Greetings to everyone and a sincere wish for each of you to have a very happy new year!

I'm planning to take a 1 week vacation to Florida at the end of this month for my 50th birthday and I would very much appreciate some assistance on the birding parts of the vacation.

I've seen many such requests here on the mailing list but seldom see any responses. I have to assume that they are usually sent outside of the mailing list. Anyway ... on to the request:

I'll be starting the birding part of the vacation around Sarasota on Jan. 24th after a couple of days at the attractions in the Orlando area. I am planning on a stop at Oscar Scherer State Park for Scrub Jays - Does that seem to be the best site? Any hints for specific locations within the park?

Also, nearby, there are supposed to be Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in some lakes near I-75 exit #39. Is there anything else in the general area of I-75 between Tampa and Ft. Myers worth trying to see?

From there it's on to a couple of days at Sanibel and Ding Darling NWR for whatever turns up. Also a visit to Cape Coral (where I used to live some 40 years ago!) for Burrowing Owls. Any help with specific locations for the owls would be appreciated.

The evening of Wednesday the 26th it is back on the road again, down to Naples and then across the state to Miami/Coral Gables. A visit to Gifford Arboretum and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables and, if time allows, a visit to Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach before a mad dash back north on the 29th.

The last couple of days in Florida don't have birding as the primary objective, but there should be plenty of time and opportunities for it!

Anyway ... some of the birds I would appreciate any hints on finding:

Wood Stork
Glossy Ibis
Mottled Duck
Snail Kite
White-crowned Pigeon
White-winged Dove
Monk Parakeet
Red-whiskered Bulbul


Jim Seaman
Raleigh, NC