Hunter safety courses offered in August, September

fwclogo2007The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering free hunter safety courses in six counties in August and September. (List follows).

Students who have taken the online course and wish to complete the classroom portion must bring the online-completion report with them. Traditional course students must complete the entire course in person.

All firearms, ammunition and materials are provided free of charge. Students should bring a pen or pencil and paper. An adult must accompany children younger than 16 at all times.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces.

The locations and times are:

Online Completion Courses
Aug. 24 (6 to 10 p.m.) & Aug. 27 (7 to 10 a.m.)
Jay Community Center,
5259 Booker Lane in Jay

Escambia County
Aug. 23 (6 to 10 p.m.) & Aug. 27 (7 to 10 a.m.)
Molino Community Center,
6450 Highway 95A N. in Molino

Gadsden County
Sept. 3 (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Talon Range,
550 Commerce Blvd. in Midway

Jackson County
Sept. 10 (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Lily Pad Ranch and Hunt Club,
2224 Kent Cemetery Road in Alford

Liberty County
Aug. 27 (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) OR
Sept. 10 (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Woodmen of the World Camp,
22459 NE Woodman of the World Road in Hosford

Traditional Course (must complete all days)

Walton County
Sept. 10 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) & Sept. 11 (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Walton County Sportsman Association Inc.,
955 Smith Road in DeFuniak Springs

Those interested in attending a course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s regional office in Panama City at 850-265-3676.

 

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Giant barred owl decoy takes up residence on Clyde B. Wells Bridge

A giant owl decoy helps save roosting birds demise on the 331 bridge. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

A giant owl decoy helps save roosting birds demise on the 331 bridge. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Whooo is that owl and what is he doing on the bridge?

In mid-July Freeport resident Marilue Maris noticed something horrifying while driving over the Clyde B. Wells Bridge. Dozens of dead starlings were scatted across the northern span of the bridge. Worried, Maris reached out to Florida Audubon, Walton County Public Works, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). FDOT took action and installed an owl decoy to help mitigate the precarious situation for the starlings.

Tanya Sanders Branton, public information specialist for FDOT explains –

In mid-July 2016 flocks of birds were noted roosting in large numbers on the existing Clyde B. Wells Bridge. The birds were primarily observed near where the existing bridge and the newly constructed bridge are closest together and of similar same height.

The birds were observed each morning at sunrise flying from the barrier wall across the travel lanes of the new bridge. Many were meeting their demise colliding with rush hour traffic.

Construction team members and district environmental personnel consulted regarding potential solutions. It was learned that the department has encountered similar problems with birds in other areas of the state. However, the mitigation measures used were designed for larger species, such as pelicans. While these measures have been effective for larger birds, they were deemed infeasible for the smaller birds at this location.

The contractor was initially asked to place a fabric drape over the barrier wall, in hopes that it would deter the birds from roosting so close to the new bridge and live travel lanes. This technique was unsuccessful and the early morning collisions continued.

Next, the team researched methods used to protect vegetable gardens from small birds. It was learned that placing decoy predators, such as owls, near gardens has been an effective, low-cost, low-tech measure.

A decoy was purchased at a local home and garden store and placed on the barrier wall of the Clyde B. Wells Bridge. Project personnel continued observing the location daily and noticed two things: (1) fewer birds roosted near the decoy; and, (2) moving the birds farther away from the new bridge resulted in fewer collisions with rush hour traffic.

“The birds still roost on the bridge,” reports project engineer Fred Brown, “but the predator decoy standing guard appears to have moved them further from the new bridge. Now when they fly at sunrise, they’re far enough from live traffic that they can gain enough altitude to fly above the danger.”

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Fall gardening workshop in DeFuniak Springs Aug. 30

Fall GardeningFall is a great time to grow cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and collards. The University of Florida Extension Service is offering an educational program to help those interested in fall gardening. It will be held at the Defuniak Springs Public Library at 3 Circle Drive on August 30th from 1- 3 p.m. Topics covered will include garden planning and preparation, hydroponics, planting, vegetable varieties suited for growing conditions in north Florida, diseases and pest control, harvesting, and nutrition and cooking.

For more information or to register, please contact the Walton County Extension Office at (850) 892-8172 or the Agriculture Agent Evan Anderson at [email protected]. Free.

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Choctawhatchee Audubon Society activities for September 2016

CAScolorlogoSept. 1: Monthly Meeting: Presentation: Sex in the Sitta (Genus: nuthatches):  the Complex Social World of the Brown-headed Nuthatch. By Jim Cox, Director Stoddard Bird Lab at Tall Timbers Research Station. There is a ton of intriguing biology wrapped up in the diminutive Brown-headed Nuthatch.  The nuthatch is one of three bird species found only in southern pinelands.  The treetop antics and rubber ducky calls make these inquisitive birds a pleasure to watch, but population declines coupled with interesting behaviors call for closer scientific attention. Like Florida Scrub-jays and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, adult nuthatches often forego the chance to breed and instead help other adults raise young. Unlike woodpeckers and jays, cooperative breeding among nuthatches frequently includes assistance provided to adults that are not close relatives. This creates complex social arrangements with many intriguing twists and turns.

The meeting will be held in room 130 of the student services building 400 at the Northwest Florida State College Niceville campus. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM and the program at 7:00 PM. Admission is free and open to the public. Call or e-mail Dr Don Baltz at 255 252-2760, [email protected] for more information

Sept. 17: Birdwalk. Visit the holding ponds at the Okaloosa County Waste Water Treatment Facility and FWB Landfill. Meet with Lenny Fenimore, nationally recognized birder, at Pepitos 1313 Lewis Turner Blvd at 7:30 AM Saturday the 17th of September and travel a short distance to the ponds. Observe waterfowl, waders and shorebirds migrating through the Florida Panhandle. Contact Lenny at 850 863-2039 for additional information.

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Growing blueberries lecture in DeFuniak Springs Sept. 14

blueberries2Now that traffic is subsiding and we look forward to cooler days ahead, its time turn our attention to our gardens.  Walton County Master Gardeners’ popular Lecture Series will resume after a summer hiatus.  The All American Garden programs will start off with “Backyard Blueberries.” Daniel Leonard will present options for selecting plants for this area and how to make them produce fruit for your family.  Daniel is the Walton County Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator.

Master gardeners will be on hand to take gardening questions and light refreshments will be served.  Soil testing instruction and supplies will be available for $8.00.  These programs and topics are designed with the home gardeners in mind.

The presentation will be held Wednesday, September 14, 2016 2 – 4 p.m. at the Walton Extension Main Office at 732 N 9th Street in DeFuniak Springs.

The program is $5.00 (check or cash only) to cover handouts and expenses.  This fee is payable at the door or in advance. Seating is limited and reservations are required.  To reserve your place call Cheryl at 850-892-8172 or [email protected] by the Monday before.  This is a service of the University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Walton County.

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Growing blueberries lecture in Grayton Beach Sept. 7

blueberries2Now that traffic is subsiding and we look forward to cooler days ahead, its time turn our attention to our gardens.  Walton County Master Gardeners’ popular Lecture Series will resume after a summer hiatus.  The All American Garden programs will start off with “Backyard Blueberries.” Daniel Leonard will present options for selecting plants for this area and how to make them produce fruit for your family.  Daniel is the Walton County Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator.

Master gardeners will be on hand to take gardening questions and light refreshments will be served.  Soil testing instruction and supplies will be available for $8.00.  These programs and topics are designed with the home gardeners in mind.

The presentation will be held Wednesday, September 7, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 12 Noon at the Extension Coastal Branch located at 70 Logan Lane in Grayton Beach, west off CR 283 just north of the 4-way stop.

The program is $5.00 (check or cash only) to cover handouts and expenses.  This fee is payable at the door or in advance. Seating is limited and reservations are required.  To reserve your place call Cheryl at 850-892-8172 or [email protected] by the Monday before.  This is a service of the University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Walton County.

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Walton County fishing report for August 17

bassFishing is good

Bay: Good stories of big redfish and trout bites.

River: Some bass and flathead catfish bites.

Ponds: Good bream catches and a few bass in area ponds and lakes.

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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