Thanks to the pandemic, the Friends Welcome Desk at Refuge Headquarters has been closed, and it is unlikely that it will be available anytime soon. Space is at a premium at the Refuge and the space that was designated for Friends, is now occupied by USFWS employees.
Coincidentally, the Cedar Key Chamber reached out requesting more information on Refuge activities.
Peg Hall and Denise Feiber met with Sue Colson to discuss a trial run of setting up a Friends table at the Chamber Welcome Center. On two days (one Saturday and one Wednesday) in May, Peg and Denise set up displays and brochures at the Chamber from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the short time, approximately 40 people stopped by for an education in the many activities offered, particularly those in the Lower Suwannee NWR. Visitors to Cedar Key are often unaware of these areas.
Based on the results of these trial runs, the Friends Board supports moving forward with an extended trial period for the following dates: June 12, 19, 26, and July 3. Time period between 10-2 seems to work well.
We need more volunteers to help cover these dates. Can we count on you? If so, please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friends has many trail guides available for folks who want to walk, bike, and paddle on the refuge. You can access all of them on the website Maps page.
And yet, one of the features that all visitors remember about coming to the Lower Suwannee or Cedar Keys Refuge and trying to walk or bike in warmer months is our biting insects!
Friends board member Dan Kline is a biting insect researcher. He is working on a trail guide for a virtual trail . . . one you can enjoy and learn from without having to actually go out and walk or bike it. Here is a preview of some of his video that will help describe and explain the habitat that yellow flies most enjoy . . . and thus humans might want to avoid in warm months.
A note from board member Debbie Jordan:
We’ve had another delightful spring weather-wise. Time to get out and enjoy the Refuge! Roy and I had a chance to show two birdwatcher friends from Colorado a little piece of our heaven last month. I think the wildness of the area really blew them away, so unlike the rest of Florida further south. We drove the mainline and walked the beach at Shired Island, where we ran into Kathy Dusterwinkle, one of our wonderful Refuge volunteers from Michigan as she was picking up trash on the beach. Those volunteers really work hard. Here’s a few photos from our expedition.
We ran across a few intriguing plants. The Leather flower grows on a vine and the flower is curiously stiff.
A few horseshoe crabs were on the beach, these fascinating creatures are older than dinosaurs!
Since this Barred Owl did not fly off, we assumed it had a nest nearby. Quickly admiring the beautiful markings, we snapped a couple of pictures and got out of there.
I am sure our friends will be back!
We are in the “biblical proportions of bloodsucking, biting, and insanity-causing insect season”. Forester Daniel Barrand is mulching with the Tiger Cat in Dixie County. The video shows the horrendous swarms of biting yellow flies in the Week's Landing area where he is working. This is the definition of insanity if you are outside.
Daniel, along with our new staff members Jasmin Muslimani (Refuge BioTech) and Nicolle Montero (UF Summer Forestry Assistant), attended Leah Eggeman's timber sale prebid meeting at St. Marks. Daniel said that this is the most complex timber sale he has put together to date while with the NWRS.
Jasmin and Nicolle Montero are also working to continue our Bobwhite Quail surveys.
Last week, while Nicolle and Jasmin were doing photo plot work, they got into a terroristic horde of ticks that were literally crawling all over them. They had to return to the shop to de-tick and change clothes.
Refuge Engineering Equipment Operators Jason Coates and George Pelt have been doing road improvement work around the refuge. Also, Jason recently repaired several large potholes at McCormick Creek Road boat launch.
The 2021 - 2022 Lower Suwannee Hunt Brochure is off to the printers and already available here on Friends website. We offer 201 aggregate hunt days, 131 aggregate hunt days minus waterfowl, or 99 total hunt days. Our phones are already getting calls about this upcoming season's hunts.
Least Terns and Wilson’s Plovers have established a shorebird nesting colony! Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff are surveying the areas. Refuge staff are working to protect these nesting birds by attempting to lure and trap raccoons. So far no raccoons have been trapped despite a variety of baits being used. They are apparently very smart and savvy.