EVENTS: Choctawhatchee Audubon Society home page
Audubon Florida Rooftop Volunteer(s) Sought
Help with 15-minute ground surveys of rooftops that have hosted colonial waterbird nests in the past. These surveys take place once a week starting in late March and continue until either a colony is finished or generally the end of August. If a site does not become active by June 1st, we cut back its surveying to once a month. Once the weekly survey has been completed the data sheet can be emailed or texted to Emily McKiddy: email@example.com or (608) 332-3802. Email, call, or text Emily to learn more about becoming a rooftop “adopter” for 2017. Some sites still need a volunteer to “adopt” them in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
CAS Newsletter Shorelines (PDF files)
and some past trip reports (PDF files)
(see page footer below)
FIELD TRIPS AND PROGRAMS
Fall events begin in August. Field Trips and Programs (Shows) are free and open to the public. Field Trips begin near the trip's birding site. Programs are held the first Thursday of most months (not June/July) beginning at 6:30 PM, and each night's program begins at 7:00. Place: In Room 130 on the ground floor of the Student Services Center at Northwest FL State College main campus in Niceville. For more information, click our Facebook link or call Don Baltz at (225) 252-2760 ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). The interested public is invited to all of the events. Children should be accompanied by their parent(s) or guardian(s).
PREVIOUS 2017 PROGRAMS AND FIELD TRIPS
March 25, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to Veterans Park, Okaloosa Island. Malcolm Mark Swan (210 343 9082) leads this trip to Veterans Park, home to a large rookery of nesting Great Blue Herons. The park supports a diverse assemblage of waterbirds and songbirds. It is a perfect time for herons in breeding plumage and Spring migrants. We visit bayshore, barrier island woodland, and 5 wetlands. Meet 7:30 am in the NE corner of the Emerald Coast Convention Center parking lot. Wear closed-toed shoes & perhaps a hat.
April 1, SATURDAY FIELD TRIP to Ft. Pickens. Gulf Islands National Seashore. Leader: Lenny Fenimore, 850 863 2039. Meet 7:30 am at the Uptown Station, 99 Eglin Parkway NE, Fort Walton Beach (city) or Battery Langdon at 845 AM.Wear long pants, closed shoes & hat. Bring bios, scopes & camera.
April 6, MONTHLY PRESENTATION: Bug Eyes: What do insects see, and how do we know? by John K. Douglass, Research scientist, Eglin Air Force Base. Insect eyes are drastically different from vertebrate eyes, but having good vision can be extremely important for survival whether you’re a tiny insect or a giant squid. Thus, it comes as no surprise that various kinds of eyes have evolved to be exquisitely tuned to each animal’s visual needs. In this talk, I will aim to describe how insect eyes work, ways in which they differ from vertebrate eyes, and some of the basic features and limitations that all eyes have in common. I’m often asked, “how do we know so much about insect eyes?” To address that question, I will include some examples of the methods scientists use to study insect vision.
April 8, ESTUARY FESTIVAL at Fred Gannon State Park, Niceville. Contact: Margaret Benner, 850 678 6665. Meet 9:00 am at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park Rt 20, Niceville. Spend a day in the Park teaching children about birds.
April 21, CAS SPRING RETREAT to Port St Joe (100 mi SE of Destin). Leader: Margaret Benner, 850 678 6665. Please ensure that Margaret has your name for the retreat (21st-22nd April) as the boat tour company wants the exact number of passengers. To date, we have 15 firm participants. (no wobbly ones yet, ha-ha.) Overnight at the MainStay Suites, 3951 East Hwy 98, Port St Joe, call 850-229-6246 for reservations. Meet for ‘Orientation’ at 5:00 pm
May 4 MONTHLY PRESENTATION: Eglin AFB Gopher Tortoise Conservation presented by Erica Laine, Biologist and Volunteer Coordinator, Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions, Eglin Natural Resources.
May 6, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to Okaloosa County Landfill (Wright Compost Facility). Leader: Bruce Purdy, 305 926 6030. Meet 7:30 am at Pepitos Restaurant, 1313 Lewis Turner Blvd. Wear closed shoes, bring binoculars and cameras.
May 13, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to Eglin Air Force Base for Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Leader: Malcolm Mark Swan, 210 343 9082. Meet 7:00 am at the Eglin AFB Armament Museum parking lot, 100 Museum Dr, Eglin AFB. Search for Bachman’s Sparrow and Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Must have a Jackson-Gard Pass for Eglin Reservation prior to this date.
May 20, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to Laidlaw Plantation, Bay County. Leader: Ron Houser, 850 381 5651. Meet 7:00 am at CVS, Oak Creek Shopping Center parking lot, Niceville.Bring sack lunch & wear sturdy shoes, hat & bugspray.
2017 January 5 THUR EVENING MEETING and Presentation: Sex in the Sitta* - the Complex Social World of the Brown-headed Nuthatch by Jim Cox, Director of the Stoddard Bird Lab, at the Tall Timbers Research Station. A ton of intriguing biology is wrapped around this diminutive nuthatch. The Brown-headed Nuthatch is one of three bird species found only in the southern U.S. Pinelands. Their treetop antics and rubber ducky calls make these inquisitive birds a pleasure to watch, but population declines coupled with interesting behaviors call for closer scientific attention. Like Florida Scrub-Jays and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, adult nuthatches often forego the chance to breed and instead help other adults raise young. Unlike woodpeckers and jays, cooperative breeding among nuthatches frequently includes assistance provided to adults from individuals that are not close relatives. This creates complex social arrangements with many intriguing twists and turns. *The Sitta genus includes two dozen species worldwide with 4 species in the US. The meeting will be held in room 130 of the student services building (BLDG 400) at the Northwest Florida State College- Niceville campus. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM and the program at 7:00 PM. Admission is free and open to the public. Call or e-mail Dr. Don Baltz at (225) 252-2760, email@example.com for more information.
2017 January 14, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to Hurricane Lake area of northern Okaloosa County. Leader: Malcolm Mark Swan, 210 343 9082. Meet either (1) 7:00 am at the Eglin AFB Armament Museum parking lot, 100 Museum Dr, Eglin AFB. OR (2) 7:30 am at Whataburger along Rt. 85, in south Crestview. Looking for junco, Winter Wren, Rusty Blackbird, and raptors.
2017 January 28, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to Niceville & Valparaiso Shorelines. Leader: Walt Spence, 850 582 7064. Meet 8:00 am in Mattress Deport parking lot, Bayou Plaza, 597 W John Sims Pkwy in western Niceville. Bring binoculars and cameras for a mix of birds and local history
2017 February 2, MONTHLY PRESENTATION: “Birding in the Philippines” — Choctawhatchee Audubon Society member Lenny Fenimore will entertain you with a photographic account of his March 2016 birding trip to the Philippines. He explored the three large Philippine islands of Luzon, Mindanao and Palawan, covering diverse habitats from sea level to 9,000 feet, and saw representatives of 50 families of birds. The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the Student Services Center (Bldg 400) at the Northwest Florida State College - Niceville campus. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM and the program at 7:00 PM. Admission is free and open to the public. Call or e-mail Dr. Don Baltz at (225) 252-2760, firstname.lastname@example.org. for more information.
2017 February 11, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to Choctawhatchee River Landings, leader Margaret Benner. Meet 7:30 am in the Publix parking lot, Rt 331, Freeport. Possible owls, woodpeckers, Brown Creeper. Wear appropriate shoes. Enjoy lunch at the Rabbit Creek Café. Meet at the Freeport Publix parking lot on HY 331 at 7:30 AM. For additional information contact Margaret at (850) 678-6665
February 25, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to 7 Pines Native Nursery. Leader: Manager Dara Dobson, 850 830 8996. Meet 7:30 am in the CVS, Oak Creek Shopping Center parking lot, Niceville. See owls, hawks & sparrows. For more information contact Dara at (850) 830-8996.
March 2, MONTHLY PRESENTATION: Gulf Crossing: Story of Spring a video by Jackson Childs presenting explanations of bird migration and marvelous videos of the millions of birds that migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, typically an 18-HOUR NON-STOP flight! David A. Gandy will speak to us at a later date. The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the Student Services Center at Northwest FL State College main campus in Niceville. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM, and the program begins at 7:00 pm. Admission is free and open to the interested public. Call or e-mail Dr Don Baltz at 225 252-2760 for more information.
March 11, EMERALD COAST CAMERA CLUB is sponsoring a Saturday Morning Meet and Greet to Veterans Park, Okaloosa Island. Alan Knothe (850 208 1780) leads this excursion called, Learning Your Camera Focus Modes. Meet 7:45 am in the NE corner of the Emerald Coast Convention Center parking lot. Another contact: Maggi email@example.com Bring your point and shoot, cell phone or pro camera, closed toe shoes, light jacket and tripod recommended. Learn about the migratory birds and practice photographing them with ECCC members. Join us afterwards for brunch at Angler's Beachside Bar & Grill.
March 18, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP: Alan Knothe (850 208 1780) leads this exciting trip to a private woodland preserve near DeFuniak Springs. Get close to nature and see a variety of woodland species. Meet 7:30 am in the CVS parking lot in the Oak Creek Shopping Center off Rt 20, Niceville.
PREVIOUS 2016 PROGRAMS AND FIELD TRIPS
2016 January 7, THUR EVENING PROGRAM: The Choctawhatchee Audubon Society wishes to thank Walt Spence for serving as our President for the past several years. Helping to protect the Great Blue Herons at Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island is one of Walt's most recent endeavors. Our members and friends are invited to bring their favorite photographs of scenery and wildlife at Veterans Park.
2016 January 16, SAT. MORNING FIELD TRIP - Join members of the Bay County Audubon Society at 8:30 am in the Pepitos Restaurant parking lot at 1313 Lewis Turner Blvd. in Wright, Florida (north side of Fort Walton Beach). Experienced birder Lenny Fenimore will be our leader on this Bird Walk to the Wright Landfill, the Passerine Trail, and the Okaloosa Holding Ponds. Aside from Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island, these are among the most consistently productive sites in Okaloosa County.
2016 February 12-13/14, C.A.S. ANNUAL RETREAT - THIS YEAR TO CEDAR KEY (Park Place Motel). Contact Margaret Benner (850) 678-6665. Time and Location: 5:00PM at Park Place Motel, 211 2nd St, Cedar Key. We will bird island nature trails, and take a boat trip to other islands including famous Seahorse Key. The Boat will approach to 100 yards off shore without landing. Bring binoculars/scope/camera, AND bring warm clothes (coat, etc.) to break the wind chill.
2016 February 27, SAT. FIELD TRIP: FWB Landfill and Okaloosa Holding Ponds. Contact Alan Knothe (850) 208-1780. We meet 7:30 AM at the Pepitos Restaurant parking lot at 1313 Lewis Turner Blvd. in Wright, Florida (north side of Fort Walton Beach). We'll look for waders, herons, ducks and hawks.
2016 March 3, THURS PROGRAM: “The Biology of Marine Birds” by Professor Emeritus Don Baltz, Louisiana State University. Dr. Baltz will explore the biology of the four primary groups of marine birds, Sphenisciformes (Penguins), Procellariiformes (Albatrosses and relatives), Pelecaniformes (Cormorants and relatives), and Charadriiformes (Gulls and relatives). These groups include about 275 species distributed around the world. Each group shares unique characteristics, but families and species within each group make a living in the marine environment in diverse ways. Many other species, which are considered secondary marine birds, use the marine environment in some manner but breed and rear their young in freshwater systems. The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the Student Services Center at Northwest FL State College main campus in Niceville. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM, and the program begins at 7:00. Admission is free and open to the interested public. Call or e-mail Dr Don Baltz at 225 252-2760 for more information.
2016 March 12, SAT FIELD TRIP: South Walton Courthouse & local area. We meet leader Dee Nickerson (850) 499-9269 at 7:30 AM at the Bluewater Bay Winn Dixie, 4512 East Highway 20, Niceville under the sign, or at 8:15 at the SoWal (South Walton) Courthouse. We'll see early migrants, warblers and maybe a Northern Parula. Plan to have brunch together afterwards.
2016 March 19, SAT FIELD TRIP: 7 Pines Native Nursery. We meet leader Dara Dobson (850) 830-8996 at 7:30 AM at the CVS parking lot, Oak Creek Shopping Center, Niceville. We'll go N on 285, turn Rt on 90, at 331 turn left, go N for 6 mi. Turn Right onto Co Hwy 192. See sign at 2 miles on Right. Address: 2435 County Highway 192, Defuniak Springs, FL.
2016 March 26, SAT FIELD TRIP: Birding on Eglin AFB to see Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (maybe Bachman's Sparrow). We meet leader Malcolm Mark Swan (210) 343-9082 at 7:00 AM at the Eglin AFB Armament Museum parking lot, 100 Museum Dr, Eglin AFB. You must obtain a Jackson Guard Pass prior to this date to join the group. $20 for Annual Pass. Open weekdays at Eglin Jackson Guard office 107 Hwy 85 North, in Niceville.
2016 April 7, THURS PROGRAM: Retired Federal Fishery Biologist Dave Clausen will present a program on the flora and fauna of Lord Howe Island, a U.N. World Heritage Site off the coast of eastern Australia. Clausen visited the island in 2015 and will report on many of the unique, endemic species of wildlife. The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the Student Services Center at Northwest Fl State College main campus in Niceville. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM, and the program begins at 7:00. Admission is free and open to the interested public. Call Don Baltz at 225 252-2760 for more information.
2016 April 16, SAT. FIELD TRIP: Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island. We meet Malcolm Mark Swan (210) 343-9082 at 7:30 AM in the NE corner Emerald Coast Convention Center parking lot. We'll look for migrant songbirds, some of which may just arrived after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Over 200 species have been spotted here during the last 3 years. Looking for other animals and plants, as well. Wear closed shoes and hat. Binoculars, camera, and bugspray can be helpful at times. Restrooms at Ross Marler Park and the Convention Center.
2016 April 23, Saturday: ESTUARY FESTIVAL, ROCKY BAYOU SP. See Gary, Phyllis, Don & Walt Spence (850) 582-7064. We meet 9:00 at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park Rt 20, Niceville. We will spend a great day at the Park teaching children about birds.
2016 May 5, THURS PROGRAM. The Choctawhatchee Audubon Society will host a showing of a short film on Florida’s Coastal Dune Lakes on the Northwest Florida State College campus. Award winning film maker, Elam Stoltzfus, has provided a stunning view of the scenery, ecology, and importance of 15 lakes that are extraordinary features of the panhandle’s coast. While the lakes are not unique, similar systems are found in only a few other places around the world. Professor Jon Bryan, chair of the Science Department, will be on hand to discuss the lakes’ geology. Ms Brandy Foley of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance will describe the pivotal role that CBA has taken in ensuring the preservation of the lakes ecological integrity. The meeting will be held in a new location: Room 110 of the Robert E. Greene, Jr. Science Building (bldg 350) at Northwest Florida State College main campus in Niceville (click Earth view in Google Maps). Socializing begins at 6:30 PM, and the program begins at 7:00. Admission is free and open to the interested public. Call Don Baltz at 225 252-2760 for more information.
2016 May 14, SAT. FIELD TRIP: Bay County Audubon President Ron Houser (850) 381-5651 will guide us at Bay County Audubon’s Laidlaw Plantation; we'll see the improvements made for birders. Meet 7:00 AM at the CVS parking lot, Oak Creek Shopping Center, Niceville. Bring sack lunch & wear appropriate clothing, including study footwear, hat and bugspray. Bring binoculars and camera.
2016 May 21, Saturday: Coastal Bird Stewardship Program Training Walk. Contact Audubon Program Manager Caroline Stahala qt (850) 951-7704. We meet 7:30 AM at the Parking lot, SW Marler Bridge, Destin. We will learn what it takes to protect our nesting shorebirds such as Snowy plovers.
2016 August 4, THURS. PROGRAM: Dr. Caroline Stahala, Program Manager for Audubon Florida in the FL panhandle, will present Natural History and Conservation of the Bahama Parrot. All though the Bahama Parrot is one of the closest native parrots to the United States, people rarely know of this species. Caroline has been conducting behavioral and demographic studies on this parrot for 14 years now and will be presenting some of this work in addition to the species' natural history to Choctawhatchee Audubon Society. The Bahama Parrot is a charismatic and unique bird species. This parrot exhibits a unique behavior in that it nests underground in limestone solution cavities. This also poses unique management challenges which other parrots do not face. The Bahamas National Trust has addressed this challenge as well as other conservation issues through its management.
2016 September 1, THURSDAY MONTHLY PROGRAM: Jim Cox, Director of the Stoddard Bird Lab at Tall Timbers Research Station will present Sex in the Sitta: The Complex Social World of the Brown-headed Nuthatch. There is a ton of intriguing biology wrapped up in the diminutive Brown-headed Nuthatch. The nuthatch is one of three bird species found only in southern pinelands. The treetop antics and rubber ducky calls make these inquisitive birds a pleasure to watch, but population declines coupled with interesting behaviors call for more closer scientific attention. Like Florida Scrub-jays and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, adult nuthatches often forego the chance to breed and instead help other adults raise young. Unlike woodpeckers and jays, cooperative breeding among nuthatches frequently includes assistance provided to adults that are not close relatives. This creates complex social arrangements with many intriguing twists and turns.
2016 September 17, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to Okaloosa Holding Ponds and Wright Landfill area. Please join leader Lenny Fenimore 7:30 AM at the Pepitos Restaurant parking lot at 1313 Lewis Turner Blvd. in Wright, Florida (north side of Fort Walton Beach). Lenny will scope out waterfowl, waders and shorebirds migrating through the Florida Panhandle. Contact Lenny at 850 863-2039 for additional information.
2016 October 6, THURSDAY MONTHLY PROGRAM: “eBird: A tool for collecting, sharing, and discovering data on birds around the world”. Bruce Purdy, eBird reviewer, will present a primer on the use of eBird Mobile. eBird is part of a system developed by the Cornell Ornithological Lab at Cornell University. You can use it on a smart phone to keep records of your own observations and to find out where you might find new birds or birding hotspots when traveling to a new city or region. You may want to go online and check it out before the meeting---it is cool!!! The meeting will be held in room 130 of the Student Services Bldg 400 at Northwest Florida State College main campus in Niceville (click Earth view in Google Maps). Socializing begins at 6:30 PM and the program at 7:00 PM. Admission is free and open to the public. Call or e-mail Dr Don Baltz at 225 252-2760, dbaltz@LSU.edu for more information.
2016 October 8, SATURDAY FIELD TRIP to Fort Pickens, Gulf Islands National Seashore. Join leader Alan Knothe 850 208 1780 at either of two places/times: 7:00 AM at Uptown Station, 99 Eglin Parkway NE, Fort Walton Beach (city) or Battery Langdon at 8:15 AM. Wear water, long pants, closed shoes, hat, and binoculars. Look for migrants and learn about shorebirds with an enthusiastic birder. An adventure-packed day of birding in some of West Florida’s finest viewing locations. Click to read about the: PARK ENTRANCE FEE.
2016 October 15, SATURDAY EVENT Explore the Outdoors Festival, Live Oak Landing, Freeport. Leader: Lori Ceier 850 267 2064. Meet 9:00 AM at 229 Pitts Ave, Freeport WEBSITE: LIVE OAK LANDING RVC OUTDOORS This family festival centered on outdoor pursuits has a laid-back atmosphere and many different exhibitors in a gorgeous location. We’ll be using games to help children learn to identify birds, and will also offer hands-on instruction in the use of binoculars and spotting scopes. Audubon members who would like to volunteer to help should bring water, insect repellent, and a lawn chair. Call Margaret Benner at 850-678-6665 to volunteer to help. No admission fee is required.
2016 October 22, SATURDAY MORNING WALK at Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island. We meet Malcolm Mark Swan 210 343 9082 at 7:30 AM in the NE corner of the Emerald Coast Convention Center parking lot. We'll look for migrant songbirds, some of which may just arrived after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Over 210 species have been spotted here during the last 3 years. Looking for other animals and plants, as well. Wear closed shoes and hat. Bring binoculars and/or camera, and bugspray. Restrooms at Ross Marler Park and the Convention Center.
2016 November 3, THURSDAY EVENING PROGRAM: “USFWS Conservation Projects at Eglin AFB” by Bill Tate, Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mr. Tate will present his research in support of the Air Force resource/ecosystem management activities at Eglin. Eglin is home to several Threatened and Endangered species including the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Gopher Tortoise, Indigo Snake and Okaloosa Darter. Mr. Tate is a supervisory biologist for the USFWS office in Panama City currently assigned to Eglin as their aquatic ecologist.
2016 November 19, SATURDAY MORNING BIRD WALK: Highlights of Niceville, Bluewater Bay Marina, and Lake Pippen. Join leader Carole Goodyear to look for loons, ducks, shorebirds, ospreys and woodpeckers. Wear good walking shoes and bring a sack lunch, binoculars, and friends). Call Carole Goodyear 850 897 2666 for more info. Meet 7:30 AM at the Bluewater Winn Dixie under the sign, 4512 East Highway 20, Niceville.
2016 December 1, THURSDAY MONTHLY PROGRAM: Presentation “The Christmas Bird Count 2016” Learn about the oldest and largest wildlife survey in the world and how you can help. Alan Knothe, local bird count coordinator, will speak on the history of the Christmas Bird Count and the origination of our local count in Okaloosa County. You will learn how to identify rare and unusual birds and how to get involved. No birding experience is necessary. The actual count will take place on Monday, 19 December.
2016 December 3, SATURDAY MORNING FIELD TRIP to the Destin Beaches. Join Bruce Purdy at 7:30 AM for a bird-walk to the East Pass, West Jetty, and Gulf Beach. Discover gulls, terns and shorebirds with an experienced birder. Wear closed shoes & hat. Bring your camera and a friend or two. Meet at the public parking lot at the South-West end of the Marler (Destin) Bridge (east end of Okaloosa Island on south side of Hwy 98). For more info, call Bruce at 305-359-5334.
2016 December 10 AUDUBON CHRISTMAS PARTY, SATURDAY EVENING 5:00 PM at 304 Piney Creek Cove, Rocky Bayou, Niceville. RSVP by Dec. 1 - firstname.lastname@example.org Hosts: Gary & Kay Parsons 850 678 1461. Bring a covered dish to share and BYOB. Kay will provide turkey and Phyllis will provide ham. Please bring a "birdie" item for our silent auction.
2016 CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT - December 19. Alan Knothe coordinates our Audubon CBC circle in this worldwide citizen science event (all experience levels welcome). The 15-mile-diameter circle is centered 4 mi N of the Marler (Destin) Bridge over East Pass, and the circle is divided into many sections for the different parties of observers. Contact Alan 850 208 1780 to participate.
CAS Newsletter Shorelines (PDF files): Spring 2017 Winter 2016-17 Fall 2016 Spring 2016 Winter 2015-16
Some past trip reports (PDF files): 19 Nov 2016 in E Okaloosa Co 16 Apr 2016 at Veterans Park 19 Mar 2016 at 7 Pines Nursery