Visit Crosby Sanctuary!
“It’s my happy place!” – Carol Bailey-White
You’ve heard us talk about it before, but now it’s time to visit! Crosby Sanctuary, with over 500 acres of bottomland swamp and oak hammock, hides in the heart of suburban Clay County, Florida. Owned by Duval Audubon Society, this limited access nature preserve is home to a full biodiversity of native plants, mammals, birds, and reptiles and is now included in conservation lands mapping by Clay County and the Florida Natural Areas Inventory. A visit there provides respite amidst a busy, congested backdrop of human development. Just last week on our monthly field trip we saw 25 species of birds as well as 3 deer and a rabbit! Other times we’ve seen otter and gopher tortoise.
Although not open to the public, field trips and work days are offered the fourth Saturday of every month (except December) from September to May at 8 a.m.; just show up at 427 Aquarius Concourse, Orange Park. Duval Audubon Society members, their families and friends also have access to this sanctuary through the Board members. Private tours for your group can be arranged by calling Sanctuary Directory Pete Johnson at 904-536-4806 or DAS Vice President Carolyn Antman at 904-477-9807. See you there!
Our fall season is about to begin!
A note from the Chapter President, Judy Jeffas:
Our new season is upon us so let's recap the previous season and give you a preview of the next one.
We have continued to make improvements at our Crosby Sanctuary in Clay County. These include a new bridge over a wide culvert on the main trail, a new kiosk at the North entrance in the Orange Park Country Club and some benches to rest on along the main path. Unfortunately, we had a large unanticipated expense at Crosby when we discovered that there was a Pine Beetle infestation and several dozen trees had to be cut down to prevent the infestation from spreading to nearby areas.
We had a great turnout at our second annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids at Camp Chowenwaw with 46 youth participating. Our Youth Outreach Director, Christina Dembiec, has started the Northeast Florida Young Birders Club for high school age students.
We moved the end of the year breakfast to a new location at the Arlington Lion's Club Park. This event was well attended and we will reserve this location again for next year.
We have some great programs scheduled for our upcoming season. Members should be receiving their print copy of our annual calendar in the mail any day now. If you're not a member, we hope you'll join. Also, our calendar can be downloaded and printed here.
We have kept many of our favorite field trip sites and added a few new areas to explore. This year we are asking for advance notice for those who want to share photos at the potluck dinner meeting in December so that we can allow more members to participate. Details are on the web site. For information about the camping weekend events, feel free to contact me at 904-612-7036.
Thanks to all our great volunteers last season. There are still numerous volunteer opportunities such as Eagle Watch (training coming up on September 17th), Crosby Sanctuary work days, Christmas Bird Count for Kids, shorebird stewarding or the Great Backyard Bird Count events so we hope you'll participate. Now mark your calendars and join us for fun and adventure as we kick off this next season!
EagleWatch Volunteers Complete a Successful Season!
A shoutout goes to all our EagleWatch volunteers for their efforts monitoring our Bald Eagle nests in Northeast Florida for the 2015-2016 season! We had 46 volunteers monitoring 39 nests with 32 successful fledglings. A special thank you goes to Ann Harwood-Nuss for all her volunteer work coordinating the program and keeping it going.
There is more work to be done and we are getting geared up for the 2016-2017 season. A special training session will be offered on Saturday, September 17 from 10:30-noon at Deerwood Country Club, 10239 Gulf Club Drive, Jacksonville. Be there to become a volunteer and help grow Florida’s eagle population. Please note pre-registration is required to attend since space is limited. Details are on the calendar.
For more information about EagleWatch, see our report under the drop-down menu under Conservation and also go to fl.audubon.org.
The Audubon Florida EagleWatch Program started in 1992 at the Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland and now covers much of the state. Since urban eagle nesting activity in Florida has increased dramatically in the last decades, the Audubon EagleWatch Program seeks to:
1. Compile data for publication to document urban nesting activity.
2. Emphasize monitoring of urban pairs to record long-term nesting trends.
3. Identify potential threats to nesting success since most threats are related directly or indirectly to human activity.
Bald Eagle fledglings
Duval Audubon participates in the statewide program, monitoring nests in Duval, Nassau and Clay counties. The NE Florida program, coordinated by Ann Harwood-Nuss, also covers St. Johns and Putnam counties. The season runs from September to June. In the 2015-16 season in NE Florida there were 46 volunteers monitoring 39 nests. Although 5 deaths were reported, 32 eaglets fledged successfully. Two nests successfully fledged 3 eaglets after EagleWatch intervened when developers were interfering with the nests.
Despite delisting as an endangered species, eagles clearly still need advocacy and protection. It is estimated that the average fledge rate is 75% across the state and that only 50% of fledglings survive the first year, therefore, net gain is modest (~130). Development is a constant challenge, however, Audubon’s citizen science program is very effective tool with dedicated observers out there after storms, identifying threats, and getting the help to the birds as they need it.
For more information about Audubon Florida EagleWatch visit fl.audubon.org, Get Involved, EagleWatch.
Become a volunteer. You can download the registration document from the above site.
Global Big Day a Success for the Northeast Florida Young Birders Club!
Here’s the latest from Marie Chappell of the Northeast Florida Young Birders Club, on their 2016 Global Big Day outing. Please mark your calendar for the 18th for their next birding adventure!
The 2016 Global Big Day—May 14th—was the biggest big day in all of birding history so far, with the most bird species seen in one day. The members of Cornell’s Team Sapsucker were by no means the only birders out there; others included well-seasoned birders, casual birders, avid birders, beginning birders, and young birders.
The Northeast Florida Young Birders Club participated as well. Some of the Club’s members started their Big Day after eight o’clock in the morning; others started before six (okay, I’ll admit it, that was me). But whatever time we started, it certainly turned out to be a memorable day!
Huguenot Memorial Park was our first stop as a group. We birded with the Duval Audubon Society and had the pleasure of meeting and learning from their trip leader, Judy Jeffas, Joan and Richard Becker and other Audubon members. Of course, there was no lack of birds! Thousands of nesting Laughing Gulls screamed from the dunes. About a dozen Black Scoters snoozed and preened on the sand bars. A young Great Black-backed Gull eyed us suspiciously as we attempted to identify it. An unusual Pectoral Sandpiper showed up amidst some Dunlins. Even a gorgeous American Oystercatcher pair offered great views (although we never did see their chick). As the young birders club left for their next destination, the trip ended with a happy 33 species.
For more of the story with photos of their Big Day, please click here!