Today at the Landings: 73 °F

Skidaway Audubon Island Projects Flourishing 

Courtesy of Skidaway Audubon 

It’s the season for giving thanks, and despite the pandemic, there is much to be thankful for on this verdant island, according to Skidaway Audubon reports. 

  • Bird Bonanza - It was a record-breaking season along the Bird Trail. Nest box monitors counted a total of 1,452 fledglings, including bluebirds, brown-headed nuthatches, and chickadees. Diana Wilson was presented with a plaque for logging more than 15 years as a bird trail volunteer. This season, when Pat Wolters of Orphaned Bird Care received a baby bluebird, Wilson placed it with a bluebird family on her trail, and the adoption was a success. The parents fed it right away, and its many siblings even waited for it to become fully grown so the whole family fledged at the same time. Nesting data will be compiled and forwarded to researchers at Cornell University. Meanwhile, volunteers are repairing and replacing bird houses, posts, and baffles along the trail, in preparation for the next nesting season. 

  • Turtle Tally - Volunteers have emptied the hatch boxes and found the last few diamondback terrapin turtle hatchlings hiding in the sand. This brought the year’s number of hatchlings released into the marshes to more than 3,150, which is a very significant record. Last year, 2,227 hatchlings were released. The rescue and release program, now in its 18th year, clearly is having a positive effect on diamondback populations. Plans are underway to repair the hatchery boxes. 

  • Pollinator Report - There were some very hungry caterpillars on Skidaway Island this fall! The monarch caterpillars have been devouring the milkweed leaves, with only stems remaining in many places. Recommendations have been made to cut back milkweed plants at this time, to encourage the monarch butterflies to migrate south for the winter. Volunteers at Sparrow Field, who have been cutting back salvias and sages as well, were very productive in 2020. Many new plants were added, front flower beds were refreshed, and two more trellises were installed, along with a pond, deer fencing, and lots of pine straw. Their hard work is appreciated by all who visit the berm, located off Bartram Road. 

  • Tallow Tally - The Tallow Terrors recently eliminated hundreds of invasive tallow trees and saplings, working mainly in the South Spray Fields and the area adjacent to the Georgia Power Company substation off McWhorter Drive. Most of the work required chainsaws, and many of the tallows by the substation were under water, requiring the use of hip waders. On November 16, a large crew, working in very favorable weather, eliminated more than 500 trees in a single day. This achievement brings the total number of tallows felled to 54,636. 

  • New Historic Marker - As part of the Sustainable Skidaway’s initiative to preserve and highlight the island’s natural and historic features, an interpretive sign has been placed at the small cemetery near Oakridge’s 15th hole. An archeological dig and extensive research was conducted at the site in 2014 by local academicians and volunteers. Located near the gazebo near Log Landing Road, the small cemetery dates from 1796. The signage details what was happening locally at that time and provides a broad historic context. The sign was made possible with grants from Landlovers. A map of all of the island’s natural and historic sites is available for $10 at The Landings Association office (600 Landings Way South). 

  • Weather Report - The weather monitoring stations at the two Landings’ Marinas need to be replaced. Additional volunteers are needed to assist with this project, which promotes water conservation throughout the island. The weather station at Skidaway Farms continues to operate flawlessly. The weather data can be accessed through the Skidaway Audubon website. 

  • Butterfly Trail - The newest Skidaway Audubon initiative ended the year with two of the three butterfly gardens surviving the hot and dry summer. Volunteers are needed to help maintain these flower beds. 

For more information about these and other Skidaway Audubon projects, or to become an Audubon supporter, visit skidawayaudubon.org. You can email questions to friendsofskidawayaudubon@gmail.com.

 

 

A sulphur butterfly visits the pollinator garden at Sparrow Field. Sulphur butterflies migrate like monarch butterflies, but do not travel as far south. 

Photo By Amy Collings