Watching the ibises fly over Cedar Key this week and knowing that they were foraging for food for their nestlings, Friends members Mac and Nita Cox wondered where they would find enough freshwater fish for all the baby birds during this dry season. Juvenile ibises can't take the saltiness of fish from the Gulf. The adults need to fly in to fresh water areas, find food, and carry it back to the nesting areas on Snake Key in the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.
We asked Deputy Manager Larry Woodward about it and learned that finding enough food for nestlings is a full-time job for adult ibises. They fly far, multiple times a day, to forage and bring back fish for their young.
People have gathered at Shell Mound for more than 1500 years to celebrate the summer solstice. Come and join Friends of Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys NWRs and the Florida Public Archaeology Network for this year's gathering. Learn about the place where Shell Mound was built centuries ago . . . a huge, wind-formed dune aligned with the solstices.
When: Sunday, June 20th, 9:00 to noon
Where: On CR 326, three miles off CR 347, on the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, near Cedar Key
What to Bring: sunscreen, water, shoes for a trail walk, hat and clothes for protection from insects, bug spray
To learn more about the natural and cultural history of the Shell Mound site before coming, you may want to look over the interpretive panels or read the short guide book, Shell Mound: A Portal into Another World, on our Shell Mound website page.
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 email@example.com.
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.