We have a new page called Refuge Notes, on the tab Refuge Notes & Visiting. The photo in this first Note will dazzle you.
Though many of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys NWR volunteers were not able to attend, about 8 volunteers enjoyed a boat ride out to Seahorse Key and a picnic lunch. What a perfect day for the outing, with a cooling breeze, blue skies and low humidity. It was great! We volunteers want to thank the Refuge staff for the treat and for taking time out of their schedules to honor us with this special day!
Highlight of the day was seeing Roger McDaniels receive a well deserved “Volunteer of the Year” plaque for all his efforts at organizing the Brazilian Pepper busting team and all his outstanding work attempting to eradicate this tree from the islands and refuge lands. Good job, Roger! While there, Roger was able to find 4 more small Brazilian Peppers and pulled them up...
A special highlight of the day was getting to see a sleeping cottonmouth snake! Maria Sgambati told us where we might see one and she was right! Thanks, Maria! Thank goodness for my zoom lens!
Donna Thalacker led a small group - just Kit Lane and Debbie Dye - on her last Refuge walk before she heads north. We walked the new "Tram" trail, about 2 1/2 miles, and saw many birds, plants, flowers, butterflies and two small snakes. We got a good look at a Northern Parula and some blooming orchids that Donna had spotted last time she was here. The bugs weren't a problem until we were discovered by some really huge, biting bug. If they were deer flies, they were deer flies on steroids!
Donna Thalacker here: John and I will be heading north soon, but I look forward to one more nature walk in the refuge! We will walk on the new trail, one that was once a tram trail for logging in what is now the Refuge. It is a beautiful trail that is about 2 1/2 miles in length along a rough track, not a logging road. About a third of the walk is amongst scrub oaks and a wonderful place to see birds. I was on the trail last week and the pawpaws and sparkleberries are blooming and I saw an area with some pink orchids in bloom.
The forecast for Thursday is "ok". There is a chance for rain. If it is raining, we will not go on the walk. I would like to make a change in the time. Meet me at the town park parking lot at 8am or at the parking lot at the River Trail near refuge headquarters at 8:30. It is warmer now and i think we will be more comfortable if the walk is before the heat of the day.
Thank you, Frank Morgan, for the fabulous White-eyed Vireo picture!
The Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, consisting of barrier islands and coastal zones around Cedar Key, Florida, is a beautiful place. In just a short distance, you enter a world that seems to be isolated and reminds one of "Old Florida" the way it was back in the old days. The bird rookeries are busy now, and there are certain island that you must maintain a distance so as not to disturb nesting birds between now and June. I was privileged to go fishing here last Friday. We had a great day, and saw some awesome territory. Some photos are below.
I had a chance to visit the Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge near Folkston and Waycross, GA, last Saturday. The Okeefenokee Swamp is the headwaters of the Suwannee River, and, as a member of the Lower Suwannee Friends group I was interested in seeing our "birthplace." I had not been in the Okeefenokee since I was a boy and my uncle used to take me fishing there. It is a wondrous place of almost 500,000 acres. A concessionaire provides canoe and boat rentals, guided tours, etc. Okeefenokee is an indian word meaning "Land of the Trembling Earth" for its floating islands of matted vegetation. It is made up of a series of swamps and underwater prairies. The prairies are about 3'-4' deep most of the time, but do go dry during droughts. The photos here are of Chesser's Prairie and the canal leading out to it.
There are now three slightly used, but newly placed benches at the very end of the River Trail board walk to enjoy. Contributions of pressure treated wood came from former Board member Jay Bushnell who retrieved them from the river as they came past his home in Fowlers Bluff. That wood is probably from Noah’s Ark,….or so Jay reports. The Two Guys, Jay and Board member John Thalacker spend about 8 hours preparing the wood and constructed the benches on site. “They may not be pretty, but at least they’re unique” John announced. “It is a perfect place to see the migrating and leaping Gulf Sturgeon.” Friends paid for the $4 for the decking screws.
Friends and staff efforts this year have included two other benches on the trail as well as seven truck loads of limestone to strengthen the surface and cover emerging roots and cypress knees. For anyone with limited mobility, these were MAJOR improvements. But the River Trail is not finished.
Ahead are preliminary plans for a kiosk at the end of the earthen trail that will provide shelter and tell, with a pictograph, the former days when that space was a logging deck for logs flowed down the Suwannee River. More signs to identify plants and trees and perhaps a trail to an old giant cypress that escaped the loggers saw are also under consideration.
Friends Board and Refuge staff hope you enjoy the additions.
Fire: More than 2,000 acres, mostly in Levy County, have been treated with prescribed burning since January.
Forests: On the Dixie County side, where weather has not been as good for prescribed burning, with the help of the Refuge's new Cat more than 70,000 legacy trees have been planted.
Need information: Refuge Manager Andrew Gude can be reached by text or phone at 703.622.3896.
The Refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Visitors are welcome to walk or bicycle around yellow Refuge gates.
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