TAVARES – Lake County Trails Specialist and expert birder Gallus Quigley is taking on a massive challenge: to see in one year at least 220 of the 284 birds ever spotted in Lake County. But his 2015 Lake County “Big Year” may be short lived.
“My goal is to have over 100 species by day two,” said Quigley.
During the 2015 Lake County Big Year, Quigley is challenging Chris Newton, of Osceola County, to see which birder can sight more birds in their respective counties. When asked why he is taking on the challenge, the answer was simple.
“It’s bragging rights for me and for Lake County,” he said.
However, to meet his goal, Quigley will need to venture from his usual stomping grounds in South Lake and explore some of the farther corners of Lake County, such as Astor, where the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is known to frequent the Ocala National Forest.
“I have a lot of the best local birding habitats in the state within a short drive, such as the Lake Apopka Restoration Area and Ferndale Preserve,” he said.
Earlier this month, Quigley joined international birder and TV personality James Currie during the filming of an episode of “Birding Adventures TV” at Lake Apopka, where the two spotted the Groove-billed Ani, a rare winter vagrant.
“The show will highlight some of the rare birds in Lake County and some of our unique birding opportunities, as well as promote ecotourism and the Wings & Wildflowers Festival,” Quigley said.
Both Quigley and Currie are slated as keynote speakers for the 4th Annual Wings & Wildflowers Festival, to be held Oct. 2-4, 2015 at Venetian Gardens in Leesburg.
To keep up with Quigley’s progress, follow the 2015 Lake County Big Year blog at lakecountybigyear.wordpress.com, like the Wings & Wildflowers Festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WingsandWildflowers and follow the festival on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wingswildflower. For more information about upcoming Parks events, call 352-253-4950, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/parks.