BirdMania March 2022

Discussion in 'PIXELMANIA!' started by Joanie Eddis-Koch, Dec 31, 2021.

  1. This is a thread to post what our plans are for Birdmania... Directly after Birdmania, some of us are planning on heading up to Disney.

    I'm posting this thread on here in case anybody is thinking about joining us.

    Some of us are starting out in Boca Raton and doing the bird thing with @zackiedawg . Three other pixelmaniacs have a trip plan to Disney directly after bird mania ends. (Gary, Nancy and Joanie)


    THE dates are from:
    (Joanie and Karl) Thursday March 3rd in Boca check out Monday March 7th at Boca and then drive to Disney. We'll Leave Orlando on Monday March 14th
    Staying at:
    Holiday Inn Express Boca Raton-West, an IHG Hotel
    8144 Glades Rd | Boca Raton, FL, 33434, US

    On Sunday March 6th we'll be moving up to Cabana Bay and staying until the 14th. Karl flies home on Wednesday And I drive back on Monday the 14th.

    Nancy and Michelle
    Staying at
    : Riverside March 2-9. We have our park reservations but we can just ‘park hop’ over to Epcot

    Karen and Gary. gary flies to orlando thursday 3/3 drives south to boca raton, holiday inn express, bird mania friday 3/4 and saturday 3/5. sunday 3/6 gary leaves boca early, stops at 7 am to try for a ratatouille boarding group and picks karen up at 1030 at mco.

    staying at boardwalk villas sunday to friday 3/11, but no park time friday, we have a 7:30 am flight home.

    The goal in sharing our plans is to coordinate with each other concerning things like park reservations and dining reservations, to see if that matches up with what other people want to do together.

    The first thing that we know we want to do is get together, most likely on Thursday at Epcot, to do dinner at the Biergarten or maybe lunch. We'll have to see what we can get.

    @gary @Nancy AK

    And perhaps @ddindy @mSummers
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2022
  2. Nancy AK

    Nancy AK Member

    We’ll be at Riverside March 2-9. We have our park reservations but we can just ‘park hop’ over to Epcot
  3. Nancy AK

    Nancy AK Member

    2 of us. Thank you
  4. Nancy AK

    Nancy AK Member

    Michele Stapleton
  5. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Ooh - sign me up for the Boca bird meet...oh, wait...yeah, I'm already here.
    jbwolffiv and Joanie Eddis-Koch like this.
  6. I'll save this post for information about the Biergarten lunch ?/dinner ? on Thursday March 10th
    Nancy AK likes this.
  7. gary

    gary Member

    karen and gary. gary flies to orlando thursday 3/3 drives south to boca raton, holiday inn express, bird mania friday 3/4 and saturday 3/5. sunday 3/6 gary leaves boca early, stops at 7 am to try for a ratatouille boarding group and picks karen up at 1030 at mco. staying at boardwalk villas sunday to friday 3/11, but no park time friday, we have a 7:30 am flight home. so biergarten lunch on thursday works better, or an early dinner, say 6 pm??
  8. Some Disney Tourist Blog speculation on crowd levels;

    "Following that, March 7-10, 2022 should offer a window of low crowds. This will be a great time to visit, and if you need a longer trip, you’d probably be okay adding March 6 or even March 11 to your trip. We realize this isn’t a full week, but there’s a reason for that.

    Both Osceola and Orange County, Florida are scheduled to have their Spring Breaks March 14-18, 2022. In addition to that, both have a student holiday on March 11, 2022. That alone will make that week plus the weekends before and after pretty busy."

    As always, take these thoughts on crowd levels with a grain of alcohol, or salt, or whatever does ya dirty.
    Nancy AK likes this.
  9. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Mousesavers just sent out an email with hotel deal that had this warning:
    "The following holiday and spring break dates may have slightly higher rates: Feb. 19-21, March 4-5, 11-12, 14-19 and April 14-16."
    I'm not aware of any holidays in March, so the 4-5 is a mystery (unless people are going to WDW for a pre-Lent blowout).
    Nancy AK and Joanie Eddis-Koch like this.
  10. I have secured a reservation at the Biergarten for 1:40 pm on Thursday March 10th for 6 people. Karl will be flying out on Wednesday so we will have 1 open seat for any last minute Pixelmaniac slackers. (Peer pressure @ddindy )

    Attention @Nancy AK . Please chime in and let us know if you And Michelle are interested and able to attend this lunch with us.

    @ddindy Nom, Nom! It's the Biergarten!! Get some!!!

    2. Karen
    3. Gary
    Nancy AK likes this.
  11. Nancy AK

    Nancy AK Member

  12. ddindy

    ddindy Member Staff Member

    Sorry, I'm staying isolated until COVID evolves into a harmless bug.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2022
  13. @zackiedawg
    Gary Karl, and I have some questions for you.

    First off, are we going to be continuously walking or are we going to be stalking in a single spot for shots?

    If we are picking a spot and shooting from the one location is it best to bring some sort of folding chair or camp stool? Also concerning the terrain, is it going to be wet and muddy in general? I'm trying to figure out the best footwear for these nature hikes.

    I'm also wondering what your lens recommendations are. I have the Nikon 200 to 500 mm lens that I can bring and also the 70 to 200 and then some wider angle lenses.

    I'm thinking it's probably best to shoot with the 70 to 200, but I'm wondering how far these birds are from the camera. I tried shooting this past weekend with the 70 to 200 but the birds were few and really far away.

    This weekend I'll try out my 200 to 500 on my Z9 with the lens adapter that takes a DSLR lens and makes it fit on a mirrorless body.

    I also have a Wimberley gimbal to shoot with. Is that something that you recommend using or is it not really applicable to what we'll be doing? I'm thinking with that 200 to 500 mm lens that gimbal might come in handy.

    The other thing that we're wondering about is restaurant recommendations. Do you have any for us?

    Sorry for all the questions but we've really started to turn our attention to focusing on preparations for this trip. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your assistance as well as your friendship.

    The other thing I wanted to ask you about was how you made out with your most recent Disney trip. Did you try and use genie or was it not necessary because it wasn't crowded? I guess I should ask if it was crowded when you went.

    That genie crap is really annoying to me as well as the park reservation BS. I have my Park reservation set for the maximum number of days that I can make it but I'll be spending the mornings and Tuesday night at Universal.

    I managed to get a spot on one of the Mardi gras floats so I'll be trying to inflict brain damage on the parade spectators as I toss beads from one of the parade floats.

    @gary will probably chime in with his questions as well.

    Nancy AK likes this.
  14. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    In general, it's mostly walking - but not huge distances or speed walking - the two primary wetlands we'll be visiting are about 1 mile around and 1.5 miles around, I generally walk slowly around, stopping when I see something interesting - I might stay in one spot for 5-10 minutes if something really good is going on...but you rarely need to stake out a single spot and wait for things to come as there's stuff everywhere...unless there's one very specific animal you are trying to see (some folks will spend a few hours waiting for a bobcat to wander out on the levee, or stake out near the hawk nest to catch them going in and out). I personally don't find it necessary - I'd rather keep moving along to see other things and stop if it's good.

    At Green Cay and Wakodahatchee, they are mostly boardwalks raised above the water or scrub islands...or paved sections. No muddy wanderings at all. Now, if you want to try out some of the other spots, such as Arthur Marshall or Peaceful Waters, both of those locations will have grass and dirt levees that you'll be walking on - but they're well trodden and well maintained, so no special boots or protective footwear needed. I'd probably go with closed toe shoes just because of the rocks, grasses, and vines that might hurt the toes or get into the shoe. I usually wear Sketchers - mule-style - closed toe, open heel. Anything like that or any sneaker is fine. At Green Cay and Wako, you could go with sandals or pretty much anything you want (OK, don't do stilettos - you'll probably get stuck in the wood slats...but anything else should be OK).

    You shouldn't need any chairs or stools, unless standing for a while might get tiresome - you could do stools or walking stick/seats that don't block the boardwalk, but you couldn't do full camp chairs. Throughout both boardwalks, there are spots to stop in covered gazebos with benches, or little popouts on the boardwalk with benches, so as you go around the mile loops, you have places you could stop for a rest, or even stay there a while and shoot what comes by.

    You'll have plenty of opportunities for close birds - and there will always be a few interesting things farther away - you can bring the bigger lenses to shoot the more distant stuff if you want, but if you decided to go light, there'd still be plenty of things to shoot close. At Wakodahatchee, you'll probably find about 60% of the birds and wildlife within 30 feet, and as close as 1 foot. A few species might stay farther back, maybe 20% will be 30-70 feet away...and another 20% will be 70+ feet. Within the 1 mile walk around, you will see somewhere between 500 and 2,000 birds and a few hundred reptiles. At Green Cay, it's a bigger park, and you'll have more times when things are farther away - but still plenty of close opportunities - it's probably around 30-40% within 30 feet, 20-30% within 30-70 feet, and 30-50% farther than 70 feet. There are less concentrated birds, but more species and diversity. I think if you brought the 70-200 and 200-500mm, you'd cover 98% of all needs. The wide angle stuff would be if you want to catch a few scenics, or show some wide shots of just how many birds there are and how close you get to them, for people who might not otherwise believe or understand that you are walking through a corridor of several hundred birds just 3-20 feet away, not minding you at all.

    I think that's always a personal choice - I do all my BIF shooting handheld, and never liked shooting off a tripod or monopod...but I see people who do their BIF work with them. I don't think you need one with a 200-500mm lens - but that also depends on your endurance and whether you're accustomed to swinging around that lens for a few hours handheld. If I was shooting a 600mm F4, I might stick it on a tripod or monopod, as that would be quite a monster for all day handheld shooting.

    I can come up with some - depending on if you're looking for places close to where you're staying, for dinners and such, or places close to the wetlands to grab a lunch or snack. I generally don't bother eating when I'm at the wetlands - I have breakfast before I go, keep drinks in a cooler in my car, and then head home and have dinner. The wetlands aren't close to many restaurants - but there is a supermarket with a good deli just 1/2 mile from Green Cay, and if you wander a mile or two south, there are some small cafes and Subways & such. In Boca where you're staying, there are plenty of restaurants from fast-food level up to fine dining - just let me know the type of food you are looking for and price levels, and I can come up with a few. Right around your hotel, there's a great breakfast spot (Original Pancake House), a kosher grill, sushi and Asian places, and an Ale house. If you head east up Glades Road about 2 miles, there are many more selections including Cheesecake Factory, Houston's grill, Capital Grille Steakhouse, Maggiano's, Morton's Steakhouse, New York Prime, Rocco's Tacos, Seasons 52, and more. Another 2 miles east to Federal Highway, and from there south you could add about 250 more restaurants of every possible type.

    It was fairly crowded when I went in December, and again last week...but not ridiculous levels. I really dislike the Genie thing - so I never bothered to use the 'free' version as it seems pointless, and so far, I wasn't tempted enough to pay for the 'plus' version or use any individual lightning lane money-grabs. If the line was really long, I skipped it...or circled back later. I went on Rise of the Resistance in December with a not-crazy 50 minute standby, though it turned out to be a little over an hour. This time, I went on Remy's as the standby was 40 minutes. When I got to AK, the Kilimanjaro was 70 minutes so I skipped it at 1pm, went back around at 4:50pm and it was 10 minutes. At MK, POTC and HM lines were in the 40-60 minute range in the early afternoon, and 30-40 min in the evening.

    Agreed. There is nothing I like about Genie, plus, or lightning lane. And the park reservation thing was supposed to be a temporary 'pandemic' thing but seems they're stretching it out and keeping it for a while - hate it.

    I didn't even know they did that at Universal. I rode a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans when I was going to college there - I had an 'in' to get on the Bacchus Krewe (not an easy thing to do as those Krewes are super-difficult to get into - riders pay membership dues at different levels and there's a wait list). Lots of fun - and indeed, there are some people who you just enjoy beaning with the beads or a handful of doubloons.
    Joanie Eddis-Koch likes this.
  15. As far as "table service" restaurants are concerned, Karl and I would like to take you out for dinner, if you have time, to say thank you for all your help. Just pick something that you like that would fit into your schedule and we'll go from there.

    I still need to hear from Gary about what he's thinking as far as restaurants or trying to coordinate meals or type of food that he's interested in.

    The trekking and lens information was really helpful so thanks for taking the time to write all that. Karl and I are driving down so that helps us to lighten the load and not take things that we "might" need, and only take things that we will definitely need.

    To get on one of the floats at Universal, you have to be an annual pass holder and then lightning has to strike, and right when they release the reservation sign ups, you have to be online and get your name on the list.

    I have been stalking the Universal AP Facebook page just to try and find out the information about how it all worked and I saw that somebody had just posted that the sign ups were live.

    The weekend spots were gone immediately but I was able to get the Tuesday that I wanted to do it on because I accessed the list 10 minutes after release. Every single spot was gone within an hour so I really did get struck with lightning and get lucky on getting a spot!

    The previous time that I saw this parade and I tried to photograph it I had to put the camera away because people were deliberately flinging beads at my lens to try and hook it. I promise to be a good thrower and only aim for people's heads.

  16. gary

    gary Member

    i like food (done in my best strange kid on line for santa voice)
  17. Sea food it is then!!

    I really like sea food. Do you and Karen want to go to the Boathouse instead of the Biergarten on Thursday March 10th?
  18. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    OK - well get that seafood out of your systems at Disney - that's the one thing I do NOT eat! Save your ideas down here for something like Mexican, Italian, bar/pub, or just plain old 'Merican food. Meats, chickens, pastas, rices, veggies, barbeque - I'm pretty versatile...just no seafood. We've got the super-hip celebrity chef spots that have lines to get in and valets parking Ferraris and Lamborghinis all night, and we have hole-in-the-wall places known only to locals that are shorts and t-shirt unpretentious. Food's good either way. I'm more the hole in the wall guy myself, but can do the flash spots too if called for. Maybe we should do Cuban food - we have a great local spot and that's something kind of unique to South Florida. Just to throw a few ideas around.
  19. You get to pick, so no pressure. Karl and I are easy and I have a feeling @gary will be the same. I don't think we need to do fancy.

    A local like yourself will know where the great places are and you can see what you're hungry for when it gets closer to the date of our get together.


    We are grateful for your guidance. The tourist traps are never really that great, food wise.
  20. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Sounds good. BTW - I did take Friday off of work so I can relax and enjoy both Fri and Saturday. Depending on how you all want to handle getting around, I can pop by the hotel to pick everyone up and drive us around to the wetlands spots, so you don't have to go trying to follow directions or deal with parking (during nesting season, Wakodahatchee can get quite packed - it can take 10-15 minutes in line trying to get a parking spot)...or I can provide directions if you want to go it on your own to get there. My car is big enough for 5 people and all the gear if needed. I think Green Cay and Wakodahatchee are the primary spots and main draw, so I'd plan on those for Friday...then Saturday we could start off heading west to Peaceful Waters and/or Arthur Marshall to see if anything good is out there, and still wrap up the day with some more Wako and Green Cay if the pickings are slimmer (the western spots can have some really cool sightings, but aren't as packed as a place like Wakodahatchee where there are more birds packed in than the aviaries in Animal Kingdom.
    Joanie Eddis-Koch likes this.

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