PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE 2017/2018          

August 30, 2017

Dear Fellow Audubon Members. I hope that you too are getting ready for another season. Your board of Directors has put together a schedule of Alli-walks along with a few additional trips and activities for the year ahead. Your copy is enclosed.

In retrospect we had a great year. And the one ahead looks even better!

We broke our record with over 1000 people attending the 8th Alligator Lake Spring Festival. New this year was the first annual photography contest! With close to 100 entries, prizes (including cash, gift certificates and a pair of binoculars) everyone considered it a huge success. We have to thank John Middleton, Florida Gateway College and the Branford Camera Club for creating this wildly successful event! In fact, you will want to mark your calendars now for the 9th Alligator Lake Spring Festival planned for April 14th, 2018.

In addition to our monthly walks we had several trips to the new Lake City Treatment Wetlands and one to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge where we did our Birdathon. Speaking of treatment wetlands, what used to be a spray field for wastewater from Lake City is now a thriving wetland home to over 65 species of birds. A newly formed rookery attracted over 350 pairs of breeding birds including nesting Glossy Ibis, possibly the first breeding record for Columbia County. For one of our trips we hosted Noah Valenstein, the Executive Director of the Suwannee River Water Management district. As a follow up we have also been approached by the Water Management District to collaborate on putting Purple Martin houses as a natural insect control measure!

Our two Christmas Bird Counts continue to reflect our changing world and climate. And the more eyes and ears we have to help the better. While our monthly walks provide a great way to learn about birds we are planning to once again offer a beginning birding class. This is something we tried very successfully about 10 years ago and hope to try in Ft. White this time. Stay tuned for the dates and details!

Several Four Rivers Audubon members became Jay Watchers. A half day training in the proper protocol for June surveys is an easy way to contribute as scientists work to secure the future of the Federally threatened Florida Scrub Jay. We will also be partnering with Alachua Audubon for an Eagle Watch training this fall.

We are part of Audubon Florida's Northeast Florida Regional Conservation Committee, advising Audubon Florida about regional conservation issues. Along with our partner chapters we focused on elevating the status of Audubon as a stakeholder of our public lands. We participated in land management reviews for Big Shoals, Oleno State Park, Santa Fe River Rise, Ichetucknee Springs and Troy Springs. You should be proud to be part of an organization that is always invited to participate in this process. If you would like to attend one of these reviews in the future please let me know.

We were able to do outreach at the Chili Cookoff at Oleno and the 1st Ft. White Festival coming up on Labor Day Weekend. And we even held a couple of programs at the Lake City Library. Our first program of this season will be on September 12th featuring one of your board members John Middleton who will talk "Basics of Bird Photography" and how to prepare for the second annual photography contest!

I personally would like to thank the handful of committed people that hold positions as officers and directors and all the volunteers that make Four Rivers Audubon the fun and relevant organization that we are. You too are invited to step up. It could be for just an hour to help with an event or if you have a project that you would like to initiate we are all ears! Looking for ideas? Here are a few things you can do:

• Join a bird walk or take our beginning birding class

• Participate in the Christmas Bird Count • Enter the 2018 photography contest

• Train for Jay Watch http://fl.audubon.org/get-involved/jay-watch.

• Help with the Alligator Lake Spring Festival, the Chili Cook-off, etc.

• Field calls for bird emergencies

• Sponsor the Birdathon and/or make a donation for the Purple Martin houses

• Attend a land management review

• Learn more about and plant native plants to benefit birds and wildlife

You can check out our website at www.fourriversaudubon.org, like us on Facebook and help by spreading the word through whatever social media you prefer. If you would like to receive periodic reminders about our activities send a quick e-mail message to jsulek@audubon.org and I will add you to our distribution list.

On behalf of your Board of Directors, thank you for your continued support and we hope to see you soon!

Jacqui Sulek President - Four Rivers Audubon

(386) 407 4185

jsulek@audubon.org www.fourriversaudubon.org.