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Birding by kayak

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On April 20, the Hernando Audubon Society members went from trail to river for their first-ever birding adventure on the Chassahowitzka River. The trip was led by Hernando Audubon’s member Tom St. Clair who is an avid birder.

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I was meeting my friend for this first-time adventure. Being an early bird myself, I arrived at the perfect time to see the fog moving ever so gracefully dancing atop the river while a double-crested cormorant perched on a limb breaching the water as if it was watching a ballet.

Just reaching his 5th year holding the committee chair position of conservation and scholarship chair with Hernando Audubon, Tom St. Clair isn’t new to birding. “When I was very young, my parents were involved in Audubon. We were birders as a family,” St. Clair said. “When I retired as an Environmental Scientist, I decided this would be a pursuit to get back into. We are trying different venues to reach as many people as possible. I would encourage individuals to consider getting into birding. It’s an inexpensive hobby to get into, but it also generates an appreciation for the outdoors and nature.”

While there are many important aspects of birding, learning about the environment of different species of birds is one of them. While most birding trips are commonly hiking through the forest, spotting a red-shouldered hawk perched on a snag, or trying your darndest to spot an eastern towhee in the thick brush. And there are many times you can hear that bird like it was right in front of your face, and you still can’t find it! Exploring different environments gives you opportunities to check off more birds on your list while learning more about Florida’s ecosystems.

Where there are trees, there will be birds. The Chassahowitzka River hosts various birds, even those you would find in the woods, like Pileated and Downy woodpeckers. Still you will have more chances to see tri-colored herons, ospreys, green herons, and other wading birds along the river’s edge.

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It indeed was a gorgeous day to be bird watching while traveling by canoe or kayak along the river’s path. With binoculars in hand and a keen eye, these are the birds the group was able to see:
Osprey
Bald eagle
Downy woodpeckers
Pileated woodpecker
Green heron
Anhinga
Crows
Tri-colored herons
Spotted sandpipers
Black vultures
Turkey vultures
Great blue heron
Double-crested cormorants
Wood stork
Catbird

Birding can be challenging for those just beginning in this newfound hobby, but it also can be enriching and fascinating. Learning about nature and whether it growls, prowls, flies, crawls, chirps, jumps, slithers, howls, or hoots, is a great way to be connected to the outdoors and discover why Florida is so awesome.

Interested in joining a birding group in Hernando County? Join Hernando Audubon Society https://www.hernandoaudubon.org/

Want to test out your birding skills and become a part of a global effort just for birds? Join the Global Big Day on May 14! https://ebird.org/news/global-big-day-2022

Alice Mary Herden
Alice Mary Herden
Alice Mary Herden is an award-winning writer and photographer. She is also an Advance Florida Master Naturalist.
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