Things To Do Birding, from page 41 Bridge these old bridge terminals jut sixtenths of a mile into the Apalachicola Bay. A walk down either of these structures will put you square in the middle of the bay habitat of an extraordinary number of species. Caspian Terns, Sandwich Terns, Forster's Terns, Royal Terns, Least Terns and Gull-billed Terns nest on the old causeway between the two piers. Late spring and early summer they can be seen diving and bringing food to their growing offspring. This is one of the most important nesting areas on the Forgotten Coast. In the waters around the piers you may spot over-wintering waterfowl including Common Loons, Red-breasted Mergansers, Buffleheads and Canvasbacks. 10. St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. Located off the western-most shore of Franklin County, this large barrier island is a wonderful birder's adventure, but probably best explored with a guide. There are five fresh-water lakes, managed for waterfowl, in the interior of the island which are best explored by kayak. A tremendous number of species can be found there including the Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Pidebilled Grebes, Northern Shoveler, Hooded Merganser, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Green Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Sora and Wood Stork. Shore birds include the Black-bellied Plover, Snowy Plover, (which also nest on the west end of the island), Wilson's Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Black-necked Stilt, Lesser Yellowleg, Spotted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher and American Woodcock. The interior mixed forest may shelter Yellow Warblers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Northern Flickers, Eastern Phoebes, White-eyed Vireos, Blue-headed Vireos, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers and American Goldfinch. Wading birds including the Tricolored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, occasionally the related Great White Heron and Reddish Egret can be observed. There are many active Bald Eagle and Osprey nests.
The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve features a world-class nature center.
ucked along the shores of St. George Sound in Eastpoint, you’ll find one of the country’s most prestigious research labs, complete with a world-class visitor center. If you’ve ever wondered how nature works, this place is for you! The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center features group programs, state-ofthe-art exhibits and a great collection of local cultural artifacts. The nature center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. eastern time. Here, you can tour exhibits that take you on a journey from deep in the river swamps along the Apalachicola River, across Apalachicola Bay, over one of the local barrier islands and out to the Gulf of Mexico. The center also contains several large aquaria that feature local fish and turtles from the fresh, brackish and salt water habitats. Be sure to spend extra time in the Bay Discovery Room where you can actually touch the bones, shells, microscopes and a vast collection of interesting items.
About the Reserve At the heart of the nature center, it’s all about the science. Core programs at the Reserve
focus on research, resource management, education and training. The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve was established in 1979 as part of a system of reserves around America to protect estuaries. The Reserve encompasses nearly 247,000 acres of public lands and waters in the Florida Panhandle. The Reserve is part of a watershed that is nearly 20,000 square miles in size, that stretches from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia. Watery habitats within the Reserve include the lower 52 miles of the Apalachicola River and the portion of Apalachicola Bay from Indian Pass eastward through St. George Sound. Extensive bottomland hardwoods, pine flatwoods and coastal barrier islands are just a few of the natural communities that make the Reserve a true gem of natural diversity. This one estuary provides people with shrimp, crabs, fish and approximately 90% of Florida’s oyster harvest. Learn more by visiting dep.state.fl.us/ coastal/sites/Apalachicola. Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve 108 Island Dr, Eastpoint 850-670-7700
2014 Guide to Apalachicola, Alligator Point, Carrabelle, Eastpoint and St. George Island