Registrants participate in any of 70 field trips on the 20,000-acre Lake Apopka North Shore, with access provided by the St. Johns River Water Management District and other Central Florida birding sites. Included are trips for people interested in learning more about birding and experienced birders eager to see some new locations throughout Central Florida guided by experienced trip leaders. One trip is suitable for participants in wheelchairs, and one led is by Spanish-speaking photo leaders.
The starting point for many trips is the McDonald Canal Pavilion, 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757, the boat ramp, and Lake County Park, which is the northern entrance to the Lake Apopka North Shore. Several Sunrise Photo and Birding trips leave from this area in time to drive through the western part of the North Shore to reach the observation tower on Lake Apopka by sunrise. These trips continue through areas normally only open to hikers and bicyclists. Some trips include box lunch served at the McDonald Canal, which allows participants on different trips and leaders to meet and talk about their common interest, birding.
Many of the trips, led by skilled photo leaders, are tailored for photographers, who like to go slower to secure great shots. A two-part (classroom/field) photo workshop is offered.
As well as the great birding locations, it is the trip leaders who make this festival so successful, according to Deborah Green, Orange Audubon Society president and festival committee chair. Sixty trip leaders this year come from as far away as Portland, Oregon, Cape May, New Jersey, Charleston, South Carolina, and Miami, joined by some of our best local birders. The birding reputation of the Lake Apopka North Shore has grown, and our festival pulls in participants from around the country, with over 300 participants this year. Once seeing this amazing place, they will return and spend money locally, so birding and photography on the Lake Apopka North Shore is an ecotourism success story.
Friday and Saturday night keynote talks are at the Wekiwa Springs State Park Youth Camp in Apopka, with catered dinners followed by owl walks. Orange Audubon Society’s 7-year-old festival is run entirely by volunteers, and proceeds contribute to the chapter’s fund-raising toward a nature and environmental education center on the Lake Apopka North Shore and related educational programs.
Details are on the website northshorebirdingfesti
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