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Georgia coast hosting birding festival
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In the fall, the Georgia coast is positively throbbing with thousands of feeding birds, butterflies and other unique coastal wildlife. Soon, beach-loving outdoor enthusiasts will flock again to Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival held Oct. 9-13 on Jekyll Island. The sixth annual festival offers a variety of entertainment and educational activities, including a keynote speech by Pete Dunne, internationally renowned birdwatcher and author of numerous birding guides.
On Saturday, Oct. 11, a free nature day event is planned for youngsters and families. Nineteen seminars and 53 field trips will highlight coastal Georgia's abundant natural beauty and wildlife. The Jekyll Island Convention Center will serve as the hub for festival activities, and field trip excursions will include many of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Colonial Coast Birding Trail sites.
"The Birding Trail provides excellent places for birding and cultural exploration," said Jim Ozier, DNR's program manager for the Wildlife Resources Division - Nongame Conservation Section. "This festival will offer first time and repeat visitors to Georgia's coast a myriad of opportunities to see amazing bird life and other natural resources."
Throughout the weekend, festival participants will have the opportunity to enjoy free beginner birding field trips, beach and marsh walks, live reptile displays and special presentations on topics such as animal tracking. Seminars also will be offered by some of the Southeast's foremost naturalists and will include topics ranging from gardening for wildlife to basic nature photography.
The festival features trips to outstanding natural areas such as Little St. Simons Island, the Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area, St. Catherine's Island and four National Wildlife Refuges (Blackbeard Island, Harris Neck, Okefenokee and Wassaw). A unique four-hour journey through tidal creeks and St. Simons Sound by shrimp boat will conclude with a wild Georgia shrimp boil lunch.
"Sites along Georgia's coast are recognized internationally as important bird areas," said festival director Lydia Thompson. "This festival will give birders of all skill levels a chance to visit unique habitats and observe a wide variety of coastal birds and other wildlife."
The 2008 festival organizers include the Coastal Georgia Audubon Society, the Georgia Ornithological Society, Jekyll Island-Georgia's Jewel, Wild Birds Unlimited of Jekyll Island, Ogeechee Audubon Society, Georgia Department of Natural Resources-Wildlife Resources Division, and the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

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