Central Florida Coastal Wildlife and Landscapes Regional Event (March 16-19, 2023)
March 16, 2023 - March 19, 2023
Join Karen Schuenemann to photograph wildlife and coastal landscapes in Central Florida. Florida is home to hundreds of local and migrating birds, as well as to thousands of alligators. This event is timed for migrating, nesting and courtship season. We will photograph birds and alligators in their natural environment and capture colorful sunrises and sunsets.
During this event we will visit Circle B Bar Reserve situated in Lakeland, Florida. The 1,267 acre reserve was formerly a cattle ranch that today boasts a wide variety of animals, birds and striking landscapes. There are several distinct ecosystems with numerous walking trails in oak canopies and hammocks, swamps, lake and marshes. This interesting variety of ecosystems has created a special habitat for wildlife. The groomed trails allow us to explore this amazing park and you never know what you might discover.
We will also visit Fort DeSoto, the largest park within the Pinellas County Park system, made up of five interconnected islands. More than 328 species of birds have been documented by ornithologists in the past 60 years! The beautiful white sandy beaches make for some spectacular landscape photography. During spring migration, from March until mid-May, thousands of birds migrate north across the Gulf of Mexico enroute to their breeding ground in the US and Canada. Fort De Soto Park is an important stopover during this migration.
In addition, we will visit an unexpected rookery in the Tampa area. Hundreds of birds nest in this neighborhood, and the photographic opportunities are numerous!
$570 NANPA Members/$770 Non-members
Last Date to Register: February 10, 2023
Maximum number of attendees: 10
Karen Schuenemann is a wildlife and bird photographer. She was awarded a Highly Commended Award-Bird Behaviour in the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year sponsored by the London Natural History Museum. In 2017 she was the Professional Category Honorable Mention in the National Audubon Contest, one of the top five awards. Her work has hung in the London Natural History Museum, and has been included in shows at the San Diego Natural History Museum, The G2 Gallery, Palos Verdes Art Center, Armenia Conservation Show, as well as the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland. She has been published in Nature’s Best, Audubon Magazine, USA Today, NANPA, Shadow and Light Magazine, and American Photo Magazine. In addition, she has garnered numerous awards from Best in Show in Los Angeles County Fair to Honorable Mention in the National Park Contest. She enjoys speaking about wildlife and bird photography and using photography to tell stories and make a positive impact in protecting and conserving our natural world. She currently leads workshops to a variety of locations with her company, Wilderness At Heart Photography and teaches classes in both California and Florida.
The base for this event will be at:
Hampton Inn & Suites Lakeland-South Polk Parkway
3630 Lakeside Village Blvd, Lakeland, Florida, 33803
Check in time: 3 pm
Check out time: 11 am
NANPA is holding a block of rooms for the event participants (block reservation cut off date is February 13, 2023). Room rates are $219 + taxes/fees per night, (note this is considered peak season). This rate is valid for 3 nights: check in March 13, check out March 16, extending your stay will be at the prevailing rate for the additional days.
For hotel reservations, call the hotel directly at 863-603-7600 and ask for a room in the NANPA Photography block . To secure a room at the NANPA rate, reservations must be made before the February 13th at 5 pm eastern time cutoff. Individual reservations may be cancelled up to 72 hours prior to arrival date. Reservations cancelled within 72 hours of arrival date will be subject to one night room and tax charge.
Airports and Ground Transportation
- Tampa Airport (TPA) (~40 min drive away)
- Orlando Airport (MCO) (~45 min drive away)
Transportation to and from the hotel and during the event is not included and is the attendees’ responsibility. Car rental is available at both airports.
Transportation to and from the hotel and during the event is not included and is the attendees’ responsibility.
RIDE SHARING: We will be starting each day from our Lakeland, Florida-based hotel. Ridesharing is encouraged to reduce the size of our vehicle presence and improve the traveling/following experience. You are welcome to either drive or ride with someone. This is also a great way to meet people and make new friends during the event!
Note that NANPA does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel.
All meals except dinner on the first night are on your own. The group dinner on the first night will be at Palace Pizza in Lakeland, walking distance from the “meet and greet”.
This event is designed for amateur and professional photographers interested in improving their photography skills or looking for location guidance to capture the best wildlife & landscape shots.
Some of the locations that we will most likely photograph include:
- Circle B Bar Reserve
Situated in Lakeland, Florida, the 1,267 acre reserve was formerly a cattle ranch that today boasts a wide variety of animals, birds, and striking landscapes. There are several distinct ecosystems with numerous walking trails in oak canopies and hammocks, swamps, lakes, and marshes. This interesting variety of ecosystems has created a special habitat for wildlife. One can see roseate spoonbills, bald eagles, glossy and white ibises, egrets, great blue herons, red bellied woodpeckers, black neck stilts, black vultures, sandhill cranes, ospreys, ducks, grackles, great horned owls, barred owls, red shouldered hawks, tricolored herons, anhingas, moorhens, cormorants, wild pigs, turtles, bobcats, armadillos and alligators. The groomed trails allow us to explore this amazing park and you never know what you might discover.
- Fort DeSoto
The largest park within the Pinellas County Park system, made up of five interconnected islands. More than 328 species of birds have been documented by ornithologists in the past 60 years! The beautiful white sandy beaches make for some spectacular landscape photography. We will also enjoy a variety of wading birds. During spring migration, from March until mid-May, thousands of birds migrate north across the Gulf of Mexico en route to their breeding ground in the US and Canada. Fort De Soto Park is an important stopover during this migration. From tricolored herons to snowy egrets to little blue herons to white ibis to osprey, we will enjoy photographing the variety that this park offers.
- An unexpected rookery in the Tampa area. Hundreds of birds, including, wood storks, egrets, herons, and anhingas all nest in this neighborhood, and the photographic opportunities are numerous!
Your leader will have visited the areas prior to the event and the field trip locations will be based on what’s most photogenic at the time, weather conditions, etc. These will be announced on Thursday afternoon during the Registration/Orientation.
Note: In late September 2022 Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Meyers, Florida. That storm had a major impact in Fort Meyers, but not as much in Lakeland, which is a 2.5 hour drive away to the north. Fortunately, the locations planned on this regional event are expected to be cleaned up from debris by the end of 2022, several months before our event, and we anticipate that it will not affect your photo opportunities for this regional event.
Health and fitness
Expect to walk 1-2 miles on uneven terrain or sand.
We will be based in the Lakeland, FL area during this regional event.
Please keep in mind that this NANPA Regional Event is designed to be a photo tour, not a photo workshop. In other words, there are no formal instruction sessions planned, there are no assignments, you will not be receiving any handouts or the like. That being said, your leader Karen Schuenemann has experience as a photography workshop leader and is available to answer questions and give you guidance. If you need help, please advocate for yourself and speak up and ask for help – Karen is happy to help. Be aware that many of your fellow participants may also be accomplished photographers in their own right and may be able to help you too. Part of the regional event experience is the camaraderie that comes from sharing experiences and lessons learned among participants.
This tour is open for 10 participants to give each plenty of time with the leader and to retain flexibility based on weather and the best opportunities.
This event is designed for all levels of photographers – amateur, intermediate, advanced and professional – interested in improving their photography skills or looking for location guidance to capture images of wildlife and landscapes. If you are new to photography, be sure to ask Karen for help. She will be available to answer questions, explain techniques and in general help you improve your photographic skills. If you already have plenty of photography experience, Karen will ensure that you’re in the best locations at the best times for those perfect shots.
Please know your camera before you arrive and bring your manual, just in case we need to look up something.
What to Bring
- Two camera bodies and two lenses, “long” lens for bird/ wildlife photography, and “short” lens for landscapes. Since you will be walking a bit, Karen recommends either hand holding or using monopods with your long lenses.
Please note schedules are fluid due to weather conditions, and other variables.
Thursday, March 16, 2023
- 4:30 p.m. – Meet and Greet in historic, downtown Lakeland, for a PowerPoint presentation of Bird Photography in Florida, a review of gear, techniques and settings.
- Walk to a casual group dinner (included).
Friday, March 17, 2023
Sunrise ~ 7:38 am, sunset ~7:37 pm
- Meet at Circle B Bar Reserve to photograph at 7:15 am. We will hike around the Reserve at a slow pace looking for residents of this Reserve.
- Lunch – break for mid-day
- 2:00 pm meet in downtown Lakeland to review photos from the morning, discuss camera settings and editing techniques.
- 4:30 pm meet back at Circle B Reserve for an afternoon shoot.
Saturday, March 18, 2023
- Morning shooting session- meet at Fort DeSoto to photograph wading birds and landscape photography
- Lunch followed by a photo review from this morning, discuss camera settings, improvements, and editing techniques.
- We will visit a local rookery in Tampa in the afternoon, before heading back to Lakeland. This rookery is situated in a neighborhood where hundreds of birds, including Egrets, Herons, Wood Storks and Anhingas nest in the trees. It is an unbelievable spectacle to see and photograph.
Sunday, March 19, 2023
- Morning shooting session – Meet back at sunrise, 7:15am at Circle B Bar Reserve to explore another area of this Reserve and explore the photographic opportunities of both wildlife and landscapes.
- Event ends at 11:00am.
Regional Event Cancellation and No Refund Policy:
NANPA will not offer any refunds for registrations for this event regardless of when the cancellation is made or the reason for the cancellation. NANPA reserves the right to cancel any event or activity due to insufficient registration or any unforeseen circumstances. NANPA will offer refunds if NANPA has to cancel the event. It also has the right to substitute presenters if those originally scheduled cannot attend. Registrants may purchase event insurance as part of the registration process through NANPA’s partner, Allianz. More information on this option will be shown during the checkout process for the event registration.
NOTE: If you do not purchase event insurance at the time that you pay for your registration, you will NOT be able to go back and purchase it with Allianz later.
If you choose to purchase travel insurance separately, you can do so with your own insurance carrier, or NANPA members can receive a special travel insurance rate through USI Affinity/Travel Insurance Services.
NANPA is committed to the health and safety of all participants and leaders at any of our events. We have taken steps to reduce the inherent risks surrounding any public location where people are present. We ask that you familiarize yourself with our COVID-19 health and safety precautions and requirements prior to your trip. Masks are discretionary unless required by a particular venue or location.
You should evaluate your own risks when determining whether to participate. By attending this event and signing the NANPA Regional Events Liability Release you acknowledge and agree that you assume these inherent risks associated with your attendance as we have explained them to you.
If you have been feeling sick or have been exposed to someone in your household who is feeling sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, PLEASE STAY HOME.
NANPA follows CDC rules and the rules of the state in which an event is held. Those rules currently are:
- Florida COVID-19 Updates https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/
- Centers for Disease Control COVID guidelines links:
- For up-to-date information on when to be tested please use the CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker tool. The Coronavirus Self-Checker interactive clinical assessment tool that will assist individuals on deciding when to seek testing or medical care if they suspect they or someone they know has contracted COVID-19 or has come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
- The CDC Quarantine & Isolation Calculator is a tool to help determine how long you need to isolate, quarantine, or take other steps to prevent spreading COVID-19.
- Recommendations for People with COVID
- Recommendations for COVID-19 Close Contacts (You were less than 6 feet away from someone with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period)
NANPA will let you know if anything changes prior to the event.
We thank you in advance for your adherence and support as we work together to keep everyone safe.
Thank You to NANPA’s 2022 Regional Events Sponsor