotel is 4 p.m. When you arrive, you can just settle in to visit with old and new friends or take a self-guided tour of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates located nearby. Make sure to get a good night's sleep for an early departure for the Friday field trip of your choice.

Many thanks to host chapter Audubon of Southwest Florida (ASWF) for graciously planning the various itineraries as well as Florida Power & Light and the Lee County Chamber of Commerce for chipping in to defray the costs of the Friday boat trip and Babcock Ranch Ecotour. Please note the different start times and ADA access.

Participants will meet in the conference center lobby 15 minutes before departure. Audubon staff will meet you there to provide instructions and directions. You will carpool to all sites except the Babcock Ranch trip for which Florida Power & Light is providing transportation. Upon registration, you will be asked to select your preferred outing(s).  Any charges for entrance or parking will be noted in the trip description. Make sure to register early as there is limited capacity for several of these exciting options unless you are a Conservation Leadership Initiative mentor, in which case, your field trip will be scheduled separately. Please do NOT select a Friday field trip if you are a CLI mentor.

Click here for Assembly Registration.

Overview of Field Trip Opportunities

Pre-Assembly Thursday, Oct. 13

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary | Audubon staff members at the Sanctuary are offering guided tours at three departure times: 8:00, 10:00, and noon. No charge to Assembly registrants.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates |Located less than two miles from the hotel and easy to enjoy on your own. Cost: $25

Friday, Oct. 14

TRIP 1 | 8 – 11:30 a.m. Babcock Ranch Ecotour and FPL’s Solar Stewardship Program. 

Join Florida Power & Light Company to visit its Babcock Ranch and Babcock Preserve solar energy centers. You will also hear about FPL’s Solar Stewardship Program – an Eco-innovation Partnership with Audubon Florida. FPL’s two 74.5-megawatt solar energy centers provide renewable energy for Babcock Ranch, America’s first solar community, and beyond. We will then travel to the Babcock Ranch Ecotours home base where we will climb aboard for the Swamp Buggy Eco-Tour! This 90-minute tour will give you an overview of the natural resources of the historic Babcock Ranch. You will travel through the Crescent B Ranch, a working cattle ranch with over 14,000 acres in pastureland, and learn its history.  You’ll also wander through Florida ecosystems, all the while getting up close and personal with the local wildlife – like Wild Turkeys, Caracara, Sandhill Cranes, Osprey, and much more. 

  • Leaders: Jeff Smith - Florida Power & Light Company, Babcock Ecotours Guide, Carol Newcomb Audubon of Southwest Florida
  • Capacity: 40
  • Accessibility: Participants will need to be capable of accessing a modified school bus. 

TRIP 2 | 8 – 11:30 a.m. Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve East 

It is a short, 20-minute carpool to this lovely Conservation 2020 property.  The boardwalks and an extensive trail system meander through wetlands, hammocks, and pine flatwood ecosystems. We will look for woodpeckers, gnatcatchers, wrens, catbirds, swifts, and a variety of waterbirds and may catch a few migrating songbirds. We will hike Sweetbay & Fetterbush Trails (approx 1¼ mile) followed by the 1/3 mile Live Oak Loop Trail.

  • Leader: Vince McGrath, Past President ASWF
  • Capacity: 15
  • Accessibility:  good with a paved trail and a longer boardwalk / sandy trail            '

TRIP 3 | 8:15 – 11:30 a.m. Eco River Charter Tour

At 8:15 you will meet in the lobby for a 20-minute carpool to the Marina. You will cruise the Caloosahatchee River onboard the “River Queen II.” View Southwest Florida’s flora and fauna while learning about its cultural heritage on this 2-hour Florida Master Naturalist-narrated tour in and around the oxbows highlighting the uniqueness of our environment.

  • Leader:  River Queen guide and Audubon Florida staff
  • Capacity: 24
  • Accessibility:  good (40-foot ADA pontoon boat)    

Trip 4 | 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. Bunche Beach Preserve (low tide: 10:30)

This natural tidal wetlands area is located on San Carlos Bay, a 30-minute carpool from the hotel.  The preserve is a natural area indicative of the entire area before the introduction of exotic plant species. The "Old Florida” ecosystem ranges from a sandy beach to mangrove forests to salt flats and offers a wide variety of wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities. Shorebird sightings may include willets, godwits, oystercatchers, turnstones, sandpipers, gulls, and plovers.

  • Leaders:  Robin Serne, FWC Biologist and ASWF Board Member, and Lina Ramirez Granada, Lee County Shorebird Steward and ASWF Board Member.
  • Capacity: 15
  • Accessibility:  1½  mile walking - poor with sandy beach mudflats and tide pools
  • Cost:  $5 for parking

Trip 5 | 8:45 – 11:30 Billy Creek Preserve

Billy Creek Preserve plays an important role in improving water quality in Lee County. The artificially-created filter marshes at this preserve act as a natural “cleaning” system for Billy’s Creek before it feeds downstream into the Caloosahatchee River. Plants filter out the excess nutrients in the water and help to improve water quality, we'll see an active filter marsh in operation, and hope for wood stork, osprey, woodpecker, heron, ibis, and limpkin sightings. We will spend 2 hours to cover 1.5 paved multi-use trails with great views.

  • Leader:  Dan VanNorman ASWF Vice-president
  • Capacity:  15
  • Accessibility:  Excellent with paved trails throughout         

Trip 6 | 9 -11 a.m. Walking History Tour of Downtown Fort Myers

Experience birding and local history (this was the center of the Plume Trade) on this downtown outing. Led by local-history aficionado and ASWF President Gerri Reaves, we’ll learn about the history of the town and look for birds over and around the downtown district and the Caloosahatchee River.

  • Leader: Gerri Reaves – President ASWF/Local History aficionado
  • Capacity: 15
  • Accessibility:  Excellent with paved sidewalks throughout 

On Your Own - Anytime Trips!

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge 

Six Mile Cypress Slough

Charlotte Flatwoods Environmental Park  

Hickey Creek Mitigation Park  

Alligator Creek Preserve - Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center 

Harns Marsh

Pop Ash Creek Preserve

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary  

CREW Bird Rookery Swamp

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