Choctawhatchee Audubon programs and events for December 2014

CAScolorlogoDecember 4: Monthly Meeting and Program: Pictorial Survey of Birds that are Rare or Difficult to Identify during the Christmas Bird Count by Alan Knothe, biologist.  The Christmas Bird Count is an internationally recognized survey monitoring the population of birds.  Alan, a noted local birding expert, will explain the key identification features for rare or unusual sightings using high quality digital photography. The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the new Student Services Building at Northwest Fla. State College. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM, and the program begins at 7:00. Admission is free and open to the interested public. Call Walt Spence at 850-582-7461 for more info.

December 13: Annual Members Christmas Party will be held at the home of Kay and Gary Parsons in Niceville. There will be a silent auction with birding themed items and a covered dish dinner, BYOB. To make reservations and get directions, call Gary or Kay at 678-1461.

December 15: Christmas Bird Count. Join in the nation’s largest citizen science project. Have positions available for spotters and recorders. No experience is necessary, but be prepared to start early on this day-long event.  Call Alan Knothe for more information at 850-208-1780.

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Historic Wesley house at Eden Gardens State Park decorated for the holidays, Candlelight Tour Dec. 20

Each room of the Wesley house is elaborately decorated for the holidays. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Each room of the Wesley house is elaborately decorated for the holidays. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Holiday spirit brings good cheer to Wesley house

Eden Gardens State Park and the Friends of Eden invite you to join them for a tour of the Wesley House through the holidays. All of the rooms of the historic home have been decorated with Christmas cheer in a variety of different themes by local organizations.

Tours of the Wesley House are Thursday – Monday from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m., every hour on the hour. The Christmas decorations will be up through Dec. 31. The rest of the park is open 7 days a week.

On Dec. 20, from 5 – 8 p.m., enjoy the Candlelight Tour, with a traditional walk through the luminaries to the Historic Wesley House to enjoy it’s beautifully seasonally decorated rooms. After the tour, the Friends of Eden will be providing refreshments in the pavilion. It’s an evening meant to be enjoyed by all who attend. Donations to the Friends of Eden Gardens are welcome and appreciated.  Admission fees to the park and the event are waived.
 Contact: (850) 267-8320. ::MAP::

Several organizations and groups decorated the rooms of the Wesley House with a specific theme.

Sunporch:  ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance. Their room will be appropriately themed as a “Wooded Wonderland” bringing elements of the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

Dining Room: The Church Support Circle of Point Washington United Methodist Church ladies “Dreaming of a White Christmas” of elegant dining at Eden.

Library:  The Historic Point Washington Association have enjoyed decorating at the Wesley Mansion for the last 7 years.  This year’s theme is “ A Victorian Christmas Tea in the Library.”

Parlor:  Green Thumb Garden Club’s theme this year is “A Garden Party Christmas.”
Downstairs Entry and Stairway:  The Heritage Center of Freeport – “Candy Cane Lane”  is this year’s festive theme to greet you when you come into the Wesley House.

Upstairs Landing:  Path of Grace has the theme of “Candy Land.”

The Upstairs Sitting Room:  “Frozen in Time” is this year’s theme for the blue sitting room, making beautiful use of the blue, crystals and an icy theme from the Durbin family and friends.

Details of one of the Valley Crest tree. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Details of the Valley Crest tree. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Details of one of the decorated trees. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Blue Bedroom: Ali Weil of Nest30A provided a “Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Wesleys”  theme.

The Children’s Bedroom: South Walton Montessori Academy theme is “A Children’s Victorian Christmas.” All decorations are hand made by the lower elementary students aged 6 to 9.

Red Bedroom:  Beth Barron of Designer for a Day pays homage to her Mississippi roots with “Magnolias and Pearls.”

Pink Bedroom: Birchberry  Natural Home Spa’s theme – “A Child’s Christmas Dream.”

The Friends of Eden decorate the outside of the Wesley house and also the inside and outside of the Pavilion. Jim Foley and his “Merry Men and Women” will be placing the illuminations again this year for the Candlelight Open House on December 20th from 5 – 9 p.m.

About Eden Gardens State Park
One of the most beautiful parks in Walton County sits along Tucker Bayou in Point Washington in South Walton. Large moss covered live oaks, gardens, walking trails and panoramic views of the bayou provide a visual delight for the visitor to this dynamic and historic State Park.

The focal point of the park is the two-story Wesley house with large white columns and wrap-around porch. Originally owned by the Wesley’s a wealthy Florida timber family, the mansion was purchased in 1963 by Lois Maxon who renovated the home, and created a showplace for family heirlooms and antiques. The collection of Louis XVI furniture is the second largest in the United States. The house is now owned by the State of Florida, and is the centerpiece of the park.

Hours of Operation
The park is open 7 days a week. Guided tours of the Wesley house are available hourly Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (including holidays)

Eden Gardens State Park is located in Point Washington, off U.S. 98 on C.R. 395.
For more information, call (850) 267-8320.
181 Eden Garden Road, Point Washington, Fl. 32459

The parks website is
Park Fees
$4.00 per vehicle
$2.00 for Bikes and Peds
$4.00 per adult house tour, children free

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DeFuniak Springs Christmas parade Dec. 13

DFSxmasparadeFolks from around DeFuniak Springs will be lining up along Circle Drive to enjoy the annual DeFuniak Springs Christmas Parade on Dec. 13, 2014. The parade is open to everyone who wishes to participate. Individuals, churches, businesses and clubs are welcome. There is no registration fee, however, donations are accepted. Registration is required and pre-registration is highly recommended. Late entries may also register on the day of the parade at the intersection of Park Avenue and Hubbard. Entrants are encouraged to participate on foot, bicycle, horseback, vintage car or float. Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded. Those who want to be judged at the parade must be in their formation area and ready by 11:15am. Participants are asked to decorate all entries with a Christmas Holiday theme.

This year a few changes in the formation guidelines will be in place due to the construction around the middle school. Basically, instead of lining up at the middle school, we will be using Park Avenue as designated by the DFS Police Department. The parade will still follow its normal route which is down Hubbard around the circle and returning to Hubbard.

There will be no rain date for the parade.

To receive a registration and parade information packet, please call Cate Campbell at 850-368-8953. You may also email your request to

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Walton county fishing report for Nov. 19

specktrout23Fishing is good!

Choctawhatchee Bay area: Flounder bite winding down. Trout and red bite still on with light colored Gulf shrimp, 1/4 oz. jig heads, and tiny flukes.

Mann’s Bait will be hosting a trout and bass seminar at Copeland’s Gun and Tackle on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 9 a.m.

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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South Walton Fire District hosting Elf Ride Dec. 7

elfrideThe South Walton Fire District (SWFD) will be hosting their 7th Annual Elf Ride on Dec. 7th, 2014. Elves of all ages will meet at the Seaside Post Office at 1 p.m. and bicycle/walk to SWFD’s Water Color Station located at 2109 CR 395 South, Seagrove (approx. 1.5 miles).

Please bring an unwrapped toy to benefit the SWFD Angel Tree. Refreshments and a tour of the fire station as well as the fire trucks will be on hand. Wear your Santa or elf hat and decorate your bike! Parent(s) must accompany all children.

In case of inclement weather, toys may be dropped off at the Water Color Station on Dec. 7. For more information contact Robbie Lund at or Luke Thompson at

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E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center hosting a Winter Wonderland Dec. 6

winterwonderland6E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center is hosting a Winter Wonderland Event ​on Saturday, December 6, ​from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Activities will include a live penguin show at 11:00 & 11:45, holiday themed photo-booth, gingerbread house decorating, Florida snow machine, games, story time,  children’s crafts, plus an appearance by Santa at 1:00 p.m.

The event is sponsored in part by Lord and Sons Construction and The Silver Mine Inc.  ​General admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children. Children two and under free. Please visit to learn more about this non-profit educational center or call 835-1824.

E.O.Wilson Biophilia Center

4956 State Hwy 20 East

Freeport, Florida 32439

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Ice skating offered at Village of Baytowne Wharf through Feb. 2

iceskatingFor those visitors who miss the cold and ice, the ice skating rink at The Village of Baytowne Wharf is the perfect opportunity to get into the winter spirit. The seasonal ice skating rink has become a local holiday favorite. For $11* guests can skate for an hour and a half. Skate rental is available for $2*.

The first hour of each day is reserved for “kids skate” for youths 12 and under.

2013-2014 Ice Rink Hours of Operation

Times are subject to change. Stop by The Village of Baytowne Wharf’s Facebook Page for unscheduled closures of Baytowne on Ice. The Village of Baytowne Wharf’s Facebook


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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announces Gulf restoration projects, Walton to receive more than $3 million for coastal dune lakes

campcreekdunesmCoastal dune lake project to remove invasive species and use fire management to restore wetland habitat and increase freshwater flows

On Nov. 17, 2014, Governor Rick Scott and The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced the funding of $34.3 million for nine Florida projects that address high priority conservation needs. The projects, developed in consultation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and federal resource agencies, are designed to remedy harm or reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Governor Scott said, “This $34.3 million in funding is great news for families in the Panhandle. Florida’s natural treasures must be protected so that future generations will be able to experience all that our great state has to offer.”

The money is the second obligation from NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, created 18 months ago as part of the settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP and Transocean to resolve certain criminal charges against both companies in relation to the spill. Under the allocation formula and other provisions contained in the plea agreements, a total of $356 million will be paid into the Gulf Fund over a five year period for conservation projects in the state of Florida.

“The model for the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund is one of partnership,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “In order to succeed, NFWF must bring together state resource agencies, federal agencies, and other public and private partners, all working in harmony to fund the best projects that will do the most good for the Gulf of Mexico and the communities that depend on it each and every day. The projects we announce today demonstrate the value of our efforts to work in a collaborative fashion to select projects that will provide significant benefits to wildlife and people for many years to come.”

In early 2013, a U.S. District Court approved two plea agreements resolving certain criminal charges against BP and Transocean related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Provisions within the plea agreements direct a total of $2.544 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation over a five-year period. The funds are to be used to support projects that remedy harm or reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the oil spill.

Florida’s 2014 Projects

Please click on the project title for more specific information:

Restoration and Management of Escribano Point Coastal Habitat – Phase II

Enhanced Assessment for Recovery of Gulf of Mexico Fisheries – Phase II

Florida Shorebird Conservation Initiative

Benthic Habitat Mapping, Characterization and Assessment

Oyster Reef Habitat Restoration in the Saint Andrew Bay

Restoration of Florida’s Coastal Dune Lakes

Bayou Chico Restoration

Destin Harbor, Joe’s Bayou, and Indian Bayou Water Quality Improvement

Boggy Bayou Watershed Water Quality Improvement

To learn more about Gulf Coast restoration in the state of Florida, please visit

To learn more about NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund in Florida, click here.

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Enjoy Christmas Reflections along the Lakeyard in DeFuniak Springs Nov. 28 – Dec. 31

Celebrate the season of lights along the lake

Location: Circle Drive, DeFuniak Springs
Time: 5 – 9 p.m. nightly Nov. 28 – Dec. 31

Enjoy a holiday family tradition in DeFuniak Springs as the Lakeyard lights up with the annual Christmas Reflections displays. A variety of Victorian, animal and toy soldier cutouts, Santa’s workshop, the grandfather clock ticking away; and the real reason for the season, the Nativity Scene surrounded by twinkling trees. More than 3 million lights reflect on to the lake glowing in holiday splendor.

Admission is $3 per person, children under 6 free. A season pass is available for $35 and is good for a vehicle with up to 6 people. Horse drawn carriage rides are available starting Nov. 1 for an additional fee.

Christmas Reflections is hosted annually by a group of community volunteers. For more information, contact DeFuniak Springs city hall at 850-892-8500.

Directions: From U.S. Hwy 90 West turn right onto U.S. Hwy. 331 South. Turn left at the light on Live Oak Ave.; follow to the entrance of Christmas Reflections. From U.S. Hwy 90 East, turn left at the Red Light onto U.S. Hwy. 331 South. Turn left at red light (at the top of the hill) on Live Oak Ave.; follow to the entrance of Christmas Reflections. From south of DeFuniak, take U.S. Hwy. 331 north into DeFuniak, turn right onto Live Oak Ave.


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Polar Express headed for DeFuniak Springs Nov. 28

polarexpThe Polar Express, a 2004 computer animated musical Christmas fantasy will be shown on Friday evening, November 28, 2014, at 7 PM on Baldwin Avenue between Seventh and Eighth Streets in downtown DeFuniak Springs.

Family Movie Night is a feature of the DeFuniak Springs Special Events Committee and is provided free of charge. This event is also sponsored by Monarch Aviation. The film will be shown outdoors on the street so patrons should bring blankets and chairs for their comfort.

“Kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas just like the movie characters,” stated Debby Richards who heads up this project for the committee. “This is such a great family film with a G rating and we want everyone to get into the early Christmas spirit by joining us on the Polar Express!”

The film is provided free of charge and everyone – young and old – is encouraged t come out and “get on board!” Concessions will be available and families are reminded that Christmas Reflections opens at 5 p.m. on the same evening so you may want to make it a full family evening.

Santa Claus is scheduling a pre-flight check-in at the DeFuniak Springs Opinion Place on Baldwin Avenue at Eighth Street before the movie from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

For further details, call the DeFuniak Springs city hall at 850-892-8500.

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