2017-03-15 / Outdoors

Step out on a free nature walk with volunteer Conservancy guides

The Briggs Boardwalk on Rookery Bay is on the way to Marco Island. 
COURTESY PHOTO The Briggs Boardwalk on Rookery Bay is on the way to Marco Island. COURTESY PHOTO The Conservancy of Southwest Florida offers free guided nature walks at three locations that make a perfect outing for long-time residents and first-time visitors alike. Sunscreen, comfortable waterproof shoes, a camera and binoculars are recommended. Here’s the schedule:

¦ Clam Pass – Set out at 9 a.m. every Monday-Saturday to walk the boardwalk, beach and back-bay areas of this beautiful Collier County park and learn about the secret lives of the flora and fauna of this captivating and biologically-rich area. Catch a glimpse of a pileated woodpeckers or perhaps a yellow-crowned night heron, and learn about the seashells and sharks’ teeth that wash ashore.

The walk is approximately two hours. Meet at the tram stop gazebo near the parking lot.

From 9-11 a.m. every Sunday, a volunteer naturalist from the Conservancy walks the beach (look for a bright orange vest) at Clam Pass to answer questions about shorebirds and give visitors a look through a spotting scope.

The entrance to Clam Pass is at the end of Seagate Drive in Naples.

¦ Briggs Boardwalk on the way to Marco Island – Although the boardwalk is open from dawn to dusk all year, volunteer guides man the walk from 9 a.m. to noon seven days a week (except on holidays and in inclement weather) through March. Tours set out at 10 a.m.

The ½-mile boardwalk is a self-directed nature trail passing through five unique habitats from scrub to brackish ponds.

Signs along the walk describe the flora and fauna in each community, and Conservancy volunteers are eager to help visitors spot and identify plants, birds and other animals and provide a spotting scope on an elevated observation platform overlooking brackish ponds. Briggs Boardwalk on Rookery Bay is a Great Florida Birding Trail site.

¦ Tigertail Beach on Marco Island – Another Great Florida Birding Trail site, Tigertail Beach is on the free guided tour schedule through April 21. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the kiosk and plan to spend one to two hours seeing and learning about the shorebirds, wading birds, fiddler crabs, mangroves, live shells and more and make this beautiful beach home.

The tidal lagoon and mudflats offer great views of many of the area’s seasonal and year-round avian residents such as ospreys, pelicans, plovers, sandpipers, egrets, herons and roseate spoonbills, some of which are rare or endangered.

For more information about any of the above, visit www.conservancy.org/offsite/nature-walks. ¦

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