Photography

Bird Watching at Flying Eagle Preserve

Eagle

Eagle

While there is no shortage of great attractions all along the Gulf Coast to the west of the Village of Citrus Hills, there are also plenty of interesting places to the east of our community. One of the best places in the area for bird watching is Flying Eagle Preserve, which is located throughout the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes.  



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This amazing string of natural bodies of water mixed with marshes, swamps, and islands is located just east of Inverness. The entire preserve includes just over 16,000 acres ranging from Inverness on its west side to the Withlacoochee River on its right side.  

The entire area is vitally important to facilitating local water drainage, and just happen to also be an amazing place for bird watching and other outdoor activities.  

Bird Watching at Flying Eagle Preserve 

Kestrel

Kestrel

With more than 16,000 acres to cover, this is not a “sit on a bench and wait” type of birding experience. However, if you are willing to trek through the woods across the area, you are bound to see some fascinating birds.  

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Some of the birds you might spot here include Anhingas, Purple Martins, Wood Ducks, Northern Harriers, Sandhill Cranes, Eastern Screech-Owls, Brown Thrashers, Prairie Warblers, Le Conte’s Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Eastern Bluebirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, and American Kestrels.  
Whether you are a seasoned bird watcher looking to cross a specific species off of your bucket list or are more of a novice just looking to appreciate a beautiful collection of flying colors, Flying Eagle Preserve is a great place to explore the types of birds that inland Florida has to offer compared to the coastal birds you will find along much of the Nature Coast.  

Flying Eagle Nature Center 

Flying Eagle Preserve also contains the 150-acre Flying Eagle Nature Center, which is a complete group campsite.  

The property features a multipurpose building, a lodge, two residences, six cabins, and a total of 10 camping sites. There is also a large commercial kitchen, an outdoor pavilion with seating for up to 400 people, and a swimming pool.  

Most of the buildings here were built in the 1970s when the area was owned and maintained by the Boy Scouts of America. From 2006 to 2012, the property was maintained by the Gulf Ridge Council and the district is currently looking for a new long-term management partner.  

Recreational Activities

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In addition to bird watching throughout the preserve and camping at or near the Flying Eagle Nature Center, there are also a host of more active recreational features in the area. Bicyclers will love making use of the 13 miles of paved trails and hikers will want to take advantage of the 16 miles of wooded trails.  

There are also nine miles of multi-use trails that are marked as “equestrian-friendly”, so horseback riding is also a very popular activity at Flying Eagle Preserve. There are even equestrian facilities at the Flying Eagle Nature Center.  

Provided you adhere to the rules and regulations set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Flying Eagle Preserve is also a great place for fishing and hunting. One of the best fishing spots in the preserve is the Moccasin Slough Bridge.  

It might take you days or even weeks to explore everything included in the 16,000 acres of Flying Eagle Preserve, but since the edge of the park is located less than 20 minutes away in Inverness, heading back for multiple trips will never be a problem.

 

October Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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We’re rolling right into the fourth quarter of 2018, and October is going to be another month that is packed full of activities and events here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

Whether you’re looking for an excuse to get dressed up and hang out with friends, an opportunity to learn something new, a little competition, or just a great meal, we have got you in mind with all of the most exciting things happening around our community this month.  

Social Events

The first big social event of the month will be the Shabbat Dinner in the Garden Room on Friday, October 5. This month, dinner will consist of Bourbon Salmon and Chicken Marsala with sides, and then there will be Key Lime Pie for dessert.  

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Sliced Turkey and Baked Ham will be on the menu at the Harvest in the Hills Dinner Show in the Hampton Room on Saturday, October 13. In addition to a harvest-style meal, there will also be live entertainment from The Michael and Jennifer McLain Band featuring Dan Kelly.  

The monthly Trivia Challenge will be held on Tuesday, October 16 this month, and it will be happening with a Halloween twist! In addition to the normal buffet-style meal, there will also be trick-or-treat candy for everyone.  

On Friday, October 19, Charlie De will be performing a variety of music at the Dancing Through the Decades event in the Hampton Room. Following a dinner of Boursin-Stuffed Chicken Breast and Prime Rib, the music will take guests on a walk from the 60s all the way up to today's hits.  

Arts & Education 

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Lunch & Learn will be back in the Garden Room on Monday, October 15 at 11:30 am. This month, our guest will be photographer Jerry Dawson, who will be discussing his nature photography following a grilled chicken Caesar wrap for lunch.  

Speaker Don Dittatore will be talking about Avoiding Scams in Today's World in the Windsor Room on Tuesday, October 23 at 3 pm. This discussion will cover how senior citizens can avoid being taken advantage of in today's modern world.  

Golf & Tennis 

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The big golf event this month will be the Ghost Open at Citrus Hills on Saturday, October 6. After that, most golfers will be spending the rest of the month practicing for the big November events like the Harvest Invitational Tournament, the Veterans Day Tournament, and the Skyview Men's Better Ball Tournament.  

There will also be free golf clinics for beginners and intermediate golfers at Citrus Hills during the month of October. Beginners can get free coaching on October 8, 9, and 10. Then, intermediate golfers can get help with their game on October 16, 23, and 30.  

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This month's Free Beginner's Tennis Clinic will be held at Skyview Tennis Center on Tuesday, October 9 at 11 am. That clinic should be a big help for anyone who wants to participate in the Tennis Burger Bash, which will also be held at Skyview Tennis Center on Sunday, October 14.  

Tennis players can also look forward to the Tennis Players Golf Tournament on Sunday, November 4. This fun scramble will be starting from the Skyview Tennis Center with options to play 18 holes on The Oaks course or 9 holes on The Meadows course.  

Dinner Specials 

The big October dinner special at Skyview Restaurant is going to be an Oktoberfest event happening each and every Thursday throughout the entire month. Diners will get to choose from options like Sauerbraten, Potato Crusted Cod, Chicken Riesling, and Veal Holstein.  

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Skyview Restaurant will also be hosting a California Wine Country Dinner on Tuesday, October 9. This dinner will include four separate courses, each with a unique wine pairing. And Julie Swift from Jameson Ranch Vineyards will be explaining each of the pairings as they are served.  

On Thursday, October 18, the Tiki Bar will be hosting Alfresco Fall Elegance. Entrees for this meal will include Filet Mignon, Diver Scallops, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Honey Cilantro  

Lime Salmon. There will also be live music provided by Snap Dake.  

BellaVita Spa & Fitness

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 October is also a great month to pamper yourself, so make sure that you pencil in some time to head over to BellaVita Spa and take advantage of their specials like a Pumpkin Facial and a Pumpkin Sugar Massage.

 

With everything happening here at the Villages of Citrus Hills during the month of October, it should be no problem to fill your social calendar with all kinds of unique experiences thanks to the hard-working people at the Activity Center. For more information on any of these great events, don't hesitate to give them a call!

Shutterbugs: Everything to Know About the Citrus County Camera Club

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but the perfect image is even stronger than that for members of the Citrus County Camera Club.

They are the Art Center of Citrus County's largest club, and they invite photographers of all skill levels to get together monthly to share their passion for the art of photography.

Let's explore everything this popular local club has to offer. 

About the Citrus County Camera Club

The Citrus County Camera Club meets on the first Monday between September and June, except where that Monday falls on a holiday. The meetings start promptly at 6:30 pm and are held in the Arts & Education Building at the Art Center of Citrus County, which is less than 5 minutes from our gate.

Many of these monthly meetings will feature a presentation or discussion about some aspect of photography by a member or a guest speaker. The goal of every meeting is to help all members develop their photography skills at their own pace. There are also many other events held throughout each month where members can attend workshops and seminars to focus in on specific aspects of photography.

Camera Club Photo Contests

One of the most popular aspects of the Citrus County Camera Club is the monthly photo contest. During most months that the club meets, a portion of that meeting will be dedicated to reviewing all of the member entries into that month's contest. Each month has a unique theme, and awards are given to the top three photos.

At the end of the year, the members will vote on a "Best of the Best" award, which is chosen from all of the award-winning photographs taken throughout the year. There are also awards for photographers who win the most merit awards throughout the year. 

Upcoming Events

In addition to the standard monthly meetings, the Citrus County Camera Club has some type of activity planned for just about every other week between the months of September and June. One recent experience that members enjoyed was a three-day field trip to St. Augustine where they had the chance to shoot at Ft. Mantanzas National Park, Anastasia State Park, and an Alligator Farm.

On Monday, April 24, the club took a group field trip to shoot the stunning sunset from the end of Fort Island Trail. There are also Photoshop seminars planned for each of the first four Tuesdays in the month of May.

Camera Club Marketplace

If you are looking to buy or sell any photography equipment, the Citrus County Camera Club makes it easy to do using the Marketplace on their website. This feature is reserved for members who are current on their dues, but can be an excellent way to sell off a lens that is collecting dust or to pick up a new camera from a trusted source at a discounted price. 

Photo Opportunities

Another great feature that can be found right on the Camera Club website is a list of great photo opportunities that you can find all over Citrus County. No matter what you are looking to photograph, there are some great ideas in this list that break down exactly where to go and the best times to shoot there.

Whether you are a seasoned photographer looking to share some of your wisdom or a rookie shutterbug just getting into photography for the first time, the Citrus County Camera Club is a tremendous resource that can help you meet and develop friendships with people who share your passion for photography.