Spring has Sprung on Skidaway

Courtesy of Skidaway Audubon

Springtime has been full of surprises for Skidaway Audubon’s many volunteers, underscoring the never-ending wonder of nature.

  • Egg-citing News - This year’s Diamondback Turtle Rescue Project is off to an egg-cellent start. A total of 806 turtle eggs were rescued from the sand traps in May and were placed in Audubon’s protected hatchery. This is 207 more than the same time last year. In addition, four new volunteers completed training. Look for the light blue Volunteer Flags on the rescue team golf carts. All team members appreciate the positive responses they are receiving from the golfers as they conduct their turtle egg searches.
  • Boo Birds - When the bluebirds began their second brood of the season, Audubon’s birdhouse monitors made an interesting discovery…two ghost-white bluebirds! One was discovered in a nest box on Palmetto, and the other was in a nest box on Plantation. After much research, it was determined they are rare leucistic bluebirds. It is a genetic condition causing loss of pigmentation in the feathers. To view photos of this surprising find, visit the newly launched Bird Trail Travels website (www.birdtrailtravels.shutterfly.com). The site is part of an effort to improve outreach to students and others interested in learning more. It includes interesting articles, photos, videos, and stories from nest box monitors. The monitors also reported that a birdhouse on the front 9 of Oakridge had nine bluebird eggs. Bluebirds usually lay four-to-six eggs per nest. Eight of the nine birds hatched and fledged successfully. Also, in a Palmetto nest, a brown-headed nuthatch had a rare second brood. Nuthatches usually nest only once in a season.
  • Butterflies Abound - Three pollinator gardens have now been planted on Palmetto holes 3, 9, and 10. The garden on hole #9 is the biggest, with 39 milkweed, 27 salvias, and 27 lantana plants. Pine straw has been added at all three gardens. To date, they have not been impacted by deer and have attracted a number of butterflies. Signage will be installed shortly. Volunteers will oversee the gardens during the summer. It is hoped that additional locations for monarch butterfly gardens can be found.
  • Tallow Trees - A crew of dedicated volunteers recently took down a large tallow seed tree near the 9th hole on Palmetto. Finding and removing a seed tree is a significant accomplishment due to its massive propagation abilities. Fourteen smaller tallows were removed from residential properties on Cotton Crossing, Delegal Road, and Oak Glade Court. All the trees removed were the result of inspections made at the homeowner’s request. Their vigilance is appreciated if this invasive tree, which destroys the natural habitat, is to be eradicated.
  • Bird Cam - The two osprey chicks born in April are growing fast, feeding on lots of fish, mice, and the “catch of the day.” The active family has garnered a significant fan base, with more than 8,000 followers on Facebook, including viewers from around the world. Last month, a viewer wrote to say how much they enjoyed watching the osprey family and the beautiful scenery in the background, while in lockdown in the United Kingdom. Visit  www.landingsbirdcam.com and see what’s on the menu at “Chez Osprey”.
  • Sparrow Field - The defunct composting structure was removed, and a paw paw tree was moved into that spot to give it more sun. Plant and berm maintenance has been the primary focus for the hardworking, new and returning volunteers.
  • Successful Fundraiser - Audubon’s auction of wildlife-themed yard art held in May raised more than $3,200. The proceeds will help fund Audubon’s Diamondback Turtle Rescue Program, the Dave Scott Bluebird Trail, bat houses to help reduce mosquito populations, Sparrow Field, and the newest initiative, the Monarch Butterfly Trail. The online bidding was a success, especially with some very generous winners giving more than they bid, and extremely kind residents who made donations without winning anything. Five large bats and four small bats still are available and would make a great addition to Halloween displays. If interested, visit skidawayaudubon.org and make an offer!
  • Education and Enhancement - Audubon acquired a picnic table that has been installed at Sunset Park along with 15 interpretive signs describing the variety of wildlife on the island, which will be installed alongside paths abutting natural areas.
  • Bat Abodes - Moving and installation of new bat houses is on hold due to the need for social distancing at this time. Bat project coordinators hope to be able to put bat houses in new locations with proper sun exposure in the near future.

   Membership in Skidaway Audubon is just $35 a year, available through Friends of Skidaway Audubon. To join, or for more details, visit skidawayaudubon.org. For more information, email friendsofskidawayaudubon@gmail.com.

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit landings.org to read the original article.