Make us your home page
Instagram

Birding festival features noted birder Greg Miller

Red-bellied woodpeckers are common along the Chinsegut Conservation Center trail.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times (2013)

Red-bellied woodpeckers are common along the Chinsegut Conservation Center trail.

Winter in Florida is well-known for attracting "snowbirds" — human visitors drawn to the state's warmth and sunshine. But, of course, there are also the original snowbirds — hundreds of migratory species that take up temporary residence to escape the cold.

This makes March the ideal time to grab a pair of binoculars and a bird book to spy the various species as they make their way northward. It's also a perfect time for the second annual Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.

The annual event, which includes a festival Saturday at the Chinsegut Nature Center in northern Brooksville, has grown to include field trips and programs throughout Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties running Thursday through Sunday.

"Florida is very unique," said Andy Wraithmell, wildlife information specialist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Winter (in Florida) has more species of birds than at any other time of the year."

Wraithmell has coordinated more than two dozen field trips, including searching for specific migratory birds, such as black rails or swallow-tailed kites, checking Citrus County hot spots for numerous bird species, looking for nuthatches and sparrows, and kayaking on the Chassahowitzka.

The trips are led by numerous experts, including four with noted birder Greg Miller, who is "one of the most famous birders in the world," said Joe Murphy, FWC regional volunteer coordinator. "It's a really exciting opportunity."

Murphy said there has been excellent feedback about the field trips. Many more have been added this year, including outings led by experts from Audubon groups in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus. He also said trips led by Wraithmell are not to be missed, as "he is one of the most amazing birders I've ever met."

Despite the additional trips, they were 65 percent full by the end of last week. And whereas last year's event drew about 160 participants, this year already more than 255 have signed up.

The festival also features three keynote speakers.

On Thursday, author and Tampa Bay Times columnist Jeff Klinkenberg will share his Florida explorations, as well as sign copies of his newest book, Alligators in B-Flat.

On Friday, biologist Mark Kiser will discuss Florida's bats and then lead participants to watch as Brazilian free-tailed bats leave their roost on the grounds at the nature center.

The highlight of the weekend will be an appearance by Greg Miller Saturday at the Palace Grand in Spring Hill where he will discuss his birding experiences. In 1998 he traveled 130,000 miles throughout the continent to view more than 700 species. It was documented in the 2004 book The Big Year, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Mark Obmascik, and later made into a movie.

Those who have never been birding or are new to the hobby are encouraged to participate in the Wings Over Florida program that Wraithmell will present Friday. It teaches the skills needed to identify birds and encourages exploration.

Although the class is expected to fill up, Murphy said it will be offered again in Brooksville in the next several months.

Murphy also encourages families to take full advantage of Saturday's daytime events at the nature center. "Mystery of the Sandhill" allows children to become wildlife investigators, putting clues together to solve the mystery. Some of the activities include detecting animal signs and tracks and dissecting owl pellets. Visitors can also meet wildlife biologists, watch a prescribed fire demonstration and see live reptiles and amphibians.

"It's a great time for families," Murphy said of the purpose of the festival, "connecting the public with nature and the idea of conservation, how valuable these species are, and how valuable it is to protect them here in the Nature Coast."

Phyllis Day can be reached at pday@tampabay.com.

. If you go

Birding and Wildlife Festival

The annual event runs Thursday through Sunday with field trips and other events. The Wildlife Festival itself is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Chinsegut Conservation Center, 23212 Lake Lindsey Road, north of Brooksville. Admission is $5; free for ages 16 and younger. Call the center at (352) 754-6722.

Scheduled talks (limited seating): Jeff Klinkenberg, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express Spring Hill, 3528 Commercial Way, Spring Hill; $15. Mark Kiser, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, at Chinsegut; $5. Greg Miller, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Palace Grand; $45, includes dinner.

There is a cost for some field trips. All have limited space and require preregistration. For registration and a list of available field trips and workshops, visit naturecoastbirdingfestival.com.

Birding festival features noted birder Greg Miller 03/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 1:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador

    Blogs

    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]