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Mistletoe has winter bird walk, Dulcimer Jam Saturday, Sunday

Mistletoe State Park has a diverse weekend full of events planned for January 14-15.

A winter bird walk for bird watchers will take place on Saturday, and a mountain dulcimer jam will be held both Saturday and Sunday.

Bird watchers can expect to hike a trail that goes down a long creek with beautiful ferns, said Anne Waters, the volunteer field trip leader who will be navigating the excursion. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

"We will be looking for wintering birds such as the Ruby-crowned Kinglet (a tiny olive bird with bright red feathers that rises when excited),'' Ms. Waters said.

Several of the birds that Waters hopes to see nest up north in places such as Canada, Minnesota, Michigan and New York. These particular birds "winter" down here where it is warmer.

Attendees will carpool to the lake to look for Canada Goose, loons and grebes after the short hike. These birds can normally be found in the Georgia and Alabama regions during this time of year, Ms. Waters said.

But there are certain birds that Ms. Waters expects to see.

"We should see Brown-headed Nuthatch (an endemic bird only found in Southeast America), and Bluebirds," she said.

Those planning to attend the event should bring a water bottle and comfortable shoes. Binoculars and cameras also are a good idea, Ms. Waters said. Everyone should meet beside the Nature Center at Mistletoe State Park to begin the walk.

For music lovers, the park also will play host to a mountain dulcimer jam all weekend.

Peggy Ertz is a member of the North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association (www.ngfda.org), a group that boasts more than 500 members and a satellite campus in Augusta.

Mrs. Ertz and her husband, Rick, started the event with six or seven people just camping out and playing their instruments. About 50 people played last year and there were constantly 20 to 30 people standing around listening, Mrs. Ertz said.

Campers will begin arriving on Thursday and some will stay until Monday because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The public is invited to attend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Music will be played at the newly renovated beach shelter. Beginner's classes will be available for spectators interested in receiving introductory dulcimer lessons.

"The instrument is basic to play," Mrs. Ertz said. "It is one of only two instruments that is American in origin, (the other being the auto harp)."

Mrs. Ertz encourages all musicians and people interested in music to attend, not simply dulcimer players.

"There will be music around the clock," Mrs. Ertz said. "It's just a huge jam."

Admission for both events is free with a $3 per car admission pass to the park, which can be contacted at 541-0321.



Web posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2006











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