By Tamas Mondovics

Local bird lovers had a chance last month to join bird walk host, Rich Crete, owner of Rich’s Backyard Birds in Lithia, during his Sunday morning walks in nearby county and neighborhood parks as well as local trails.

For the season’s first walk in October, Crete and his group paid a visit to one of the county’s best bird habitats, Edward Medard Park, which offered a great variety.

To mix things up a bit in November, Crete has once again geared up and led his fellow birders to one of his favorite places, the ever-popular Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve in Riverview.

“We had a very fun bird walk made so by a super group of about 30 people,” Crete said. “The temperature was nice and cool so it was a perfect day for a bird walk.”

Besides the great weather, Crete said the Preserve walk proved to reap great results, with the identifying of 52 different species of birds, highlighted by several cooperative Bald Eagles. “The majority of the wintering ducks hadn’t arrived yet, but we appreciated the ones we saw,” Crete added.

“If you are new, we’ll help you,” Crete said. “The experienced birders will help the beginners find and ID the birds. We are a very friendly group. Our goal is to see lots of birds and have fun doing it.”

The group of between 12-24 birders normally meets early in the morning at Crete’s store, located at 5670 FishHawk Crossing Blvd. in the FishHawk Publix shopping center, and carpools to the chosen spot.

Those who wish may go straight to the park and meet up with the group there at around 8 a.m. The trip starts early in the morning and is always done by 11 a.m.

There are a few things to keep in mind including that some parks cost a small entree fee and as always, children are welcome as long as they understand the purpose of the walk.

“We are bird watching and that is usually a quiet, slow moving activity,” he said. “If the kids run and play along the route ahead of the group, they will scare the birds away we are there to see.  So I encourage young birders, but please make sure they understand what we are doing.”

As an added tip for the season. Crete said that fall is also a great time to make sure bird feeders and baths are clean and yards are attractive to winter visitors.

Those that would like to sign up for a walk may also send an e-mail to  or stop by the store. The next walk is set for Sunday, December 29 and the location is yet to be determined.


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