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Pelican Island Audubon Society

FIELD TRIP: Orlando Wetlands Park

Bill and Becky Loftus will lead a field trip on Sunday, 29 January 2023, to Orlando Wetlands Park, 25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas, FL, which is a 1,220-acre constructed-wetland system situated 27 miles east of Orlando in the town of Christmas in which former cattle pasture was converted into wetlands for the reuse of the highly treated effluent from a regional treatment facility. The plant communities include deep-marsh areas, mixed-marsh and wet prairies, and hardwood/cypress swamps. The Park has more than 20 miles of roads and woodland trails leading through marshes, hardwood hammocks and along ponds. Roads along the pond levees are closed to vehicles but provide access for bird-watching, photography, walking and bicycling. The paths are handicapped-accessible.

There is a nature center with drinks, snacks, and exhibits with restrooms and picnic tables. 

Some 220 bird species and 63 butterfly species have been recorded in the park along with other wildlife attracted to these extensive wetlands. The open waters of the ponds and marshes attract thousands of waterbirds, including Blue-winged Teal, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Limpkins, Anhingas, Common and Purple Gallinules, American Coots and others. Wading birds such as Wood Storks, White and Glossy Ibis, Black-crowned Night Herons, and other typical wading birds are common during the winter and spring. Great Blue Herons are often seen wresting large, black salamanders from the aquatic vegetation in the ponds. Bald eagles, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawks, Black and Turkey Vultures are year-round resident raptors in the Park. Warblers and other small passerines occur in the forested areas of the Park. Mammals along the trails include raccoons, river otters, white-tailed deer and bobcats. 

Walking distance: 3 miles, although participants may choose to walk less. Sometimes a tram will come by to pick up weary visitors.

Degree of difficulty: Easy walking along smooth levees among the ponds. Weather may be warm or cold so dress accordingly. Bring water and sunscreen. You may wish to bring lunch as there are no nearby restaurants. Picnic tables are available at the Wetlands or at Fort Christmas.

Where to meet: Chevron gas station/McDonalds on County Road 512, just east of I-95 at 6:00AM. If you wish to drive directly to Orlando Wetlands Park, please let the PIAS office know so we do not wait for you at Sebastian. We should arrive at the Orlando Wetlands Park about 7:30.

Click to visit the Orlando Wetlands Parks website.

Date: 01/29/2023 (Sun.)

Time: 6:00am - 3:00am EST

Location: Orlando Wetlands Park
25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas, FL 32709

Created by:   Bob Montanaro
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