Audubon Programs Underway
It’s springtime, and Mother Nature has a long to-do list for Skidaway Audubon volunteers. There are gardens to tend, turtle eggs to rescue, baby birds to count, and much more!
May 18-24 - Giant wooden butterflies, bluebirds, bats, and turtles, all locally crafted, and perfect for every garden, will be auctioned online (skidawayaudubon.org) to raise funds for Skidaway Audubon’s many island-wide environmental initiatives. Bidding begins at 10 a.m. on May 18 and ends at 5 p.m. on May 24. The yard art pieces were to be part of the festivities at Audubon’s annual golf tournament that was cancelled due to the pandemic. Please visit www.skidawayaudubon.org/yard-art-auction and help continue essential environmental projects on Skidaway Island.
Turtle Time - Just in time for Mothers Day, Diamondback Terrapin moms have begun to come in and lay eggs in the golf course sand traps. To protect the eggs from predators, volunteers are being trained to collect the eggs for transfer to the protected hatchery on the island, where they will incubate for about 60 days.
Bird Cam - The Osprey pair produced two healthy chicks in April. A third egg was laid and hatched but as predicted, that one did not survive. This is not unusual, given that all eggs were not laid at the same time. Watch the little ones grow at www.landingsbirdcam.com.
Weather Station Project - Precipitation varied widely among the five stations in February. It appears some locations in The Landings received twice the precipitation of other areas. This data was presented to the TLA Strategic Water Committee. Additional sites for weather stations are being sought.
Sparrow Field - Big improvements have been made at Sparrow Field. Signs were installed at both ends of the reclaimed walking trail that borders the edge of the field. The trail had been destroyed when the field was used as a post-hurricane staging area for tree debris. The signs acknowledge the project supporters, including Landlovers and Zipperer and Co. Response has been favorable, with a notable increase in foot traffic. In addition, six new volunteers helped with planting, weeding, and putting down pine straw in the pollinator garden. Social distancing protocols are being observed.
Bat Houses - Bat project coordinators are considering planting fragrant, flowering plants near the bat houses, to attract bats to the bat abodes. Only one bat house so far is believed to be occupied. Moving and installation of new bat houses is on hold due to the need for social distancing at this time.
Bird Trail - There has been a flurry of activity along the Dave Scott Bluebird Trail with the start of the nesting season. Volunteer monitors are out weekly, checking the nest boxes along the golf courses and finding lots of eggs and baby chicks. The majority of the more than 200 nest boxes are active. Monitors also have identified houses, posts, and baffles that will need replacement in the fall. Volunteers installed birdhouses with smaller entry holes to provide safe nesting for smaller songbirds. There were six nuthatch nests last year and 21 this year. The chickadee nest count last year was four, and this year the count is up to 12. Outreach activities this month include providing 140 kindergarteners with a “virtual bluebird trail” experience. The children are learning about bluebirds, the importance of data gathering, and the history of Skidaway’s bluebird trail. Pictures and videos of a bluebird family, from nest creation to fledging baby birds, are being sent to the students.
Butterfly Trail - Skidaway Audubon volunteers planted two butterfly gardens on Palmetto Golf Course, on holes #3 and #10. A third garden will be created on hole #9 after the soil is amended. To date, Skidaway Audubon has supplied and installed 48 milkweed plants, 33 lantana, and 34 salvia. Landings Club crew will make sure the plants are watered and deer repellent applied. They also will add pine straw to the beds. It will be an attractive space when the plants fill in. Signage will be added to the gardens upon completion. Skidaway Audubon will monitor the gardens for butterfly activity.
Sustainability - As an Audubon International certified golf community, The Landings must protect the environment while following sound course maintenance practices. The Landings Club (TLC) uses technology year-round to determine where shade undermines the ability to maintain turf. Whenever possible, trees are trimmed rather than removed. At the recommendation of course maintenance staff and after onsite reviews, TLC’s tree subcommittee approved the removal of one oak and one magnolia producing excessive shade on Palmetto #16 green, and three oak trees encroaching on range surfaces at Plantation.
Tallow Trees - Efforts to fell invasive tallow trees were suspended during the nesting season. However, 183 saplings too small to hold any nests were removed, mostly off McWhorter Drive, along with 60 off Dame Kathryn Drive, and 45 off OSCA Road. This brings the cumulative total to 51,568 tallows removed.
Mrs. Osprey watches over her two little chicks in this screenshot from landingsbirdcam.com.
This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website. Visit landings.org to read the original article. https://landings.org/news/2020/05/06/audubon%C2%A0programs-underway%C2%A0