I can not believe it. The 5th Annual Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival is now history. There is a quote that I keep on my wall by Alfred Sloan “The greatest real thrill that life offers is to create, to construct, to develop something useful.”
For four days, October 11-14, I watched this birding & nature festival proceed. This was the creation of a faithful volunteer committee who spent long hours the last year creating the different parts of this festival. These events included field trips headed up by Georgia Ornithological Society, seminars & workshops headed up by Regi Sonnen, The Rookery exhibit area, evening banquet with special featured speaker Dr John Fitzpatrick headed up by Lydia Thompson & Harriet Roberson, the Colonial Coast Birding Challenge Competition headed up by Sheila Willis, and first time this year a successful family Nature Day on Saturday headed up by Marge Inness. Special committees were registration headed up by Dot Bambach, treasurer Gene Keferl, publicity headed up by Beth Roth, magazine ads and special printing headed up by Pat Metz and recording secretary Harriet Roberson. Eric Garvey, Beth Burnsed and the JIA marketing team helped in a variety of ways including provide prize money for the birding challenge, specialty signs, and an eye-catching billboard. These committees work very hard sharing & exchanging ideas. We helped each other create the four day festival. What was the reward for this hard work? It was all the festival events were very well attended. There were quite a few events that sold out during the festival's pre-registration period.
Of course we could not control the weather. But it seemed the weather had been listening in on all our meetings. It gave us the best it could offer. We started off with a double cold front which brought the birds down to us. We had some impressive flights of falcons, hawks and eagles. The Andrew’s Island Field Trip group was stunned by the hunting abilities of a Peregrine Falcon. It made several passes over the large group of shorebirds. The birds would fly up and the falcon made it’s pick for lunch out group. Shorebirds were the high light of several field trips. There were some summer birds still around like both male and female Painted Buntings. There were winter birds coming in for the first time this season for example Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Savannah Sparrows. There were amazing migrants like the Caribbean Cave Swallow and Wilson’s Warbler. The rarest bird found was at the banding station where a MacGillivray’s Warbler was banded. This is only the second confirmed record of this western warbler in the state of Georgia.
This year’s newest addition was Nature Day on Saturday. It was a huge success. Children came from all along the coast to join in the fun. An example is a Brownie troop from Fernandina Beach with several leaders that came and spent the day. Here are a few of the activities in which they participated:
1. Beginning bird watching which included using binoculars and scope,
2. Reading wildlife signs which included making a plaster cast of an animal track
3. Shark Identification which included a study of a live shark at Tidelands Nature Center
4. Care of sick and injured turtles which included a study of Dylan the sea turtle at The Georgia Turtle Center
5. Raptor Show which included a study of live bird of prey present Raptor Center of Georgia Southern University
It was a full day for all the children. Each child was given a passport which was stamped during the activities they attended and at the end of the day was redeemed for the Nature Day patch. Overall it was one of the most thrilling four days of my life. Thanks to the many folks who worked tirelessly to pull the 5th Annual Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival together.