June 12-18

Monday, June 14: CREW Cypress Dome

One Swallow-tailed Kite chick was still hanging out at its nest, but all of the others including its nest mate had fledged. This one was ready.

It was one of 17 kites observed. Thirteen of those were perched in a nearby tree, almost as if they were there to encourage the last chick to leave the nest and join them. They were all preening and calling to each other. A photo of ten of them in the tree is below. The other three in that group were lower.

The Crested Caracara at the right was at the top of cypress tree overlooking Corkscrew Road, but it was on the opposite side of the road from the CREW property. It didn't look as though it was planning to fly across the road to CREW at any time in the near future, so it didn't count for the wildlife survey.

Another nice sighting was the Black-bellied Whistling Duck at the left. It was perched at the top of a snag near the start of the white trail.

It was the only one seen, and there wasn't any water nearby, so perhaps it just stopped for a rest before moving on to a better spot.

A Tricolored Heron flew over, and it was headed in the direction of water in Caracara Prairie Preserve. The resident Great Blue Heron and two Sandhill Cranes were the only other long-legged "water" birds that were observed.

As usual, the most often seen avian species was Black Vulture with 57 individuals counted. All were roosting in trees at the regular nighttime roost just south of the white trail.

Mammals were just Cottontail Rabbits and White-tailed Deer. The deer were in two groups. One was a doe with two almost adult-sized offspring, and the other was the fawn at the right and its doe.

Herps were a pair of gators, one large and one small, lots and lots of Squirrel Treefrogs, many Green Treefrogs, and a few Brown Anoles.

Insects were few, other than Gnats and Deer Flies. Protective clothing kept the Deer Flies at bay. The only dragonfly species seen was the Halloween Pennant, and the only butterflies were Viceroy, White Peacock, and one Delaware Skipper.

Although no blooming orchids were spotted, there was lots of color. The Glades Morning Glories were abundant as were Winged Loosestrife, False Foxglove, Giant Dayflower, Coreopsis, Salt Marsh Mallow, Pale Meadow Beauty, Butterflyweed, and lots of Hypericum.

Friday, June 18: CREW Flint Pen Strand

A week's worth of rain did wonders for the marsh. Much of it is wet and the areas of water are much larger. Wildlife was taking advantage.

Wading birds enjoying the water were almost five dozen White Ibis and over a dozen Glossy Ibis plus Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, and a Wood Stork.

Smaller birds along the water edges were just Common Gallinules and Killdeer. Both Mottled Ducks and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were in the water, and Black-necked Stilts flew from one watery area to the next.

Red-winged Blackbirds, Boat-tailed Grackles, and Common Grackles were in the thick reeds and willows, and even a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes was low in the thicker vegetation over the marsh waters.

Early visitors between the pines and the marsh were two families of White-tailed Deer.

The one at the far left included one young stag, three does, and the one fawn in the foreground. All were surprisingly curious and advanced to get a better look, as long as I stood still. Eventually, the adults all snorted and the group retreated to the pines.

A second group with three does and two fawns were along the orange trail bordering the western edge of the marsh. The fawns were smaller than the one in the first group and were frisky and darting about as the adults slowly moved into the taller vegetation. The fawns quickly followed.

Frogs also enjoyed the new water and were calling all morning.

Most often heard were Oak Toads which had a consistent chorus at the north end of the marsh. Next were Pig Frogs followed by Southern Leopard Frogs, Florida Cricket Frogs, Green Treefrogs, and finally Greenhouse Frogs.

This was all in the morning well after sunrise. The sounds must be amazing there at night.

With the overcast skies, steady breeze, and relatively cool temperatures, insects other than annoying little flies were scarce. The only butterfly species seen were Palamedes Swallowtail and Barred Yellow, and the only dragonflies were Halloween Pennants, Eastern Pondhawks, Needham's Skimmers, and one Carolina Saddlebags. Fortunately, the flies were harmless -- no Deer Flies, Yellow Flies, or mosquitoes.

One of the more unusual sights was early in the morning along the southern edge of the west lake.

A family of Wild Turkeys strolled along the bank, There were two hens and nine poults. The adults stayed close to the taller vegetation but the poults would walk down to the water's edge, look at the water, and then turn and return to the higher ground. The group was aware of me but didn't seem to care and actually let me get quite close. Between the lakes, they turned north into the tall grasses while I continued straight. The group is in the photo below.

A different hen, by herself was on the orange trail to the west.