Audubon Members Busy as Bees
Summertime and the livin’ is easy – except for Skidaway Audubon volunteers! Rescuing a record number of turtle eggs, gathering data on songbirds, tending gardens, and eradicating invasive trees. It’s a busy season for Skidaway Audubon!
Bees & Blooms - New and seasoned volunteers continue to beautify the berm at the Sparrow Field. Many flowers are blooming, which has attracted a wealth of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. One Master Gardener has taken on the task of enhancing the front of the berm by modifying the plantings. Another volunteer is addressing the weeds in the new walking path.
Egg-cellent Work - The 2020 Diamondback Terrapin nesting season is more than halfway through, and the egg and nest tallies are egg-ceeding egg-spectations. The volunteers who rescue the eggs and place them in protected hatcheries report that the totals to date exceed the year-to-date 2018 and 2019 figures by more than 150 eggs and 25 nests. The highest totals were recorded in 2018, with 2,822 eggs and 320 nests.
Tree-mendous Work - The Tallow Terrors, a team of volunteers who remove invasive tallow trees throughout the island, worked in the heavy brush and brambles bordering McWhorter Drive, and successfully removed 197 tallows in one day. Earlier in the month, huge progress was made, as Evergreen Tree Service removed four large tallow trees, laden with seeds, at no charge. The trees were too large and too close to homes for the team to take down, requiring professional services. Many thanks to Evergreen, as well as to Steve Rice, a 10-year member of the Tallow Terror team. Steve and his wife, Molly, have moved to be near family. Steve was an excellent saw operator with a positive spirit who will be missed. Later in the month, working in three groups, the team cut down 167 tallows in hot and humid conditions in heavy brush. This brings the number of tallows removed to date to 52,366.
Monarch Trail - Monarch butterfly gardens have been planted on Palmetto, and all seem to be thriving. Another butterfly garden was planted at Sunset Park. Lots of caterpillars have been spotted on the milkweed, which is an encouraging sign that the gardens are providing the environment needed for the monarchs to propagate.
Bluebird Trail - The nesting season is in full swing. The first round of baby birds has fledged, and there are many reports of second bluebird broods hatching. There even was a second brood of nuthatches, which is unusual this late in the season. Between broods, birdhouses are being repaired and rotted posts are being replaced. Many thanks to the Woodworker’s Guild for so many birdhouses, to Al Townsend who is rehabbing houses that have “good bones”, and to Rod Selby who is making new houses from donated wood. New volunteers seeking to become nest monitors are being trained, and new information has been added to the Bird Trail website (www.birdtrailtravels.shutterfly.com).
Bird Cam - Both osprey hatchlings fledged on June 17 and were great flyers from their first try. The size of the nest allowed them to do a lot of practice flying from one end to the other, so they knew what to expect once they stepped over the edge. Mom, Dad, and the two fledglings are doing fine. They’ve been spotted hanging around the nest and using it as a picnic table, and all sleep in nearby branches. The birds will continue to use the nest through most of the summer, so maintenance work will be delayed until late August or September. One camera finally failed this year. It had survived the tornado that spawned from Hurricane Hermine, which passed within a few hundred feet in 2016. It will be replaced, and the other two will be serviced.
Bat Abodes - Improvements have been made to the design of the bat houses. The new houses will feature a sleeker design, will be lighter weight so they can be mounted on aluminum poles, and will feature removable parts so they will be easier to clean. Additionally, production costs will be slightly reduced.
Tree Committee - As an Audubon International certified golf community, The Landings must protect the environment while following sound course maintenance practices. The Landings Club has a tree subcommittee to review golf course staff recommendations regarding tree removal, and Audubon recently provided input regarding a proposed plan to eliminate approximately 125 trees. The trees are being removed to eliminate shady areas impacting turf growth, eliminate tree roots damaging cart paths, improve views of the new clubhouse, and add sunlight to the Championship tee boxes, which are seeing more use. Skidaway Audubon representatives recently met with course staff and expressed concerns in a letter suggesting work be postponed until later in the summer at the conclusion of the nesting season. The representatives also advocated ways to reduce the number of trees to be removed.
Interested in supporting Skidaway Audubon? Membership is just $35 a year and is available through Friends of Skidaway Audubon. To join, or for more details, visit skidawayaudubon.org or email email@example.com.