Skip to main content
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Florida Birds Regional Event (March 20-23, 2024)

March 20 - March 23

Leader | Travel & lodging | What to expect | Preliminary itinerary

Registration is now open

Event Overview

Join Karen Schuenemann to photograph birds and alligators in their natural environment and capture the colorful sunrises and sunsets in Florida. This event is timed for migrating, nesting and courtship season. 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.

Early Bird Rate: $685 NANPA & ASMP Members/$885 Non-members by February 19, 2024
After February 19, 2024: $785 NANPA & ASMP Members/$985 Non-members
Last Date to Register:  March 15, 2024
Maximum number of attendees: 10

Barred Owl captured in Florida Copyright Karen Schuenemann



Karen Schuenemann

Karen Schuenemann is a wildlife and bird photographer. She was awarded a Highly Commended Award-Bird Behavior 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.


Travel and lodging


  • Orlando Airport (MCO)

Transportation to and from the hotel and during the event is not included and is the attendees’ responsibility. Car rental is available at the airport.


The base for this event will be at:

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Orlando East-UCF Area
12250 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32826

Tel:  407-203-8585

Check in time: 3 pm, Check out time: 11 am

  • Parking Fee of $9 plus tax is waived (one vehicle per room)
  • Complimentary Hot Breakfast
  • Complimentary High Speed Wireless Internet Service to all registered guests

NANPA is holding a block of rooms for event participants at the following rates:

  • (3) Double Queen Standard: $165 + tax (12.5%) per night
  • (7) King Standard: $155 + tax (12.5%) per night

To book a room at this discounted rate please call the hotel directly at 407-203-8585 and ask for a room in the “NANPA” room block.

The last date to book a room in the NANPA room block is March 1, 2024 at 5 pm Eastern Time.


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 the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Orlando East-UCF Area. 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 location of the first night’s group dinner will be announced at the Meet and Greet.



Gatorland hosts a rookery in which a variety of birds including Egrets will be nesting in March Copyright Karen Schuenemann


What to expect

Photography Locations:

  • Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 to protect migratory birds. It is located on the “Atlantic Flyway”, a bird migration corridor and is a key resting stop for migrating birds. 358 species of birds have been identified on the refuge which consists of 140,000 acres on a 35-mile-long barrier island. The refuge provides a variety of habitats from coastal dunes and saltwater marshes to pine flatwoods, scrub, and hardwood hammocks. 15 federally listed threatened and endangered species call the refuge home, one of the highest numbers within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

  • Orlando Wetlands

The Orlando Wetlands Park is man-made wetland, 1650 acres in size, that provides advanced treatment for reclaimed water from the city of Orlando and other local cities. It offers various wetland habitats for migratory birds that show up during the fall and stay through March / April. Over 200 species have been spotted at the Orlando Wetlands.

  • Gatorland

Gatorland offers a 10-acre marsh that is a natural bird rookery during nesting season. Birds arrive from all over due to the warmer weather and protection from predators that the alligators provide. In spring you’ll see Cattle Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons, Anhingas, Cormorants, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and maybe even a Spoonbill.

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 Wednesday afternoon during the Registration/Orientation.


Expect to walk 2-3 miles on uneven terrain or sand.


March Climate & Weather Averages in Orlando, Florida:
High Temp: 79 °F, Low Temp: 58 °F, Mean Temp: 68 °F

Weather should be quite comfortable, not too hot, not too cold, but do plan for the possibility of rain, wind or heat!


  • Long sleeve “safari” type shirts that protect you from sun and bugs
  • Long pants
  • Short Sleeve top in the event that it gets quite warm
  • Pair of shorts
  • Rain jacket or sweatshirt, just in case we have some cool or wet weather
  • Hat with brim to protect from strong, harsh sunlight
  • Comfortable walking shoes


Bring “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.  Also bring 5-10 images on a thumb drive to share with group: Sized 2000 px on long side, 300 dpi

  • 1-2 Camera Bodies
  • Long Lens e.g. 100-400mm, 500, 600,
  • Landscape (Short Lens) e.g. 24-70mm, 50mm, 70-200mm
  • Extra Batteries (Charged)
  • Extra Cards
  • Monopod/Tripod
  • Lens Cleaner cloths
  • Backpack to carry gear
  • Computer and Cord
  • Extension Cord
  • Battery Charger
  • Card Reader


  • Sun Screen
  • Bug Spray
  • Stay Cool Towel
  • Head Lamp or small flashlight for early mornings
  • Water (Could bring Water Bottle along on entire trip)
  • Snacks
  • Optional small folding chair


We will be based in the Orlando, 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.

Attendance and participation at NANPA Regional Events is limited to registered attendees only.  Anyone wishing to participate in any portion of, or travel with a registered attendee during the group event must contact the NANPA office and pay the full registration fee.


Tri-Colored Heron looking for fish Copyright Karen Schuenemann

Preliminary itinerary

Please note schedules are fluid due to weather conditions, and other variables.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

  • Arrive in Orlando
  • Meet at 4 pm at the hotel meeting room. Karen will share a presentation on “Bird and Wildlife Photography in Florida”, provide a review of gear, techniques, and information on where we will be meeting for shoots
  • Participants should bring 5-10 photos on USB/thumb-drive to share with the group.
  • Group dinner (included)

Thursday, March 21, 2024

  • Meet at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge entrance at 8 am. Drive the Black Point Wildlife Drive, a 7-mile drive that meanders through a large area of marsh. In March we should see quite a variety of birds and possibly even a bobcat!
  • Spend morning and afternoon at the Refuge, with break from 11 am -1:30 pm
  • Merritt Island entrance is $9.00 per person, and a Refuge Pass is not required if the visitor is in possession of a current and signed Federal Duck Stamp or an America the Beautiful Interagency Pass.

Friday, March 22, 2024

  • Meet at Orlando Wetlands at sunrise, and walk the boardwalk
  • Tram tour at 9am (Free)
  • Visit the education center
  • Lunch on your own
  • 4 – 6 pm Meet at hotel’s Waterford meeting room for a photo review from this morning, discuss camera settings, improvements, and editing techniques.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

  • Check out of hotel
  • Meet at Gatorland when it opens at 10 am. Photograph at the rookery.
  • Entrance fee $39.99 per person (included)
  • We can walk the boardwalk and are able to get up close to the nesting birds! It is really special to see these birds at such close range.

Event concludes at noon, but people can continue to stay and enjoy the rest of the park if they desire.

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.



March 20
March 23
Event Category:


USA - Southeast
USA States/Territories
Florida, New Mexico, Washington
Type of event
On Location
Cost range


FL United States + Google Map