Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast provides important habitat for many species of migratory birds and wildlife. In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, the St. Joe Company would like invite you to attend their Northwest Florida Birding and Wildlife Festival highlighting some of the most beautiful and unique birds and wildlife of the region. The festival includes a guest speaker, a wildlife photographer, education and recreation activities for all ages along with guided birding tours.
The nature and wildlife exhibits and activities are free and open to the public from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. with food available for purchase.
Special excursion tickets are available for $40 (free for children under 17) and include: choice of one morning and one afternoon excursion from the following:
Wetappo Creek Conservation Area
Tour Time: 6-10 a.m .
This private access 1,600 acre-area contains the largest stand of old-growth long leaf pine timber in Gulf County. Participants can expect to see five species of wood peckers, including the red-cockaded woodpecker for which the area is intensively managed. Other numerous bird species common to long leaf-pine ecosystems may be seen. Following the birding tour, participants will enjoy flora in bloom and other fauna in area wetlands and uplands. The tour host will also describe management activities for red-cockaded woodpeckers and other protected species on-site.
Camp Helen State Park
Tour Time: 7-10 a.m .
The tour of this beautiful state park will include exploration and birding along pristine Emerald Coast gulf front beaches, Lake Powell coastal dune lake shoreline, maritime oak hammocks and freshwater wetlands. Participants are likely to see a wide variety of shore, wading, raptor and neo-tropical migrant birds.
RiverCamps Photo Excursion
Times: 7-10 a.m. and 3-5:30 p.m.
This private access area tour targets novice birders and those interested in gaining experience in wildlife photography. RiverCamps has over 1,000 acres of natural areas that include fresh, brackish and salt marshes, flatwood prairies and savannahs, tidal flats and creeks and maritime hammocks. Experienced wildlife photographer Paul Winterman will guide birders and provide tips and techniques on wildlife photography.
RiverCamps Kayak Tour
Tour Times: 7-10 a.m. and 3-5:30 p.m.
This kayak tour couples excellent birding with exercise and the beauty of Crooked Creek and the West Bay tidal flats. The tour begins at the beautiful private RiverHouse on Crooked Creek and traverses the tidal creeks and flats of the bay.
West Bay Pontoon Boat Tour
Time: 7-10 a.m. and 3-5:30 p.m.
Enjoy the shallow brackish and salt water marshes associated with the West Bay Preservation Area. The comfortable boat tour will explore the beautiful shoreline and creeks of West Bay. These waterways are home to alligators and numerous species of resident and migratory birds. Species you might expect to see are clapper rails, bald eagles, ospreys, common loons, horned grebes, and other waterfowl, moorhens, several species of herons, egrets, gulls and terns, and numerous species of migrant shorebirds.
Dinner At The RiverHouse With Guest Speaker Lynda White
Dinner Time: 6-8:00 p.m.
Treat yourself to dinner at The RiverHouse with renowned guest speaker Lynda White, Eagle Watch Coordinator from the Audubon Center of Birds of Prey. Attendees can also view nature photographer Paul Winterman’s wildlife and outdoor photography exhibit. Bat Mist-Netting Tour Time: 8-9:30 pm Join Dr. Jeff Gore, one of the leading bat experts in the Southeast, as he catches bats in mist-nets as they feed along the waterways of Crooked Creek. Learn about the life history, migration and importance of Florida’s only flying mammals. This tour includes listening to eco-locations from electronic bat detectors and/or observation of the capture and release of live bats including Red, Seminole, Evening, Big Brown, Eastern Pipistrelle, Southeastern Miotis, Yellow, and Free-Tailed Bats. This tour is on a private access area and is included in the registration ticket.
The festival will be held at River Camps on Crooked Creek Riverhouse, 6305 Riverhouse Drive, Panama City Beach. RiverCamps is located just north of West Bay off of State Hwy. 388.