Every time I visit the area I enjoy it more, from the Oldest City's historic charm to the beautiful beaches and natural areas nearby. This region of northeast Florida is a haven for wildlife -- particularly birds migrating through here along the Great Florida Birding Trail -- and a center for wildlife research.
|Hiking the GTM Reserve in search of birds./Marcia Biggs
The annual Florida Birding and Photo Fest, a 5-day extravaganza of seminars, offers programs and field trips that draw participants from across the state and the country. Festival headquarters is the education center at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) Research Reserve north of St. Augustine about 8 miles. It is one of 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves around the country focused on researching, educating and protecting the natural biodiversity within the estuary. The GTM Reserve encompasses 74,000 acres of natural habitat along the ocean from south of St. Augustine to north in Ponte Vedra.
|Memorial Presbyterian Church
Both tours were led by St. Augustine resident photographer Jackie Kramer, whose pictorial book "Sacred St. Augustine" reveals most of the historic churches and graveyards in exquisite detail. I highly recommend spending time exploring the many churches and cemeteries which are each such an integral part of the history of St. Augustine. This can be a fascinating way to spend a morning or afternoon -- as well as an awesome history lesson!
The next festival is scheduled for April 21-25, 2021. For more information, go to http://www.floridasbirdingandphotofest.com/