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Popular Saturday hikes continue at Pinellas County preserves | Environment

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Popular Saturday hikes continue at Pinellas County preserves
Environment, Events
Popular Saturday hikes continue at Pinellas County preserves

Pinellas County, Florida -- The popular Saturday hikes continue at Brooker Creek Preserve in 2013.

On Feb. 2 and 16, volunteer guides lead groups to see how the land has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes. Closed-toe shoes, water and hat are recommended on these 90-minute, 0.75-mile walks at 9 a.m.

Also on Saturday, Feb. 2, Birding 101 is presented by Clearwater Audubon’s Lynn Sumerson. The basics of how to identify the many birds surrounding us every day will be explored in this 90-minute workshop beginning at 10:30 a.m. Participants will learn what to look and listen for and gain insight into some basic equipment needed to take your birding skills to the next level.

Both Wednesday, Feb. 6, and Saturday, Feb. 23, from 8:30 to 10 a.m., you can learn how to find that perfect photo. A brief classroom session conducted by local photographers and master naturalists Karl and Kathleen Nichter will highlight the seasonal features that help participants capture the natural beauty of the preserve. Then hike the boardwalk and trails to look for shots that reflect the season. Recommended for adults and children over 12 years old. As a winter special, Brooker Creek Environmental Education Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Wednesday in February, March and April 2013, in addition to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

A special 90-minute hike aimed at identifying birds common to Brooker Creek Preserve will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9, starting at 8 a.m. This leisurely stroll along a one-mile trail gathering information on the birds heard and seen is a must for all bird lovers. It will be helpful to have binoculars and water on this hike.

Wednesday, Feb. 13, join a Brooker Creek Naturalist exploring the fascinating plants found on the preserve while identifying wildflowers, ferns, epiphytes, trees and more. This botany hike examines the ecology of various plant communities. Beginning at 10 a.m., this 90-minute hike is best suited for adult participants. Come prepared with your camera and questions. As a winter special, Brooker Creek Environmental Education Center will be open from 9a.m. to 4p.m. on Wednesdays in February, March and April 2013, in addition to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, a local natural resources agent will guide you on a 90-minute forestry hike along two miles of boardwalks and natural trails at Brooker Creek Preserve. It will be helpful to bring binoculars and cameras on this hike which begins at 10 a.m. Questions can also be researched in the resource room upon return to the education center. As a winter special, Brooker Creek Environmental Education Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Wednesday in February, March and April 2013, in addition to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

On Saturday, Feb. 23, trained volunteer guides will conduct a special, extended 2.8- to 4-mile walk from 9 to 11:30 a.m. to look at changes made by time. Water, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen along with sturdy closed-toe shoes are recommended. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult; those younger than 10 may find this hike challenging.

The ever-popular Book-Time at Brooker for tots ages 3 to 5 continues in February. For 45-minutes each Thursday, beginning at 10:30 a.m., children have the opportunity to connect to the wonders of the natural world through stories and crafts, games or other hands-on activities. Titles of books featured on Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28 may be found on the website.

Attention adult readers. The Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve hosts a one-hour Brooker Book Club meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. The selected books include works by Florida authors, past and present, with archaeology, biography, politics and history storylines. The book selected to be discussed on Saturday, Feb. 2, is Digging Miami by Robert S. Carr. As seating is limited, advance registration is suggested.

Both on Saturday, Feb. 9, and Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., an Extension specialist will lead you and your family in a fun after-school adventure designed by 4-H toward understanding the wonders of the natural world. There will be an opportunity to sign-up and become a Brooker Creek Explorer and continue the fun adventures throughout the year. Please register each member of the family, as space and supplies are limited. As a winter special, Brooker Creek Environmental Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Wednesday in February, March and April 2013, in addition to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Feb. 9, everyone will have the opportunity to learn about Florida scrub jays in this 10:30 a.m. to noon presentation. Become aware of this threatened species and where the scrub jay exists in Florida.

On Saturday, Feb. 23, the Family Herpetology Series II: Frogs will be featured in a 90-minute presentation recommended for all ages. Join Avalon, an 11-year-old herpetologist who founded Conserve It Forward, as she discusses frogs, their challenges and what you can do to help. Get up close and personal with live amphibians. Beginning at 10:30 a.m., this presentation is appropriate for the whole family.

The ongoing exhibit, Windows to Our Wildest Place, continues every Thursday through Saturday during regular center hours at Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center. These hands-on, educational exhibits help visitors understand how natural Florida has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes. As a winter special, Brooker Creek Environmental Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Wednesday in February, March and April 2013, in addition to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Brooker Creek Preserve protects more than 8,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The preserve, the horse trails and the Friends Trail are open daily and holidays.

The Environmental Education Center in the preserve features interactive exhibits and 22 discovery-oriented experiences that are fun for the entire family. The Center is operated by the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department and is open Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed on all Pinellas County holidays.

Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are a person with a disability needing any accommodation in order to participate in a class, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. At least seven days prior to the program, please contact the Office of Human Rights, 400 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Suite 500, Clearwater, FL 33756, (727) 464-4062 (Voice/TDD).

To learn more about Brooker Creek Preserve and its upcoming programs and events, call (727) 453-6800. To register for programs and events visit www.brookercreekpreserve.org. Videos featuring Brooker Creek Preserve can be viewed at www.youtube.com/pcctv1.

Weedon Island Preserve

Hiking opportunities are plentiful at Weedon Island Preserve in February. Regular two-hour guided hikes begin at 9 a.m. each Saturday in February. Participants learn about the ecosystems and early residents of Weedon Island Preserve while hiking the coastal uplands and along boardwalks through mangrove forests. The hikes are best for ages 6 and older.

Become part of the Great Weedon Bird Quest on Friday, Feb. 8, from 8 to 10 a.m. Learn the identifying marks and behaviors of our feathered year-round residents and seasonal visitors while assisting in compiling an annual checklist of the preserve’s birds. This hike is designed to take advantage of all levels of birding experience.

Children ages 3 to 5 continue to be treated to 45 minutes of a selected story, crafts, games and hands-on activities that connect them to their environment through Wee Time at Weedon. From 10:30 to 11:15 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, the popular classic story of The Very Hungary Caterpillar by Eric Carle will tell the journey of a caterpillar as it transforms into a butterfly. The Thursday, Feb. 28, book will be The Snail’s Spell by Joanne Ryder, which uses imagination to understand the life of a small snail in a garden.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, Dr. Gabriel Vargo, professor emeritus and avian education volunteer at Boyd Hill Nature Park, will look at the life history of majestic birds of prey. The presentation from 10 to 11 a.m., will include a live cast of local owls and a hawk. Dr. Vargo discusses the characteristics that make raptors successful predators: their ecology and natural history, their importance and role in the ecosystem and the problems they encounter in our human-modified environments.

Did you know there are about 350 different types of sharks? Beginning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6, you can learn all about one of the ocean’s most revered creatures. This two-hour Going Coastal presentation, recommended for all ages, introduces all types of sharks, where they live, what they eat and much more. As a winter special, Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Wednesday in February, March and April 2013, in addition to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Saving money is the topic of a Saturday, Feb. 9 workshop. Learn how much energy is wasted in the home every day, around the clock in the Pinellas Energy Efficiency Project’s advanced energy-saving class. Participants will receive free equipment and materials to help cut energy costs. This one-hour program beginning at 10 a.m. is suitable for the whole family, but please register for one ticket per household.

Join a national volunteer effort to record data collected on valuable plants and wildlife which will be used in scientific studies.  You don’t have to be an expert to become a part of this Citizen Scientist Workshop to be held on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The 2 to 4 p.m. This training reveals how to collect local ecological information and provides an introduction to Nature’s Notebook.

The workshop is free but registration is required as class size is limited.  Participants must have access to a computer. Registration required as class size is limited. As a winter special, Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Wednesday in February, March and April 2013, in addition to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

All ages are welcome to the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. recognition of the 10th anniversary of Weedon Island Cultural and Natural History Center on Saturday, Feb.16. Sponsored by Friends of Weedon Island, this day is filled with commemorative speakers, special guided hikes, arts and crafts, video presentations and an indoor scavenger hunt. Light refreshments and cake will be served at noon. Guided hikes beginning at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. will include a Native American hike, a coastal ecology hike and a family hike. Arts and crafts, including fish printing and Play-Doh pottery will be offered in the classroom. Bring a plain T-shirt or reusable bag to make your own commemorative fish print.

A Pinellas County family and consumer sciences agent, along with a Pinellas County sea grant agent, present a market-to-menu program that incorporates seafood into a heart-healthy diet. This Wednesday, Feb. 20, presentation will provide valuable resources and cover information that will take the mystery out of the world of seafood. From choosing fish at the market, to selecting a recipe at home, you will be walked through the process of preparing seafood. This hands-on cooking demonstration, best for adults, begins at 2 p.m. As a winter special, Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Wednesday in February, March and April 2013, in addition to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

On Thursday, Feb. 21, as part of the ongoing archaeology lecture series, Mike Terrell, underwater archaeologist from The Florida Aquarium, will present his research on the Scottish chief and the Battle of Ballast Point. Advance registration required for this free, 7 to 8 p.m. presentation.

Did you know Pinellas Point once hosted a wading bird colony as far as the eye could see or that Robert Hoyt, a prominent Pinellas bird collector in his day, planted the original kapok tree? On Saturday, Feb. 23, Ron Smith, a long-time Pinellas birder, author and field trip leader, will talk about the history of birdlife dating from the late 1800s in this free, 2 to 3 p.m., Birds of Pinellas presentation.

Pinellas County Extension educators will be on hand to teach the design and maintenance of a Florida-friendly yard on Wednesday, Feb. 27. This 2 to 3 p.m. overview will feature the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™.  Attendees will receive a copy of The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design, a 110-page booklet with photos and descriptions of hundreds of plants suitable for a Florida-friendly Yard.

Connecting People and Place is an art-inspired, permanent hands-on educational exhibit of the area’s history, ecology and people at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center. The center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. It is closed all Pinellas County holidays.

To learn more about Weedon Island Preserve and its upcoming programs and events, call (727) 453-6500. To register for programs and events visit www.weedonislandpreserve.org. Videos featuring Weedon Island Preserve can be viewed at www.youtube.com/pcctv1.

Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in a class or event, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. At least seven days prior to the program, please contact the Office of Human Rights, 400 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Suite 500, Clearwater, FL 33756, (727) 464-4062 (Voice/TDD).

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