Meaning “saved marsh” in the Timucuan language, The Nature Conservancy’s Machaba Balu Preserve presents a unique birding by boat experience. This property, managed in partnership with the National Park Service and the Florida Park Service, protects vast acreage of salt marsh, oyster bars and maritime hammock, pine and shell islands between the Nassau and St. Johns Rivers. Whether you explore by motorboat or kayak, there’s an endless variety of routes and birds awaiting you including Marsh Wren, Clapper Rail, Wilson’s Plover, Piping Plover, Painted Bunting, and Seaside Sparrow; Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows winter on the preserve. Manatees, dolphins, and Loggerhead Sea Turtles can also be spotted here. Outfitters along Heckscher Drive/A1A offer kayak rentals and guided tours. Launch points include Sister’s Creek Marina (restrooms available) on Heckscher Drive, Big Talbot Island State Park, Cedar Point, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, Alimacani Boat Ramp on the Fort George River and The Palms boat ramp on Clapboard Creek. Download a map from The Nature Conservancy’s website, and as always, watch the weather and take appropriate precautions when boating.