Nature

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A holiday gift to the birds

Decorated edibles adorn cedar tree at Coastal Branch Library As one of the Friends of the Library activities, children gathered to decorate a cedar tree in front of the Coastal Branch Library on Dec. 6. Pinecones were coated with peanut butter and seed, along with stars made from pipe cleaners strung with Cheerios. The children then hung with care as a special treat for the birds. Brian Mitchell, Kianna and Indica Riggins, Maddox Rhea, Michael Fontaine of Santa Rosa Beach,...

Venture Walton: Wildlife finds new habitat in Freeport

Sharp-shinned hawk and flying squirrels released at Hammock Bay Joe Wyatt, naturalist at Hammock Bay in Freeport shared a recent morning with me to witness the release of a rehabilitated sharp-shinned hawk and four juvenile flying squirrels. Lisa Miller of Wildlife Rehabilitators in Niceville recently rehabilitated the animals. When the animals were healed, Lisa handed them off to Joe for release back into the wild. The sharp-shinned hawk was discovered with a cut between her wings. The cause of the...

Journey to the Shoal Sanctuary

The Shoal Sanctuary in Mossy Head is an unusual and peaceful place in north Walton County. Owned by Robert and Chris Larson, the sanctuary is a place of refuge from a busy life. In 2000 the couple acquired land adjacent to their 16-acres and began reforestation and creating trails. Long-leaf pine, ash magnolia, Torreya pine and other native trees have been planted to restore the land. There is much to experience around the grounds and along the trails of the...

The South Walton Garden

What’s happening in your garden? Fall is a great time to plan for next year in your garden, also an excellent time to plant everything. It gives the plants a chance to establish a good root system, so that they are ready for their first hot, hot summer. 1) Take a close look at your garden/ landscape.   What do you expect from it?  Do you need curb appeal?  Do you want shade/ more sun?  Is their an area that’s giving...

Sharing an autumn sunset

Reeling in a beauty Local Tom Sloyan went fishing on Nov. 1 at Dune Allen Beach. Tom didn’t catch any fish, but reeled in some sunset beauties. Tom is co-owner of Daisy’s Garden shop on Veteran’s Road. 850.200.5571. Watch a slideshow of Tom’s sunset pictures. watch?v=CKlyoymEtdc...

Wildlife officials to test hunter-harvested ducks for avian influenza

Hunters will not need to surrender ducks Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services biologists will collect samples from hunter-harvested ducks to test for highly pathogenic avian influenza – H5N1. Sampling will occur at various times during the migratory game bird hunting season at several duck-hunting hot spots throughout Florida. Hunters will not need to surrender their ducks, and participation is voluntary.  Biologists will obtain the samples by swabbing the ducks’ respiratory...

Environmental Forum at Sandestin Nov. 13

Director of Nokuse Plantation to kick off this year’s forum A forum uniting environmental efforts throughout Walton County, will be held Thursday, Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort. Created by the Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC) New Product Development Committee, the forum unites established environmental groups and organizations to meet and work together for the overall ecological benefit of Walton County. “The forum provides an important platform to unite individuals...

Walton County Extension Service identifies plants

What is that plant? Plant identification is an important feature of the Walton County Extension Service.  As volunteers with the Extension Service, the Master Gardeners are willing to help out with the process of plant identification.  In order to for them to be effective in helping you they will need the following plant information: When you collect a specimen, collect as much information about the plant as you can.  If you cannot take an actually specimen (it is on the...

Home on the ‘Range’

Burrowing owls call Eglin Air Force Base home Growing up in South Florida, I would often find burrowing owls in the fields and pastures I explored. These little guys were a fairly common sight down south, with habitats in close proximity to urban areas. However, for a burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia floridana) colony to exist in Northwest Florida, well… is quite extraordinary. The Eglin Range area is the only place the birds reside in the Florida Panhandle – with the...