Bird steward volunteers Linda Van Gilder (left) and Jan Hahn (right) work to place stakes to mark the bird nesting territory.
On a chilly morning on February 4, Charlotte county staff Suzanne Derheimer and Susan Foley-Pieri, together with park ranger Melanie and six bird steward volunteers, Mary Lundeberg, Robert Kraft, Mike Weisensee, Jan Hahn, Linda Van Gilder and Deborah Larkin, posted about six acres of territory on Stump Pass Beach State Park to give the beach-nesting birds their seasonal territory to raise their families. Historically, both least terns and Wilson’s plovers have nested there regularly. Past years have also included snowy plover nests and black skimmer nests. Staff and volunteers worked from 9 am until noon putting in stakes, signs, corded line and flagging. Bird nesting season started February 15 – please do not cross the posted bird nesting line or allow your dog too near the roped off area, as dogs are perceived as predators and have the potential to disturb critical nesting activities.
Now available for nature loving children and adults! Local nature photographer and writer Mary Lundeberg has published a children’s book about monarch butterflies for ages 6 to 12. “Magical Monarch’s Journey” is a story of survival for one of the most easily recognized and popular butterfly species – the monarch. It tells a true-to-life tale of one monarch, her search for an ancestral home, and the awesome odds she and her offspring must overcome to breed and feed in their special habitats. Monarchs summer in the north and then travel enormous distances to reach their breeding grounds while facing death from storms, fires, countless predators and the thoughtless acts of some humans. Learn how you can help keep these beautiful butterflies alive during their journey. Dr. Mary Lundeberg is a former professor and chair of the Education department at Michigan State University and also an award-winning nature photographer. All the photographs were taken by Mary and many were taken at her home in Englewood where she has observed the monarch’s life stages from egg to caterpillar to butterfly. “Magical Monarch’s Journey” can be purchased locally at “Nana’s A Children’s Shop” and “Nellie’s Notecards & Wilson’s Whimsies” in Venice and at “Copperfish Books” in Punta Gorda. You can order it online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart and from Mary herself at www.marylundeberg.com (link is at bottom of her home page.)
Bird Stewards Needed
Are you interested in volunteering your time to help protect threatened shore birds? The shore bird nesting area is at the southern tip of Manasota Key (Stump Pass Beach State Park.) You can learn about how to do it, and the volunteer opportunities available to help promote a safe area for the birds to nest and raise their chicks. The online Zoom training session will be Friday, March 5 at 1:30 pm and lasts about one hour. To register, go to Friends of Stump Pass on Facebook or email FOSPbirdstewarding@gmail.com.
Stump Pass Nature Walks
Free guided nature walks are being offered on Thursday mornings in March at Stump Pass Beach State Park. Walks are led by Lemon Bay Conservancy member Charlie Woodruff at 9am on Thursdays, March 4, 11, 18 and 25. Walks generally last about two hours. Water, hats, binoculars and cameras are good to bring. Group size is limited for safety reasons and masks are required. Participants are asked to register by calling or texting Charlie at 914•799•0664. Stump Pass Beach State Park is located at 900 Gulf Blvd on Manasota Key.
Mangrove Chapter Nature Walks
The Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society has scheduled socially distanced, masked walks for members and the general public to learn more about the native ecosystems in Florida. To see the schedule for these free field trips, visit mangrove.fnpschapters.org/events/calendar. You can also learn more about the Florida Native Plant Society and its mission to promote the preservation, conservation and restoration of native plants and native plant communities.
Creating Food Gardens
“Growing Your Own Food in South Florida” is the title for a seven-class series with Chef Ian Wolinsky starting on Sunday, February 21 at 11 am at The Dearborn Center, 501 W. Dearborn Street. You’ll learn most everything you need to know to grow your own food in South Florida, including transplanting, soil nutrition, hydroponics, identifying beneficial and destructive bugs, creating a sustainable earth box and storage & preservation. For more information and to register, visit liferealized.org and click on event calendar.
Was That a Coyote?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding Florida residents and visitors to protect pets and backyard animals from becoming prey to coyotes and other wildlife as reports of interactions with these animals generally increase this time of year. “Coyotes are found throughout Florida and they are part of the landscape,” said Greg Kaufmann, FWC Wildlife Assistance Program Administrator. “There is a strong possibility coyotes are in your community, even if you are living in an urban part of the state.” They thrive in natural habitats but are incredibly adaptable and will also live in urban environments where there is available food. To help avoid conflicts with coyotes and other predators, take proactive measures by removing food sources including unsecured trash and pet food, and securing pets and small livestock, as they can become prey to coyotes. These actions will help protect your animals and help deter coyotes from repeatedly coming into your yard or community. Unaccompanied small pets such as dogs and cats that are left outdoors can be preyed upon by wildlife. Protect small pets by keeping them indoors or in an outdoor predator-proof pen. For technical assistance regarding coyotes near your home or in your neighborhood, contact the nearest FWC regional office by going to MyFWC.com/Contact and clicking on “Regional Offices.” More information about coyotes can be found at MyFWC.com/Coyote.
Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center and the Charlotte County Natural Resource Department will be conducting the following free programs open to the public. All programs can be found at www.ChecFlorida.org. Advance registration is required, as are face masks. On these casual walks with CHEC volunteers, you will search 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. For more information or to register, call at 575•5435.
Saturday, February 20, 9 am & Saturday, March 13, 9 am – Join CHEC on a guided walk through Cedar Point Environmental Park, 2300 Placida Road. The preserve consists mostly of pine flatwoods as well as some areas of scrub, salt marshes, mangrove swamps and wetlands. Meet in parking lot near restrooms. Register at 575•5435. Mask required.
Tuesday, February 23, 9 am - Join CHEC on a walk at Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23157 Bayshore Road, Pt. Charlotte. You will be walking along the shoreline of Charlotte Harbor exploring the various mangrove species found there. Register at 575•5435. Mask required.
Friday, February 26, 9 am - Join CHEC on a guided walk through the old-growth pine flatwoods and mangrove fringe of 125-acre Ann Dever Regional Park, 6961 San Casa Drive. Meet at the San Casa entrance. Register at 575•5435. Mask required.
Tuesday, March 2, 9 am – Come along on this guided walk through the 81-acre Bill Coy/Buck Creek Preserve, 5350 Placida Road. The scrubby flatwoods and mangrove swamp border Buck Creek, which flows into Lemon Bay. Meet in the parking lot. Register at 575•5435. Mask required.
Seagrass Wading Trips
Thursday, March 4, 10 am to noon - Join CHEC for a wading adventure through the seagrass beds of Lemon Bay! 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 sun protection and insect repellent and to bring plenty of drinking water. Advance registration is required. Call 575•5435 for more information or to register. Meet in the Cedar Point Environmental Park, 2300 Placida Road, in the parking lot near the restrooms at 10am. Mask required. Also offered on Thursday, March 18.
Friday, March 5, 9 am - Join CHEC on a guided walk through 308-acre Tippecanoe I Environmental Park, 2400 El Jobean Road. This Charlotte County park includes habitats such as scrub, pine flatwoods, marsh, and wetlands. Meet behind the Charlotte County Sports Park. Register at 575•5435. Masks required.
Tuesday, March 9, 9 am - Join CHEC on a guided walk through Charlotte Flatwoods Environmental Park, a 487-acre Charlotte County property of mature pines, dry prairie, marsh wetlands, and freshwater ponds. Its location adjourning state lands make it an important wildlife corridor. Meet at the parking lot on US 41, (15801 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda.) Register at 575•5435. Mask required.
Friday, March 12, 9 am – Join CHEC on a guided walk through the scrub and pine flatwoods of Amberjack Environmental Park, 6250 Gasparilla Pine Blvd. Meet in the parking lot at the end. Register at 575•5435. Mask required.
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