l There were fifteen of us that met to take a New Year’s Eve Day walk at Shell Mound and Dennis Creek Trail. We started the walk out on the observation platform and to observe and identify the dozen or so different types of wading birds that were foraging on nearby oyster bars. Oystercatchers, Marbled Godwit, Skimmers, Wilson’s Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Sanderlings and Dunlins we were some of the birds we were able to identify.
The biting sand midges prevented us from lingering too long and we moved on to Shell Mound and Dennis Creek trails. These are wonderful trails to explore as they lead alongside the salt marsh, across a salt panne, then onto an island in the marsh, then back to the base of the shell mound. A lot can be seen in just a relatively short walk. This trail is always a favorite because of the varied habitats that we walk through. In a short distance, we were able to see the effect of just inches of elevation on the plant growth along the trail.
Our next nature walk will be on January 14 and will be a longer walk, about 4-5 miles, and will be behind the gates of the Refuge. We will meet at the Cedar Key Park parking lot at 8:30am. Wear long pants, bring a bottle of water, hat and bug spray and maybe a snack. I am hopeful the weather will be cooler for this walk than it has been lately! We should see a nesting pair of Bald Eagles, and evidence of sea level change. If you wish to join us on this walk but would like to meet at the trail head, please call me, Donna Thalacker, at 352-543-6738 for more information.
Each time I think about a nature walk, I am undecided about which trail to pick! They are each great! So I have made a list and marked the best time of the year to visit each trail. Hopefully, this will make it easier!
This next walk on Thursday, Dec 31 will be at Shell Mound and Dennis Creek Trail. It is a great place for a little history, some bird watching, and some great views of salt marsh, and a view over a fresh water pond where we may see some ducks and heron. The tide will be mostly out, so we may even get a good look at wading birds. In the past, I have seen a wide variety of wildlife here, including feral hogs. I hope you will be able to join me on this last nature walk in 2015!
Those wishing to car pool from Cedar Key, meet at the town park parking lot at 8:30am. My home number is 352-543-6738 and I will have my cell phone with me 515-227-0683. If you would prefer to meet at Shell Mound, we will meet you in the car park around 8:45. Shell Mound can be reached from Hwy 347, south of the refuge and a few miles north of the turnoff from Hwy 24.
Donna Thalacker, Nature Walk Leader
Ten nature loving ladies took a walk in the Lower Suwannee NWR on Thursday, December 03, 2015. Sally Beveridge, Vicki Crumpley, Cindy Leiner, Joyce DeHaan, Kit Lane, Patti Jett, Debi Dorn, Katherine Dunlop, Wynne Simpson joined me, Donna Thalacker, for a 3 mile walk behind the gates at the end of Cabin Road.
As far as I am concerned, it was a perfect day for a walk through the woods, with cooler temperatures and zero bugs.
We started out by startling a flock of Wood Storks, and along the way managed to see a few other birds and a number of flowers still in bloom. Our walk took us over swamp, across hardwood hammocks, and out to the salt marsh, where we saw some evidence of sea level rise out over the marsh. It was a fun walk and a great chance to visit, which could be related to the fact that the only birds we saw were birds we startled!
Thanks to Vicki Crumpley for her photographs!
Our next nature walk will be December 17. If you are around and would like to join me, meet at the Cedar Key Town Park parking lot at 9am. Or give me a call at 543-6738 for directions to the start point. I hope to see you then!