Find the Easter eggs in North and South Walton April 19 and 20

Freeport Arts and Craft Festival and Easter Egg Hunt April 19

eastergreetingOn Saturday, April 19 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. the Town Planters Society of Freeport will be hosting their annual arts and craft festival. The festival will be held in conjunction with the annual Car Show and Easter Egg Hunt.

The events will be held at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex in Hammock Bay located off of CR83A at 671 Hammock Trail East, Freeport.

There will be arts and craft vendors, food concessions, face painting, entertainment, silent auction, and door prizes. A portion of proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society / Relay for Life. For more information call Judy Aultman 850-835-1737 or email

Saturday, April 19:

Cluster Springs Baptist Church – 10 a.m.
Easter basket drawing, free games, story time and more. Cluster Springs Baptist Church is located at 1333 CR1084 in DeFuniak Springs.

Alys Beach – 10 a.m. – 12 Noon
Alys, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter cordially invite you to a tea party at Fonville Press. Mingle with the characters and decorate your very own hat. The event is free and open to the public but hats are limited to the first 150 young guests. A suggested donation of $5.00 will be accepted to benefit the Seaside Repertory Theatre. Don’t be late!

Sunday, April 20

Seaside Easter egg hunt will be held on the Lyceum Lawn next to the Seaside Neighborhood School. They will offer two separate egg hunts, one for ages 1-4 at 1 p.m. and for ages 5-10 at 1:30 p.m. Don’t miss out on the regions largest Easter Egg Hunt with over 15,000 candy filled eggs!

WaterColor Marina Park
9 a.m. – 12 Noon: Easter Bunny photo opportunity at the Lake house.
12:30 – 2 p.m. Easter egg hunt.

Union Springs Missionary Baptist Church – 11 a.m.
Easter program and egg hunt starting at 11 a.m. Union Springs Missionary Baptist Church is located at 416 Rail Road Ave., DeFuniak Springs.

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Choctawhatchee Audubon events for May 2014

CAScolorlogoMay 1:
Monthly Meeting and Program: “Caught on Camera: Butterflies and Moths,” MaryAnn Friedman, Butterfly Enthusiast. MaryAnn will present an amazing photographic collection of butterflies and moths with an emphasis on the many varieties of Florida Lepidoptera. Conservation issues, identification pointers, and some outstanding nearby butterfly locations will also be discussed. The meeting will be held in Room 130 on the ground floor of the Student Services Center at the Niceville campus of Northwest Florida State College, and will begin at 6:30 p.m. with socializing and light refreshments. The meeting is free and open to the interested public. For more information, call Walt Spence at 850-582-7064.


May 10:
Birding paddle: Join photo paddler and birder, Walt Spence, for a bird paddle on Niceville area bayous. Walt will demonstrate birding and photography by canoe in places where he has guided hundreds of trips for some of the region’s best bird and nature photographers. Participants must register by calling Walt at 850-582-7064. Space is limited and is available on a “first-come-first-serve” basis. There are no charges or fees, and participants must furnish their own canoes or kayaks, as well as paddles, safety equipment, and personal supplies. Those wishing to bring cameras or binoculars are advised to bring water-proof storage, such as a dry bag or large zip-lock. Meeting time will be 7 a.m., location given at registration.

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FWC sets Gulf recreational red snapper season

redsnapperSeason set for May 24 – July 14

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set the Gulf recreational red snapper season in state waters April 16 at a meeting near Tallahassee. The season will be a total of 52 days in 2014 and will start the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 24 this year) and remain open through July 14, closing July 15.

Starting the season the Saturday before Memorial Day will provide recreational red snapper fishing through an important holiday weekend, helping attract more visitors and bringing economic benefits to our coastal communities.

The federal season is currently projected to be 11 days long, starting June 1 and remaining open through June 11. This season is subject to change depending on projections by NOAA Fisheries for when the recreational red snapper quota may be caught.

Florida state waters in the Gulf are from shore to 9 nautical miles. Federal waters extend from where state waters end, out to about 200 nautical miles.

The daily bag limit will remain 2 per person in state and federal waters.

To learn more about this agenda item, visit and click on “Commission Meetings.” To learn more about recreational red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, visit and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Snapper.”

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Walton Bay, river and shoreline fishing report for April 16

pompanoFishing is good and dependent on the weather

Choctawhatchee Bay: Folks reeling in some large speckled trout, some small redfish, a few sheepshead and black drum.

Shoreline: Great reports of good size pompano being caught. One report of a 6 lb. catch. Cobia being caught, still on the small size.

River: River is high.

Click here for fishing forecast

Bay and river report brought to you by Copeland’s. “Where the locals shop and the tourists are welcome.”

Click here to find out more about Copeland’s.
Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop
17290 U.S. Hwy. 331 S
Freeport, Florida 32439
(850) 835-4277
Store hours:
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat.: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sun.: Closed

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Snake avoidance clinic for dogs at Hammock Bay April 27

snakeavoidanceThe Emerald Coast Vizsla Club is hosting a Snake Avoidance Clinic with Dr. Bud Calderwood, DVM at Hammock Bay on Sunday, April 27, 2014.

Dogs are trained to associate the smell, sound and site of a snake with a negative reinforcement. Dr. Calderwood fits the dog with an e-collar to provide negative re-enforcement. The strength of the correction is calibrated for each dog and is somewhat stiff, so expect your dog to react accordingly. Bear in mind, this training could be LIFE SAVING. The snakes used in this clinic have been rendered safe by removing their fangs and taping their mouths shut.

The clinic consists of a small course where various venomous snakes are arranged in several situations. The dog’s handler is instructed to lead the dog through the course on a leash. Dr. Calderwood’s expertise in canine and reptile behavior allows him to apply the right correction exactly at the right moment for each snake encounter. He has gained this insight through years of experience with many hundreds of dogs. The dog is then lead back through the course to gauge its reaction to subsequent snake encounters. This training is used to allow your dog to associate the sound and smell of a snake with danger and train them to avoid the situation. In our “neck of the woods” this is a very important training that may save your dog’s life.

$50 for first dog in family, $40 for any other dogs in that family, $35 to re-check a previously tested dog. Please make checks payable to ECVC. Click here to download registration form: ECVC Snake Avoidance Clinic Flyer 2014

Requirements:  This is a community service and ALL BREEDS of dogs are welcome. Dogs must be leash-trained, over 6 months old and weigh at least 20 pounds. If you have a dog that is less than 20 lbs., but over 6 months of age, you may be granted a waiver, but will need to call first for special instructions from Dr. Calderwood. Priority will be given to pre-paid entrants and to members of the ECVC. Day of event entries may be taken as space is available.


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Take a guided eco tour of Western Lake on a kayak or stand up paddle board April 28

greategretwesternlakeTime: 8:30 – 11:00 a.m.

You will travel from where the water comes in to Western Lake to where the water goes out from Western Lake to the Gulf of Mexico.  Discussion topics will include history, coastal dune lake ecology, and local anecdotes, as well as efforts to preserve the lakes and how the lakes preserve us. Your guide will be Karl Renelt.

Moderate or higher exertion level, depending on wind conditions. Participants are asked to bring forecast compatible clothing and personal comfort items (i.e. sunscreen, bug spray, etc.). Kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) rental included in the cost of the tour.

Space is limited to 8 participants. Minimum of 4. Location: Meet at The Boathouse at WaterColor, 34 Goldenrod Circle, Santa Rosa Beach.

Fee: $65 for kayak, $70 for stand-up paddleboard. Click here to register online or call 850-200-4160, Ref# 090602 – KAYAK, Ref# 090603 – STAND-UP PADDLEBOARD. Have your credit card ready.

Event subject to cancellation. In the case of inclement weather, registrants will be notified by email or phone the afternoon/evening prior, and fees will be fully refunded.

Hosted by Choctawhathcee Basin Alliance, Discover Roads Less Traveled eco-tours will introduce you to some of these very special places. Click here to learn about various upcoming events.


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Choctawhatchee Estuary Family Festival in Niceville April 26

estuaryThe Seventh Annual Choctawhatchee Estuary Family Festival, a free family and community event for all ages, will be held Saturday, April 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park, located at 4281 Highway 20 East in Niceville.

There is no park entrance fee for the festival which offers fun activities, hand-on displays and environmental awareness. The event is hosted by the Mattie M. Kelly Cultural & Environmental Institute at Northwest Florida State College, with support from the Friends of the Emerald Coast State Parks.

The Choctawhatchee Estuary Family Festival features activities for the whole family including fish printing on t-shirts, operating an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), explore the deep ocean and learn about critters that glow-in-the-dark, learn how to paddle board or take a kayak tour in the bayou, view wildlife displays, learn about our local environment and more.

The event will also include displays by the Okaloosa County Health Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, Audubon Society, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and others.

All activities and entertainment are free of charge! No need to RSVP- just be prepared to have a great time!

Families are encouraged to pack a picnic lunch and come learn about the local waters of our estuary and the people living and working there. For more information on the festival, contact the Mattie M. Kelly Cultural & Environmental Institute at 850-729-6469.

For more information:

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Mother opposum wreaks havoc at Freeport home

Opossum in Freeport garbage can with offspring. Photo courtesy Dan Baker

Opossum with her offspring sleeping in Freeport garbage can. Photo courtesy Dan Baker

Dan Baker of Freeport sent us a story about an unusual event at his home in Freeport April 14. We’ll let Dan tell the story:

“Yesterday evening around 9:00 P.M. windows open, fresh air and pure bliss was over me while watching the reruns of the Masters Invitational when suddenly our cats, Percy and Mini and the adorable dog Bella stirred in a panic after a quiet evening.  They all wanted out of this house barking howling, screaming, squalling and scratching at the door. There was no quieting them.  This kind of had me shook. I usually do not spook at anything. I stepped outside while shoving my way past the inside critters,  heard nothing, saw nothing to be alarmed about except a Whippoorwill in the distance. The inside pets by this time (12:30 A.M.) had be running all over the house. Bella was up and down on the bed, baying at the window or front door. By the way “Bella” is a full sized Yorky and she thinks she is a Rottweiler.  No sleep for me or them last night.

Seems the “Miracle of Birth” can happen anywhere. When I when out to deposit a bag in the garbage  can I took a double look. Mrs. O’Possum had delivered her litter of babies  (kittens or cubs or whatever) in my garbage can. Mother Possum could not be stirred. She seemed very content nursing her new arrival’s. I daringly crept up on the can with camera in hand got a couple of photos for proof.  Mom Possum did not stir…But now what do I do?

I have imagined trying to help extract the family from my garbage can but the picture in my mind of a pissed off Mother Possum trying to kill me just does not set right in my mind.”

Side note: Deb Edwards from Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge informed us these babies are not newborns, as newborn opossums are the size of a lima bean. When born, they transfer to the mother’s pouch for nursing and growth. Once they reach a larger size, the offspring attach to the mother’s back until large enough to head out on their own. We are not sure what the circumstances are, however hope mom and her babies are headed back to the woods soon.

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Take a guided canoe/kayak tour of Campbell Lake at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park April 24

topsailcanoeskayaksTime: 1 p.m.

Campbell Lake is one of the most pristine coastal dune lakes in South Walton. This tour is an opportunity to experience it up-close. Participants will meet at Tram Stop One in the parking area behind the ranger station at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and ride down to the Campbell Lake recreation area. After a brief safety discussion, participants will launch canoes and kayaks and tour the lake by following the shoreline. Along the way, the park service specialist will talk about all the aspects that make these lakes so special and visit some of the most beautiful areas in the park. This is a “behind the scenes” tour of a coastal dune lake.

Be sure to bring your binoculars and a camera as well as water and a snack. Shoes are required as we may leave the water and explore on foot in a few places. All canoes, kayaks, paddles, and floatation devices will be provided. This trip will require several hours of paddling and a little bit of hiking. There is space for three younger-aged children to sit in the canoes, but all other participants must be able to paddle a canoe or kayak. Event subject to cancellation due to high winds or inclement weather.

Space is limited to 11 participants, plus an additional 3 non-paddling children, minimum of 4.

Location: Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, 7525 W Scenic Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach Meet at Tram Stop One in the parking area behind the ranger station. ::MAP::

Fee: $30 + a $6.00 entry admission per vehicle into the park.  Call to register 850-200-4160 and reference # 090581.

This event is brought to you by Choctawhathcee Basin Alliance, Discover Roads Less Traveled eco-tours. Click here to learn about various upcoming events.CBAecoadventures

Event subject to cancellation. In the case of inclement weather, registrants will be notified by email or phone the afternoon/evening prior, and fees will be fully refunded.

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Enjoy a canoe tour of Western Lake channel and outfall at Grayton Beach State Park April 30

greategretwesternlakeOn Wednesday, April 30 from 9 – 11 a.m. enjoy a canoe tour of Western Lake channel and outfall.  A Grayton Beach State Park specialist will lead you on an exciting trip on Western Lake discussing the importance and rarity of coastal dune lakes and what animal/birds call the lakes home.

Please sign-up at the ranger station prior to the day of the event. Event is open to the first 9 guests to sign-up at the ranger station. Participants that sign-up should meet at the boat ramp parking/canoe launch area. This tour will take 1-2 hours. Sunscreen and drinking water are suggested items to bring. Anyone wishing to bring their own kayak or canoe may do for this program.

Admission is $5.00 per vehicle.

Grayton Beach State Park is located at 357 Main Park Rd., Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. For more information, call: (850) 267-8300


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