Monday, October 24, 2011

Heritage Festival

Immediately following the trip to DeSoto State Park in Alabama, I spent a week camping in Blackwater State Forest in preparations for the Heritage Festival.  I'd never stayed in that particular campground before but I really liked it.  In fact, I like it much better than the one we normally stay in.

My Birdlady friend came up and spent part of the week with me.  We spent two long days covering sections of the forest for our survey.  The wildflowers are in full bloom. 

None of these pictures do them justice, of course, but they are beautiful. 

At our campground, I was visited almost daily by pileated woodpeckers. 
We also had the resident gray squirrels.  This one quickly found a few seeds that had fallen on the table when I filled a bird feeder.
I think the most exciting thing that happened all week was that I got to see Eastern screech owls live in the wild!!!   I've seen them once in captivity before.  We were sitting inside reading one night and the windows were open, of course.  Suddenly, I catch this faint call and quickly turned my head.  Birdlady wondered what happened and I told her.  

So, we gathered out flashlight and the recorded bird calls and went outside.  She told me ahead of time what to expect as we stood quietly in the dark.  She turned on the recording for just a few seconds and heard nothing at first.  Then there was a slight rustle in the leaves overhead.  She turned on the flashlight and there on a limb not six feet over my head was a gorgeous little red screech owl!!   His eyes were big and golden and he was turning every which way trying to see us.  After a minute, he flew over to another branch and there was a scuffling sound.  When we aimed the light in that direction, we discovered another one!!!!  This one was mottled brown and gray but just as gorgeous as the other one.   I got really good looks at both of them and I don't think I'll ever forget those eyes.   These guys are little - only about 8 inches tall.  Had the first one not bumped a leaf while landing on the limb, we never would have known they were there.  They make absolutely NO sound when flying.  I was listening closely and anticipating, but didn't hear a thing until that leaf rustled.   No pictures, needless to say, except those etched on my brain.

Over the weekend, the Heritage Festival was held in the park where we were camped.  One circle held heritage crafts and exhibits and the other was general exhibits.  Our Audubon booth was across the little road from the Florida Wildlife Commission's huge exhibit, so we were in a good place.  As an exhibitor, we were allowed to camp  on premises and set up our display in front of our site.  We had a great opportunity to share our knowledge of the birds in the forest with the local residents.  Of course, they also shared their knowledge with us.  Some of these folks live on private inholdings totally surrounded by the forest and they can be very knowledgeable about the animals and birds there.  

We shared our space with quilters, and since I'm a quilter, too, I was pleased to have them join us. 
There was an excellent turnout on Saturday, but not so many on Sunday. 

Fall is one of the best times to live in this area. 

Y'all take care.  


  1. Florida Farm Girl - I love having you on my blogroll.. we're pretty darn close to one another, I see! (A few hours..) We just had a huge quilt festival and believe there's a Folk Culture fest next month (before Thanksgiving). Yours looks great, love the post and photos.

    Suburban Townhouse, Country Cottage

  2. How cool to see the screech owls! Amazing how quiet they are.