Bird-lovers flock to Brooker Creek for a special hike that focuses on feathered creatures, such as this red-bellied woodpecker, that call the preserve home.
TARPON SPRINGS - Beginning at 10:30 a.m. each Thursday in September, youngsters continue to be treated to the ever-popular Book Time at Brooker. For 45 minutes, tots ages 3 to 5 connect to the wonders of the natural world through stories and crafts, games or other hands-on activities.
Brooker Creek Preserve is known for the number of free hikes available throughout the preserve. On Saturday, Sept. 7, 14, 21 and 28 hikers see how the land has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes on a 0.75 mile walk. Closed-toe shoes, water and hat recommended on this 90-minute hike beginning at 9 a.m. Best for ages 6 and older. Advance registration required.
Join University of Florida extension instructor Lara Miller on Saturday, Sept. 7, for a citizen scientist workshop. This free training will engage volunteers in the collection of local ecological information and an introduction to Natureís Notebook, a project of the USA National Phenology Network. This 9 a.m. to noon class will include both indoor and outdoor components so come prepared to make some observations outside.
On Saturday, Sept. 14, bird-lovers will enjoy this 8 to 10:30 a.m. hike to identify common birds of Brooker Creek Preserve. Meander along the one-mile trail to gather information on the birds seen and heard. Binoculars will be helpful. Bring water
Join an experienced naturalist in a wildlife hike on Friday, Sept. 27 from 9 to 11 a.m. Hiking along boardwalks and natural trails through Brooker Creek Preserve is sure to be a learning experience for everyone. Come prepared with binoculars, cameras and questions. Any questions the hike guide cannot answer will be researched in the Resource Room upon return to the Education Center.
On Saturday, Sept. 28 local photographers and master naturalists Karl and Kathleen Nichter highlight seasonal features that will help participants capture the natural beauty of the Brooker Creek Preserve. After a brief classroom session, the group will hike the boardwalk and trails looking for those shots that reflect the season. This two-hour hike, beginning at 8:30 a.m. is recommended for adults and children 12 and older.
From 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 21, several live birds of prey will be used to illustrate aspects of predator-prey relationships, adaptations that ensure success as predators and their role in maintaining healthy, balanced ecosystems. The basic natural history of each species is also discussed along with the impact of humans on their habitats and populations.
Join the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve on Saturday, Sept. 28, for the wildflower garden club. For two-hours you can get your gardening hands dirty in the preserveís wildflower garden. Bring garden gloves and hat. As this is an 8 a.m. start, morning snacks are usually provided.
Donít miss Brooker Creek Preserveís ongoing exhibit Windows to Our Wildest Place. These permanent, hands-on educational exhibits help visitors understand how natural Florida has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes. Brooker Creek Environmental Education Center at 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; closed all Pinellas County holidays. Call 453-6800 or visit www.brookercreekpreserve.org.
Brooker Creek Preserve protects more than 8,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The preserve, the horse trails and the Friends Trail are open daily and holidays. Videos featuring Brooker Creek Preserve can be viewed at www.youtube.com/pcctv1.