ST. PETERSBURG - Fall officially is here and with dropping temperatures, heat and humidity no longer are excuses to stay inside.
October traditionally is the month that kicks off Florida's outdoors season.
Now is the time to hit the flats in search of trout and redfish or take to the woods for day hiking or bird watching.
Outdoor enthusiasts of all levels of expertise will find something to their liking at the Sixth Annual Florida Birding and Nature Festival on Oct.9 through Oct.12 at Eckerd College.
The event benefits the Pinellas County Environmental Foundation, an organization that has done much to improve the water quality of Tampa Bay.
In addition to the seminars, there will be more than 30 field trips and a variety of activities for children.
Contact Joyce King at 727 531-3440, or go to www.pcef.org
BAYWATCH: Tampa BayWatch has two events scheduled in October.
On Oct.18, BayWatch hosts its 10th annual Monofilament Fishing Line Cleanup in conjunction with the National Audubon Society.
Each year thousands of birds and animals are caught in discarded fishing line and usually suffer a slow and agonizing death from starvation.
Anglers can do their share by removing the material during the non-nesting season, providing a safer environment for the next generation of young birds.
BayWatch needs boat captains. Shallow-water boats are preferred. Captains may gather their crew, or volunteers will be matched to boats as needed.
A 10K Power Paddle Challenge for kayaks, canoes and outriggers is scheduled for 9a.m. Oct.25 at the south end of Gandy Beach.
Call 727 867-8166 or go to www.tampabaywatch.org
HELP NEEDED: Another Give a Day for the Bay is scheduled Oct.18. Officials with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program hope to remove invasive Brazilian pepper trees from McKay Bay Nature Park.
Volunteers tackled the problem in January but were unable to finish. County and city personnel operate the chain saws and wood chippers, and volunteers are needed to help cut the pepper limbs and branches into small pieces and take them in cars to be mulched.
To sign up, call 727 893-2765 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
BIOLOGISTS HONORED: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's St. Petersburg-based Florida Marine Research Institute has been given the American Fisheries Society's Outstanding Sport Fish Restoration Research and Survey Project of the Year Award for programs that monitor the health of Florida's marine sport fish.
Scientific breakthroughs of recent decades have enabled FMRI's Port Manatee fish hatchery to raise large numbers of sport fish, including red drum, for stock enhancements programs. The FWC-FMRI Aquatic Health Group program has made great inroads into methods to detect, prevent and treat fishery health problems as they arise during the stocking process.
For more information on FMRI and its stocking programs, go to http://floridamarine.org