Skidaway Audubon News   

Courtesy of Skidaway Audubon 

2020 The Year of the Terrapins 

While 2020 has been a challenging year for people around the world, it has been a banner year for one group of locals -- the diamondback terrapins. 

An Egg-cellent Year - Skidaway Audubon’s 2020 Diamondback Terrapin Program set a new record this summer. Volunteers rescued more than 3,459 eggs from more than 409 nests. The previous record was set in 2018, with 2,822 eggs from 320 nests. All of the eggs, found in The Landing Club’s sand traps, are placed in protected hatcheries. As of the end of September, 1,580 eggs have hatched, and the hatchlings have been released into the marshes. 

The record results may be due to warmer weather, and the fact that the rescue efforts, which have been ongoing for 18 years, are paying off, with a cumulative, positive effect on diamondback populations. The volunteers are grateful to the many golfers, workers, and residents who have alerted them to turtle and nest sightings, and who have expressed support during this very challenging year. They also were thrilled that their years of hard work and dedication were recognized by the Club’s decision to change the name of the course where most of the eggs are found, from Plantation to Terrapin Point. 

Sparrow Field - Volunteers completed construction of a small pond at the pollinator garden at Sparrow Field. Plants have been added, and dragonflies and damselflies, for which the pond is intended, have been frequenting the water source. In addition, a trellis and some salvia have been installed at the berm and plans to shore up a retaining wall are being developed. 

Bird Trail - The Bluebird Trail produced another successful nesting season. All nest monitors have sent in their numbers, and preliminary tallies show it was a great year for our feathered friends. In addition to tallying the fledglings, volunteers also assessed the trails. Fifteen rotten or damaged posts, 28 bird houses, and 15 baffles need to be replaced. Materials for repairs have been ordered, and new birdhouses have been built by one of the volunteers. 

Meg Kettlitz has generously sponsored the bird trail on the back 9 of Oakridge, one of the 12 trail segments that comprise the Dave Scott Bluebird Trail. One of the benefits of sponsoring a trail is a bird outing. Trail sponsors and one guest are invited to ride the trail, learning about the birds there and the role that nest monitors play. They also receive a photo book that includes birds from the trail and pictures from their trail ride. The Sponsor a Trail and Adopt a Nest Box opportunities make great holiday gifts, with the trail rides for Trail Sponsors scheduled during the 2021 birding season. Funds from the Sponsor a Trail initiative help support all Skidaway Audubon projects. For more details on the bluebird program, visit www.birdtrailtravels.shutterfly.com

Bat Houses - A new location for a bat house has been identified on Oakridge's 18th hole, near the tee box after a resident there contacted Skidaway Audubon about bats roosting in her house. Volunteers worked with the resident and course management to select an optimal site for the bat house. In addition, a replacement location was found for an existing bat house on Palmetto, near the 3rd hole tee box, that supplies afternoon shade. These two changes will be implemented soon, along with a new location for a bat box on Marshwood’s 13th hole, near the marsh, somewhat close to the green. 

Bird Cam - Now that the osprey family has left the nest, volunteers were able to make some needed repairs. With lots of effort and assistance, the malfunctioning camera was removed, and the new camera is up and running. The procedure required the rental of an 86-foot lift. Great horned owls have been visiting the nest. One even brought food to the nest and called for the other to come hither. Check out all of the action at landingsbirdcam.com

Tallow Trees - This past month, the Tallow Terrors eliminated hundreds of the invasive tallow trees and saplings, bringing their running total to 53,199 felled tallow trees. Despite the heat, the teams removed 80 tallows along the sprayfield fence parallel to Shellwind Drive, where a grove of six-to-15-foot saplings were found. The team also eliminated 10 tallows in Sparrow Field as well as near the communications tower off McWhorter Drive.  

Sustainability - At its next meeting, the Tree Subcommittee will discuss formulating a policy on removal of healthy trees on the golf courses when they do not impact play or cart paths, such as when they present potential hazards to private property. The subcommittee learned that Google Earth provides a retro look at the tree canopy going back to the inception of the courses. The enormous growth rate of trees over the more than 40 years may influence decisions on tree removal. Skidaway Audubon remains concerned about preserving native tree species.  

 

A diamondback terrapin hatchling, prior to being released into the marsh. The pattern on each diamondback shell is different, just like fingerprints. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make your yard spook-tacular with some Skidaway Audubon yard art! These locally crafted, hand-painted bats will be a frightfully good addition to your Halloween display. All profits benefit Skidaway Audubon conservation initiatives. The big bats are 33 inches across, the little bats are 16 inches across, and all come with stakes. The minimum offer for big a bat is $20 and $10 for a little bat. Quantities are limited. If interested, please email  friendsofskidawayaudubon@gmail.com