Big Year Tours Spotlight: Florida – Reddish Egret

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Jan 4, 2019 | by Greg Miller
Reddish Egret with cool reflection at J. N. Ding Darling NWR, FL

Reddish Egret with cool reflection at J. N. Ding Darling NWR, FL – photo by Greg Miller


Back in 2015 I was sitting with Kevin Loughlin, owner of Wildside Nature Tours, in his house near Philadelphia. We were brainstorming about an idea I had to do a few “Big Year” style tours. Together we came up with 11 one-week tours. These 11 tours were crafted around Wildside’s busy birding festival schedule and filling in gaps where the existing Wildside schedule could afford to be stretched. I had my homemade database with eBird data so we could find the most efficient places to go birding in the time slots we had available. And this is how Wildside’s Big Year Birding Tours schedule was born.

Since January of 2016, Wildside Nature Tours has been running Big Year Tours. These tours are designed to get the highest number of *unique* species for each one-week trip so that if a birder took all 11 trips they should end up with over 500 species of birds in the United States. That’s half of all the species in North America in just 11 weeks. These tours will give a birder a little taste of what it’s like to do a Big Year but in an easier-to-handle one-week-at-a-time commitment.

The name of this particular trip is FLORIDA: Central Specialties Birding. But “Central” Florida includes Ocala National Forest in the Northern part of the State, out to Merritt Island NWR on the East Coast and south to Ft. Lauderdale, and west to Ft. Myers and up the West Coast up through Tampa, and back to Orlando. So this really covers a large portion of the State of Florida.

Florida is a wonderful place to start your year. Not only will you get many Florida specialty species, but also a large number of wintering species that spend their summers further north. You can find a list of species we saw on our inaugural tour in 2016 here: 2016 Central Florida species list.

There are still spots open on this upcoming tour. Information can be found here: FLORIDA: Central Specialties Birding.

And while you’re there, take a look at all the other cool Wildside Nature Tours Big Year Birding Tours.

I sincerely hope you have a chance to join us on these adventures for a taste of Big Year Birding!

-Greg Miller

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