Jason, our stalwart air-boat captain and guide, provided a memorable sendoff for Charlie and Carolyn yesterday. Charlie and Carolyn are extraordinary litter gatherers, having accumulated 185 bags from the woods and waters on the Dixie side of the refuge in the few months they have been here so it seemed fitting to do one last cleanup.
Five of us headed off in perfect weather, there was just enough breeze to keep the sand gnats away- most of the time. The target islands were Big Pine and Little Pine near Shired Island. These two sandy islands get lots of stopovers and camping so I expected more trash than we found.
In about 3 hours we gathered 90 lbs. The picture of the trash pile in the parking lot is only from Little Pine where we found 2 mattresses in addition to many rolls of plastic air cells. Maybe next time the campers will pack it out?
Jay Bushnell's Presentation
Last evening, Dr. Jay Bushnell gave a standing-room only audience a very interesting overview of the plantation/sugar mill life in early NE Florida. First, he dared the audience to guess how many original British colonies there were at the time. One or more of the people did know that the number was actually 15, not the 13 that many of us thought. He went on to talk about the grant that was obtained by the local community college, faculty and students to preserve the remaining structures and artifacts after many had been lost to less than careful development. One photo demonstrated this clearly as Dr. Bushnell again challenged the audience. He showed a picture of a wall of a very old sugar mill that had a big hole in it. What caused it? Well, turns out it was created by a transect line being shot through the wall!!
Anne Miller, Sally Beveridge, Joyce DeHaan, Maggi Funchion and Nita Cox joined me, Donna Thalacker, for a spring nature walk in the refuge. It is so beautiful in the refuge now that it was difficult to decide on which trail to walk, but we decided on the 3 mile long Turkey Foot Trail, just off Pond 4 Road. It was a good decision! Within minutes of getting out of the car, we were faced with the tough decision of looking up at the birds or down at the butterflies! We saw hundreds of butterflies, including the large and colorful Palamedes Swallowtails, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails, plenty of crescents and satyrs and the odd Common Buckeye. All of us saw lots but Sally would win the prize for spotting (and thankfully not stepping on) a 4 foot long cottonmouth snake and three Swallowtail Kites. In addition to the Kites, we saw or heard White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Ruby-crowned kinglet, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Northern Parula, a Coot, a Blue-winged Teal and a Red-bellied Woodpecker going in and out of it’s nest hole in a snag. What a lovely day for a walk in the woods!
The next walk in the Refuge will be next week and I will be blogging on when and where in the next day or two. Hope you can join us!
Saturday, March 21
Cedar Key Community Center
Dr. Ken Sassaman will talk about astounding findings at Shell Mound and elsewhere in the region.