Check here in late August for 2018-9 schedule. See you in September.

SFAS Program Meetings
Active: Sept - April
Annual Report
When: Program Meetings are held the Second Tuesday of each month at 6:45pm.

Where:Trinity Episcopal Parish Hall, 204 SR 26, Melrose

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More detail on SFAS
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Photo Credits
Photographs displayed on this website are copyrighted and were provided with permission by:
Ann Stodola
Dr. Jeff Smith
John Sloane
Richard Segall
Carol Sallette
Anne Pierce
Ida Little
Joyce King
Ray Franklin
Bill Chitty
Sallie Carlock
Jan & Bill Bolte
Keith Bollum
Bob Bird

Programs are presented at the program meetings on the second Tuesday of each month September through April.
Field trips and walking workshops are on scheduled Saturdays.

About field trips
Come early and be ready to LEAVE at the times listed.
Bring water, binoculars, hat, sunscreen, and raingear.
Wear sturdy walking shoes. Binoculars are available on loan.

Fall 2017-Spring 2018, Programs and Activities
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Program: “Five Main Means of Bird Communication: the Titmouse Speaks”
Speaker: Katie Sieving, Ph.D. Ecology, Ethology & Evolution, University of Florida

Dr. Sieving will discuss the 5 voices and diagnostic behaviors of birds, how to recognize them, and what these cues can tell us about nature's activities around us. Bird Language is an ancient artistic science that helped keep our ancestors alive and can enrich our experiences in nature today.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Field Trip: Gold Head Branch State Park
Meet at 7:30 am at Melrose Heritage Park (west side) to carpool or 8:00 at Gold Head’s Rec. Hall. ($5 per car entrance fee.).
Leader: Joyce King 352.475.1999 or

Inspired by Dr. Sieving’s presentation, we’ll tune in to the vocalizations of birds to identify species and the messages they’re sending. Developing a keen ear to bird sounds allows us to eavesdrop on what’s happening around us, and offers a new dimension of nature awareness and appreciation.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Program: “Coyotes: Answering Opportunity"
Speakers: Sarah Helm, Wildlife Assistance Biologist, FWC

Coyotes are now found in every county in Florida. These highly adaptable animals are comfortable in every type of habitat, from forest to heavily urbanized. Few animals evoke such strong reactions in people, both positive and negative. This program may surprise and educate about coyotes, their role in the ecosystem, and how people can avoid problems with them.
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Field Trip: Hague Dairy
Meet at 7:45 AM at Melrose Heritage Park to carpool or at 8:15 AM at the dairy’s outdoor classroom parking.
Leader: Laura Berkelman 352.475.2023 or

UF owns this working dairy farm just north of Gainesville. Birds abound. We’ll have easy walking on dirt farm roads (approx. 1.5 mi.) and we might spot Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Cooper‘s Hawks, or Painted Buntings! (Duration: 2 hours at dairy.)
Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
Fun Work Day: Annual Etoniah Rosemary Survey, Etoniah Creek State Forest (See previous years.)
Meet at Etoniah Creek State Forest Office, 8:30 am
Leader: Joyce King, (353) 475-1999

Found nowhere else, and listed as an endangered species. A census to assess the health of this rare plant population is held each October when the plants are in bloom. Volunteers are invited to participate; training is provided. (Also Halloween candy!) Call Joyce King to volunteer.
October 20-21, 2017
Event: Annual Statewide Audubon Assembly

World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida. Visit for details.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Program: “Cavity Nesters”
Speaker: Leslie Straub, Florida Wildlife Care Center, Inc.

Saturday, November 18, 2017, 5 PM to 6:30 PM
Field Trip: Private visit to the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College
Meet at 4 pm at Melrose Heritage Park to carpool or 4:50 at the planetarium.
Leader: Gloria Sheffield at 352-475-5758 or

“Florida Skies” Show lasts about 50 minutes followed by night sky viewing. Wheelchair accessible. $5 per person.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - Conservation Celebration and Silent Auction
Program: “Creative Birdscaping”
Conservation organizations from our area will join us for this celebration. Live music and a silent auction that features local art, nature-related crafts and great Christmas gifts. Join us for a chili supper beginning at 6 pm. (Pictures of past events)

Speaker: Ron Robinson, Alachua Audubon
Some birds come in the winter, some in spring, others stay all year. Who are the visitors to your feeders and bird bath? What brings them to your yard? How can you provide bird-friendly habitat? Bring your questions. Ron has taught birding classes at Santa Fe College for several years.
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Melrose Circle, 118th Christmas Bird Count (Previous years)

The oldest citizen science project in the world relies on volunteers to collect data that contributes to bird conservation and indicates the movement of birds, declines and advances in bird populations numbers, and the possible results of climate change. No need to be an expert birder! Each team will have experienced leaders who can help newcomers. If you can count, you can participate! Call Joyce at (352) 475-1999 for information or to participate.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Program: "Creating Wetlands in N. Central Florida”
Speakers:Debra Segal, Environmental Scientist

Gainesville (with GRU) and Lake City have built wetlands to improve water quality before discharging back to nature. Segal will describe how these treatment wetlands operate using native wetland plants to remove nutrients & pollutants from water & now recharge our aquifer with cleaner water. Aquatic and wetland-dependent wildlife are prospering. Gainesville’s Sweetwater Wetlands Park has benefits of passive outdoor recreation, an environmental learning center, & drawing out-of-town visitors for Gainesville's growing ecotourism-economy.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Field trip: Ron Robinson’s Backyard and Property
Meet at 7:45 am at Melrose Heritage Park (west side) to carpool.
Leader: Joy Segall 352-475-6234 or

Ron attracts large numbers of birds to his property annually with landscaping and innovative, homemade bird feeders and water features. We’ll see a variety of colorful winter migrants as well as resident birds. (Approx. ½ mile in a yard including some uneven ground.)
Saturday, January 27, 2018.
Event: Yesterday’s Festival, 9 am to 4 pm, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park

Experience the Florida of days gone by! Re-enactors, Historic Demonstrations, Cast Iron Cooking, Live Music, Antique Cars, Steam Engines and Tractors, Park Ranger Tram Tours and so much more. Free with park admission. Call (352) 473-4701 for more information.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Program: “The Amazing Kestrel”
Speaker: Allan Hallman, Biological Scientist III, FWC

The Southeastern American Kestrel is a fierce, colorful little falcon listed as “Threatened” in Florida. Learn about the behavior and life cycle of a non-migratory subspecies of kestrel and how FWC is working to restore this amazing bird. Hallman will share his 15 years of experience with boxes, bandings, eggs and chicks at both Camp Blanding and Jennings State Forest.
NOTE: Our program will follow the Boy Scouts’ Pancake Dinner. Come early for pancakes and toppings starting at 5:00 PM or arrive by 7:00 PM for our program.<
Friday-Monday, February 16-19, 2018
The Great Backyard Bird Count

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.
Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.
We invite you to participate! Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 16-19, 2018. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish!

If you’d like to participate, but don’t know how, join us Saturday, February 17th at the Melrose Library. At 10 AM we’ll have a beginners’ bird watching lesson. At 10:30 we’ll walk the grounds of the library and record what we see. At 11 AM we’ll demonstrate how to report the data to Cornell University and explain how it’s used.
Log on to for complete information and how to get started.
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Field trip: Lake City’s Treatment Wetland
Meet at 6:50 AM at Melrose Heritage Park (west side) to carpool or at 8:15 AM at SS Food Store about 1 block west I-75 Exit 423 (SR 47). Debbie Segal will lead us to the site, and the gates will close after we enter.
Leader: Joy Segall 352-475-6234 or

Join Debbie Segal and Alachua Audubon at the new man-made wetlands, not open to the public. Segal will describe how the area was designed and built to improve the quality of Lake City’s storm water runoff and help restore Florida’s natural wildlife. The birding should rival that of Gainesville’s Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
Time at the wetlands 2-3 hours.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
9th Annual Meeting and Potluck Dinner, 6:00 PM
Annual Meeting, Conservationist of the Year Winner and Photography Show. Come at 6 PM for a potluck social; announcements and photography begin at 6:45 PM.
If you’d like to share some of your photographs, contact Laura Berkelman at (352) 475-2023 or e-mail her at
We’ll present the SFAS Conservationist of the Year Award & elect 2018-2019 Officers.
Bring a dish for 6-8 people to share at this pot luck meeting and program.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Field trip: Payne’s Prairie State Park
Meet at 8:00 AM at Melrose Heritage Park (west side) to carpool or at 8:50 AM at park headquarters, 100 Savannah Blvd., Micanopy, FL.
Leader: Lynne Peterson 805-706-0301 or

Park Services Specialist Amber Roux will be our guide, focusing on efforts to restore this park to its natural state.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Program: ““River of Dreams: The St. Johns and Its Springs”
Speakers: Lars Andersen, Dean Campbell & Sam Carr

Hear about John and William Bartram’s 1765 explorations of the St. Johns River and how paddlers and hikers can recreate their journey in north central Florida on the Bartram Trails.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Field trip: Explore Bartram Trail on the St. Johns River
Meet at 7:45 AM at Melrose Heritage Park (west side) to carpool or 10 AM at the Palatka City Dock, 319 River St, Palatka, FL 32177.
Contact: Anne Pierce 352-481-4099 or

Board a 35 passenger boat and enjoy Sam Carr’s commentary as we follow portions of the Bartrams’ route along the St. Johns.
Boat trip will last 2 hours. Qualified wheelchair accessible; please inquire.
Cost $30 per person. Advance reservations required.
Saturday, May 5, 2018
Field trip: Camp Blanding with Allan Hallman
Meet at 7:45 AM at Melrose Heritage Park (west side) to carpool.
Contact: Gloria Sheffield at 352-475-5758 or

Late April and early May is egg laying time for Southeastern American Kestrels. It’s a good chance to see kestrels and their behavior of protecting the eggs.
Inside Camp Blanding, we will car caravan on paved trails, but there may be short stretches of walking on rough ground.
Summer, 2018
Possible Special Field Trip: Sea Turtle Nesting
Field trip opportunity is under development. Look for more information here in Spring.