Thursday, April 14, 2022

Nature Journal - March 2022

March was another month full of birdies and flowers, and was also the start of the 2022 sea turtle season! 

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

        I decided to swing by this refuge after survey one morning (our atvs are stored at the PINWR ranger station), and I'm so glad I did.  Just a short walk into Centennial Trail, I was greeted by a mass of wading birds feeding in the lagoon.  Herons, egrets, spoonbills, cormorants, and a pretty white pelican made a cacophony of squawks among the mangroves, and I literally felt like I was in Jurassic Park.  This 5400 acre refuge is a special landmark as it is the first national wildlife refuge in the country!  

Ancestral land of the Seminole and Ais people.

Turkey Creek Sanctuary

        I went on an evening hike through Turkey Creek in search of sky lupine (which I found!), but I always love these trails for their lush oak hammock canopies and scrubby settings.  My friend found a sky lupine blooming on the Sand Pine trail, and I went a week later and caught it just before it had fully fruited!

        This sanctuary is another property in Brevard's EEL program, encompassing a tiny 130 acres of hammocks and pine scrubs.  It's small, but it's a nice spot for an easy hike, and they have an awesome nature center with interpretive exhibits and education programs.

Ancestral land of the Seminole and Ais people.

Helen and Allan Cruickshank Sanctuary

            Well, this place is so good I had to go again this month!  This time I took my dear friend Nancy who had never explored the scrubs or met a Florida scrub jay, so obvi I had to give her an elaborate tour.  She was blessed by several scrub jays along the way!

Ancestral land of the Seminole and Ais people.

Saw a northern flicker (!) and red-bellied woodpecker setting up its nest cavity

Sea Turtle Surveys

        My 8th season of turtle work started off with a bang, with the earliest leatherback nest EVER recorded in Indian River County on February 22nd!  Since then it's been a steady flow of leathy nests, birds, horseshoe crabs, and a few unfortunate but expected strandings.  We also had a super early loggerhead nest in Jupiter this month, so I am nervous for the craziness these turtles will bring this season 😅

All research conducted under FWC permit MTP-22-261 on ancestral land of the Seminole and Ais people.

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