October is a busy month for wildlife and wildlife enthusiasts. Cold fronts sweep across the country, each bringing another wave of migrating birds. Fall migrant songbirds, their winter homes in the tropics, peak early in the month. With this peak comes the first of familiar winter visitors like House Wrens, Eastern Phoebes, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. With each successive front we see more winter visitors and less fall travelers until the symbolic end of fall migration, the arrival of the dreaded Yellow-rumped Warblers, occurs near the end of the month.
Peregrine Falcons traveling from points all over Canada and the U.S. can be seen along our beaches or wherever small to medium-sized birds, their favorite food, gather in numbers. The Florida Keys Hawkwatch at Curry Hammocks State Park is the best place in the world to observe Peregrine Falcons. It was there, on October 10, 2015, that a new world record for number of Peregrine Falcons observed in a day was set when 1506 falcons passed by the hawk watch.
October is also a great month for festivals. As I write this, Dee and I are between the Wings and Wildflowers Festival and the Indian River Birding Festival. Wings and Wildflowers is one of our favorites. We had a great time again this year seeing old friends and making new ones. We introduced several folks to birding at Venetian Gardens Park in Leesburg. Dee kept folks entertained with her unscientific approach to birding. On a field trip to Ocala National Forest to find the elusive Red-cockaded Woodpecker, we were treated to a rare daytime sighting of a normally nocturnal Southern Flying-Squirrel. Thanks to all those who attended and we hope to see you back there or at other festivals in the future.
This Friday we will kick off the Indian River Birding Festival with an Owl Prowl at the Environmental Learning Center. The festival features many trips and talks led by local experts to Indian River County’s best birding spots. In addition to leading an Introduction to Birding class, Dee and I will be leading trips to Fellsmere Grade Recreation Area, Jungle Trail, and others. Visit the complete festival schedule here http://www.firstrefuge.org