Feathers & Flights, Bird Watching & Wine Tasting with Experienced Naturalist, Alyssa Johnson & Daena Ford of Braddock Bay Raptor Research

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Date(s) - 05/13/2023
11:00 am - 2:00 pm

4021 Italy Hill Road
Branchport, NY 14418


   Celebrate spring in the Finger Lakes at Hunt Country Vineyards!  We welcome you to join us for a unique experience that will interest bird watchers and wine enthusiasts alike! 

   Embark on a gentle walk through the vineyard and into Hunt Country’s nearby woodland with local naturalist Alyssa Johnson. 

   Return to Hunt Country’s beautiful & historic barn where Daena Ford will feature LIVE birds of prey, while you enjoy a  flight of Hunt Country wines, accompanied by local nibbles. 

$40 per guest, includes Hunt Country history & sustainability with Suzanne Hunt, bird walk with Alyssa Johnson, & a live raptor presentation with Daena Ford while enjoying a Flight of 5 Wines and local nibbles.

Event Overview:

To start you will be greeted by Suzanne Hunt, co-owner of Hunt Country Vineyards and a Sustainability Professional.  Suzanne will offer a brief talk about Hunt Country history, the gorgeous grounds you will be walking, and Hunt Country’s sustainability efforts.

Alyssa will take you on a guided walk, and will discuss the spring songbird, as well as point out any birds seen or heard along the way.  During your tour of Hunt Country’s scenic vineyards and woodlands, you can expect to come across birds such as American Kestrels, Bobolinks, and Eastern Meadowlarks in the grasslands.  As well as a variety of warblers, vireos, and thrushes in the woodland.  You may even get lucky enough to spot a Bald Eagle soaring over the vineyards!

Upon return to the barn, your tasting flights and nibbles of local cheeses, charcuterie, and more will be waiting for you while the final component of the event features several live birds of prey, handled by Braddock Bay Raptor Research President, Daena Ford. You will get to see these impressive birds up close, so don’t forget your camera!

Be Prepared:

This event will run rain or shine, unless severe inclement weather is forecasted to occur.

The route is approximately 1.5 miles total, “there and back”, not a loop. The walk will follow a farm road which is gravel, dirt, and sometimes presents uneven footing.  Please wear comfortable shoes, hiking shoes, or sneakers and bring a water bottle!  Also, be sure to check the weather and wear layers, and clothing appropriate to the forecast.

We suggest you eat a hearty breakfast before arriving.  Outdoor walks always seem to provoke rumbling hungry bellies.  You will be able to indulge in the snacks provided during the tasting and Daena’s bird presentation, but also consider bringing a picnic to enjoy on the Hunt Country grounds after the event.  You can purchase wines by the glass or bottle, local Climbing Bines Beer, or NA beverages from our Tasting Room.  We have outdoor seating and beautiful grounds for picnics.

Alyssa Johnson:

   Alyssa Johnson is an experienced naturalist, educator, and outdoor recreation guide.  Driven by her passion for getting people excited about nature, Alyssa takes pride in providing inclusive, engaging, and fun experiences for all ages.  After obtaining her education from Finger Lakes Community College (‘12), and SUNY Cobleskill (‘14), Alyssa traveled the country in pursuit of working in the field of wildlife management and environmental education.  She has worked with a variety of entities including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and the National Audubon Society at the Montezuma Wetlands Complex.  Currently, Alyssa’s “day job” is working as program director with Finger Lakes Community Action overseeing a NYS Department of Health grant, “Creating Healthy Schools and Communities”.  In late 2022, she launched an environmental education and consulting business, The Bare Handed Naturalist.  When she’s not working, you’ll still find her exploring this beautiful region looking and listening for birds, searching for fossils, learning wildflowers, and hiking with her golden retriever, Addie.

Daena Ford:

  President of Braddock Bay Raptor Research, Daena Ford currently lives in Honeoye Falls, NY with her husband, two teenage children, and two dogs.  She has a BS in biology and masters in secondary science education.  She has been working with Braddock Bay Raptor Research for 30 years.  Starting out as a college intern, she quickly became hooked on raptors after witnessing the amazing spectacle of spring migration that occurs along the south shore of Lake Ontario.  She has worked with raptors in both research and educational settings, both of which help the community learn more about the birds and the environment we share with them.  Daena’s education work with raptors early on lead her into the classroom where she taught middle school science for 6 years.  She currently holds education permits to care for 4 non-releasable raptors, which are used in programs conducted both on site at Braddock Bay, and lucky for us, throughout the community.  Daena has also served on the board of directors for the Hawk Migration Association of North America from 2010-18.

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