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Have Audubon Card, Will Feast!
By Jim Meyer
What a great start to our Memorial Day Weekend in Inverness when we joined the Hernando Audubon Society at Townsend Lake County Park for a potluck dinner. Eileen had checked the websites of the local Audubon groups and discovered Hernando was having a birdwalk and a potluck on the afternoon of our arrival. We called Andy Maywalt, the Chapter contact, and he extended a cordial invitation and suggested we bring bread which told me they must be going to have alot of good food which they did.
Upon arrival at the Park, VP Mary Dowdell, gave us a big welcome and really made us feel comfortable. She said Andy had contacted her and told her they were going to have visitors all the way from the Spacecoast. As I was to find out later, another one of our members, Vicky, Hamilton, made a good impression on some of their members at the Chinsecut Nature Center last winter. After 'mingling and meeting', we headed to the Withlacoochee River which was about a 3 block walk thru the woods and across the Withlacoochee Bike Trail. On the way, we picked up Tufted Titmouse, C. Wren, and Yellow-throated and Parula Warblers. While walking out on the boardwalk, a Green Heron was seen flying low over the river soon to be upstaged by a Limpkin looking for apple snails. Then, we had the spotting of the walk and week, 17 Wood Ducks having a convention on a partially submerged log on our side of the river. We also had two Whistling Ducks flying down the river.
Someone mentioned they brought BBQ and the birding came to a halt, and we headed back to the Park Pavilian where James had volunteered to protect the food from the local critters. The potluck was fantastic with BBQ beef, home raised baked chicken and deviled eggs, Ham with many vegetables and salad dishes. The desserts actually equaled the main course with fresh blackberry cobbler and blueberry squares, cookies, pies, and cake also.
After consuming most of the above, Eileen and I decided we needed another walk. Several Wood Ducks were still on the log but the close encounter with the Barred Owl was real treat. We also got a Pileated Woodpecker and Sandhill Cranes. Before the evening was over Eileen got an invitation to join the local Butterfly monitoring activities this summer and I got an invitation to join in on two Christmas bird counts.
The next morning found us scanning for Wood Ducks again but in an 80% dead oak tree in Eileen's backyard adjacent to a canal. Late last April, we had a fly-in almost every morning at daybreak but not so this visit. However, we observed 12 species in the tree this trip-Carolina Wren, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, White Ibis, Great Egret, Woodstork, and a beautiful pair of House Finchs. We also picked up 10 other species on the property including Limpkin, Bluebirds, Indigo Bunting, and a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers.
So, the message is, not only is Audubon great on the local scale but when you travel it's a great way to get a fantastic dinner and meet the local birders wherever you travel.