Explore nature this winter
A walkway at Robinson Preserve winds through the mangroves.
The mercury drops, things get interesting at Manatee County’s preserves. The Manatee County Natural Resources Department has a list of events scheduled at the preserves. Here’s a look at what’s happening near the Island.
• Saturday, Dec. 1, 9 a.m. to noon, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program's Neal Preserve Bay Wise paddle.
During this special trip, you'll have the opportunity to check out the preserve with marine educator Brad from Mote Marine before it opens. Discover the plants, animals and habitats that make Sarasota Bay special. Participants must bring their own kayaks and safety gear. This program is sponsored by Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, and reservations are required. Make reservations online at http://sarasotabay.org/eco-tourism/bay-wise-kayak-tour-program/.
• Friday, Dec. 7, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Families flock together: Holidays are for the birds at Emerson Point Preserve. Create tasty treats for the feathered friends making their way to Florida on their yearly migration. Learn about how birds survive the winter and what you can do to help them. This program is suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. Call 941-742-5757, ext. 4.
• Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Florida Paddling Trails Association environmental tool kit training at Emerson Point Preserve. Learn how to interact with nature in a way that will minimize your footprint while paddling and exploring the great outdoors. This program is sponsored by FPTA in partnership with the Manatee County Natural Resources Department. Fee is $5 for FPTA members, $25 for non-members (includes membership and laminated handouts). Reservations are required. Call 941-748-4501, ext. 4616, for more information.
• Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 to 11 a.m., Master Gardener tour at Riverview Pointe Preserve/DeSoto National Memorial. Join Master Gardener Mike for an exciting journey through mangrove forests, coastal hammock habitat and even a pocket of rare scrub. This program is suitable for all ages. Call the Master Gardener Office for reservations at 941-722-4524.
• Monday, Dec. 10, 10 to 11:30 a.m., volunteer orientation at Emerson Point Preserve. Find out how to volunteer with the Natural Resources Department at any or all of the preserves. Learn about the current volunteer opportunities and what you can do to help Manatee County's preserves. Suitable for all ages; children under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Call 941-748-4501, ext. 4613, to reserve a spot.
• Monday, Dec. 10, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Frog Creek Paddle. Help clean up Frog Creek. There aren't many places with such a diversity of habitats as this secluded and seldom paddled trail. It is a thriving portrait of old Florida, a freshwater stream surrounded by cypress, palmettos and thick grass pouring into Terra Ceia Bay and the Gulf. During your paddle we'll collect trash at both the boat ramp and also along the way. While not for first-time paddlers, beginners who can paddle 5 miles are welcome to attend. Participants must have their own canoe or kayak and safety gear. Children age 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations are required. Call 941-742-5757, ext. 7.
• Tuesday, Dec. 11, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., Audubon Society Bird Tour of Emerson Point Preserve. Lucette from the Manatee Audubon Society is back for a walk hunting for Emerson's feathered fliers on a trip that's great for beginners to advanced birders. Hosted by the Manatee Audubon Society. Suitable for all ages. Call 941-748-4501, ext. 4605, to reserve a spot.