Joe Rihn shares this photo a mourning dove that has made a nest in a wreath decoration. Although that photo was taken last year, this year the dove returned for nesting once again. Here she is with one of the first chicks that hatched.
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is working hard to support, restore, and enhance the Myakka region. At their 432-acre Myakka Headwaters Preserve – where seven creeks converge to form the Myakka River – the not-for-profit land trust recently embarked on a river restoration project in which they planted over 15,400 plants of 27 different species. Included in the planting were 2,000 coreopsis, the Florida loosestrife - a rare endangered endemic plant, almost 1,000 wetland trees from ten different species, and 9,000 plugs of a wetland grass called maidencane. This spring, with support from the Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation and the Arbor Day Foundation, Conservation Foundation plans to plant 10,000 more trees, expanding habitat and creating better streams and woods for fish and game throughout the Myakka region. They are delighted to invite the public to join them in this ambitious initiative and are hosting multiple volunteer days and on-the-land educational events, allowing participants to connect with nature and experience this stunning landscape firsthand. Learn more and RSVP for upcoming opportunities at conservationfoundation.com/myakkarestoration.
Family Sunset Adventure Join a UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County educator to enjoy the mysteries of the setting sun for an engaging family-friendly moonlight walk on Friday, March 31, 7pm, at Lemon Bay Park & Environmental Center, 570 Bay Park Blvd. The walk is free, but you must register at ufsarasotaext.eventbrite.com.
Myakkahatchee Creek Nature Walk
Learn more about native Florida flora and fauna at a guided nature walk on Saturday, April 8, 9 to 11am, at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, 6968 Reisterstown Road, North Port. This free event is open to all ages. Pre-registration is required at https://bit.ly/NatureWalkNP. Hosted by the North Port Parks & Recreation Department and the Environmental Conservancy of North Port and Surrounding Areas. For more information, call 941•429•7275.
Volunteers Needed for Seagrass Monitoring
UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant Charlotte County is seeking volunteers to participate in the 4th Annual Eyes on Seagrass Citizen Science Monitoring Program to document the health of seagrass in upper Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay. Volunteers are asked to form teams of at least three and are responsible for transportation to their assigned sites via boat, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or wading. Individuals may also attend training but are not guaranteed to be placed on a team for sampling. New volunteers are asked to attend in-person training prior to the first outing. Online instructional videos will be made available to repeat volunteers or those who can’t attend training. Training sessions are offered Saturday, April 8, 10am to noon, for spring sampling and Saturday, June 24, 10am to noon, for summer sampling. Spring sampling will be April 17-May 1 and summer sampling will be July 10-24. Training and equipment pick-up are at Centennial Park Rec Center, 1120 Centennial Blvd., Port Charlotte. Register online at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotte/sea-grant/eyes-on-seagrass. For more information, contact Kate Rose at 941•764•4346 or [email protected]
Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC) Activities
On these casual walks with CHEC volunteers, you will search for and learn about plants, animals, fungi, and more that live in Charlotte County preserves. Prepare for each walk with plenty of water, insect repellent, sunscreen, and clothing that will protect you from insects and plants. Advance registration is required. For more information on programs, please call 941•475•0769 or email [email protected] Go to www.CHECflorida.org for a complete program calendar. The Magic of Moments Join CHEC for a free guided walk at Oyster Creek Environmental Park on Saturday, March 25 followed by a free, spoken word performance at Cedar Point Environmental Park with Joan Kantor, the author of the book “The Magic of Moments.” The Magic of Moments, from mindfulness to reflection, is a meditative celebration of every aspect of nature. The book will transport you to a quiet and peaceful world and make you think about the importance of the environment. Meet at the Oyster Creek parking lot, 2333 Placida Road, for the guided walk at 9am and from there you will walk to Cedar Point Visitor Center for the rest of the program from 10:15 to 11:30am. Advance registration is required by calling 941•475•0769 or email [email protected] For more information on Joan Kantor, go to joankantorpoet.com. Tippecanoe II Mitigation Preserve Join CHEC on a guided walk on Monday, March 27 at 9am through Tippecanoe II Mitigation Preserve, 16259 Joppa Avenue, Port Charlotte. This 150-acre preserve is home to several families of the threatened Florida scrub jays. Meet in the parking lot. Please call 941•475•0769 to register or for more information. Charlotte Flatwoods Environmental Park Join CHEC on a guided walk through Charlotte Flatwoods Environmental Park on Wednesday, March 29 at 9am. This 487-acre Charlotte County property features mature pines, dry prairie, marsh wetlands, and freshwater ponds. Its location, adjoining state lands, makes it an important wildlife corridor. Meet at the parking lot on U.S. 41 (15801 S. Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda). Please call 941•475•0769 to register or for more information. Seagrass Wading Trip Join CHEC for a free wading adventure through the seagrass beds of Lemon Bay on Friday, March 31. All participants will be guided approximately a half-mile to the wading site, where they will collect and view creatures of the bay. Participants will need to wear closed-toe shoes and clothes that may get wet during the trip. Participants are also encouraged to wear sunscreen and insect repellent and to bring plenty of drinking water. Meet outside the Cedar Point Visitor Center, 2300 Placida Road, at 9am. Advance registration is required. Trips fill up fast! Email [email protected] or call 941•475•0769. Also offered Friday, April 14 at 9am. Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park Join CHEC on a guided walk through the old-growth pine flatwoods and mangrove fringe of 125-acre Ann and Chuck Dever Regional Park on Saturday, April 1 at 9am. Meet at the San Casa entrance, 6791 San Casa Drive. For registration, email [email protected] or call 941•475•0769. Also offered Saturday, April 15 at 9am. Tippecanoe Environmental Park Join CHEC at 9am, Monday, April 3, on a guided walk through 308-acre Tippecanoe Environmental Park, 2400 El Jobean Road, Pt. Charlotte. This Charlotte County Park includes habitats such as scrub, pine flatwoods, marsh, and wetlands. Meet behind the Charlotte County Sports Park. Please call 941•475•0769 to register or for more information. Bayshore Live Oak Park Join CHEC on a walk, Wednesday, April 5 at 9am, at Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23157 Bayshore Road, Pt. Charlotte, along the shoreline of Charlotte Harbor, to explore the various mangrove species found there. Mangrove identification will be covered, and you will learn about special adaptations that allow mangroves to thrive in salty environments and why mangroves are important and protected in Florida. Meet at the playground. Please call 941•475•0769 to register or for more information. Cedar Point Environmental Park Join CHEC on a guided tour of the 115-acre Cedar Point Environmental Park on Friday, April 7 at 9am. Meet outside the visitor center at 2300 Placida Road. Oyster Creek Park Join CHEC on a guided walk through the old-growth pine flatwoods, scrub habitat, and mangrove fringe of the 250-acre Oyster Creek Environmental Park, 2333 Placida Road, on Saturday, April 8 at 9am. Meet at the parking lot located by Lemon Bay High School. Please call 941•475•0769 to register or for more information. Amberjack Environmental Park Join CHEC on a guided walk through the scrub and pine flatwoods of 217-acre Amberjack Environmental Park on Monday, April 10 at 9am. Meet at 6250 Gasparilla Pines Blvd., where the street dead ends. Please call 941•475•0769 to register or for more information. Bill Coy Preserve Join CHEC at 9am, Wednesday, April 12, for a guided walk through the 81-acre Bill Coy Preserve. The scrubby flatwoods and mangrove swamp border Buck Creek, which flows into Lemon Bay. Meet in the parking lot at 5350 Placida Road. For more information and to register, call 941•475•0769. Nighttime Seagrass Wading Trip Embrace your inner nocturnal side and join CHEC on Tuesday, April 25 for a two-hour nighttime wading adventure through the seagrass beds of Lemon Bay! Search for, catch & release sea creatures in Lemon Bay. Learn about unique aquatic plants and animals with help from a CHEC Naturalist. The program will conclude with a cup of hot cocoa for the cooler winter months! Program fee is $15 per person. Advance registration is required. Meet outside the Cedar Point Visitor Center, 2300 Placida Road, at 6:30pm. For registration contact [email protected] or call 941•475•0769.
Mangrove Chapter Activities
The mission of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. The Mangrove Chapter serves Charlotte County and southern Sarasota County. For more information, contact them at [email protected] Circus Hammock Preserve Walk Join Jeff Weber, Sarasota County Parks Environmental Specialist, for a guided walk at Circus Hammock Preserve on Saturday, April 15, 9 to 11am. This 22-acre preserve is located at 4572 17th Street in Sarasota, just west of the 17th Street Paw Park. Seasonally dry conditions make this the ideal time of year to explore this shady hardwood swamp forest in search of spring blooms. Those with binoculars may also see a migrating warbler or two! Park along the road shoulder on the west side of the entrance road. Meet at the preserve entrance. Mosquitoes shouldn’t be too bad, but you may want to bring insect repellent, just in case. For information email [email protected] Sunset Stroll Join Dave and Linda Manley from the Mangrove Chapter of the FL Native Plant Society on Wednesday, April 19, 4:30-5:30pm, for a Sunset Stroll at Lemon Bay Environmental Park, 570 Bay Park Blvd. While Lemon Bay is a large park, the stroll will cross the footbridge and walk only the grassy, lightly shaded pine flatwoods trail. At the footbridge you will see water-loving plants such as golden canna, giant leather fern, and scarlet rosemallow. As you walk into the drier areas, you should see bloodleaf, dotted smartweed, and candyroot. Meet at the nature center. For more information email [email protected]
LBC Guided Nature Walks
The free guided nature walks shown below are sponsored by Lemon Bay Conservancy and will be held at Lemon Creek Wildflower Preserve, 3120 Gasparilla Pines Blvd., Englewood. Please come prepared for a hike. The preserve can be “buggy” this time of year. Consider wearing long sleeves and long pants. Water, a hat, sunscreen, bug spray and hiking shoes are recommended. Some people like to bring a walking pole. Binoculars are useful for observing more distant birds and other animals. Labyrinth Journey Anne Bonney will lead a guided tour of the Labyrinth on the Hill at the Preserve on Wednesday, March 29, 9 to 10am. Anne is a founding member of the Pilgrim’s Landing Labyrinth on Cape Cod. Join her for an introspective, instructional, inspirational journey through the seven circuits of the new Labyrinth. Feel free to journal, video, photograph, and wear protective footwear. Meet at the kiosk. Birding Tour Ken Blackshaw will lead a social birding tour, meeting at the kiosk area on Friday, March 31 from 8am to 11am. Birders of all levels are welcome to attend to marvel and uncover lesser-known facts about the birds at the Preserve. Please bring your binoculars, cameras, water bottles, sunscreen, and bug repellent.
The items appearing in this column are as accurate as possible. Please call the listed numbers for confirmation and further information. If you have an upcoming event you would like considered for Nature Calls, please send info to [email protected]