Nature Notes for May 22, 2010

I am so proud of the work my friend Michelle, along with some other bird lovers, have done in Siesta Key to protect the endangered snowy plover.  You can read about it by following this link: http://pelicanpress.org/content/2115_1.php.  She emailed me today that there are 3 hatchlings now.  Oh, how I’m praying they survive.  So far they haven’t on Lido this year; they didn’t on either Key last year.  I’ll be sure to give an update. 

Oil has now reached Bayou La Batre AL, lapping at it’s shores.  That’s way too close to home, although anywhere along the Gulf Coast is too close to home for oil to be coming ashore.  Follow this link to Gulf Shores.com which provides daily updates on the oil slick:  http://www.gulfshores.com/issues/

I don’t even have the words to express my sadness over this.  Here’s some information I found about cleaning the wetlands, or rather, not cleaning them:  http://blog.al.com/live/2010/05/cleaning_oil-soaked_wetlands_m.html

The love bugs and dragonflies are in full force here in Sarasota on Lido Key.  I noticed the dragonflies were thick in the air early in the morning and then after sunset.  I hope they’re eating the love bugs; they’re a huge nusiance.  Here’s an article from Floridatoday.com about the invasion: http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100522/NEWS01/5220311/1006/Love+bug+invasion+leaves+a+mess.  Check out what I’ve written previously about them: https://lifealongthegulfcoast.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/love-bugs-and-damsel-flies/

This afternoon a fish crow, one of many scoping out the little birds around the condo, attacked a juvenile dove and pulled it’s tail feathers out.  The little dove hid under the bushes by our patio door and slowly walked along the building to a thicker group of bushes.  I lost sight of him there.  I think the crows did, too.  Hope it survives.

Awesome sunset:

Lido Key Sunset

Snowy Plovers on Siesta Key

“The Snowy Plover is listed as a threatened species on the Florida Endangered Species List.  Their numbers are now down to less than 60 pairs along the southwest coast of Florida.  Consequently, each nest is critically important to saving the species in the region.”*

On Siesta Key there are 4 areas roped off as nesting or potential nesting spots.  It is so important that visitors to our beach, as well as residents, heed the posted signs and stay away from the nesting sites.

Snowy Plovers are a small shorebird the color of our Siesta Key sand.  These birds do have an incomplete dark band across the breast an a slim, dark, pointed bill.  They are precious to watch and scoot fairly quickly. 

The nest of the Snowy Plover is either a natural or scraped depression in the sand.  It may have shell fragments or some vegetation inside but the nests I’ve seen are simply little scraped areas large enough for a few eggs and the bird to sit on top of.  They’re very hard to locate but the trained eye can find them.  You can also miss the nest with the bird sitting on top because they blend into the sand so well.  This being said, you see it is important that these areas be roped off to keep people from accidentally damaging them.

The 4 roped areas are north of the public beach.  The northern most area has a nest with eggs, others have scrapes.  Please respect these areas.

One preditor of the Snowy Plover is the dog.  Please don’t bring your dogs onto the beach.  “What…,” (you’re now saying to yourself) “why not…others do?”  Well, it is against the law and it is posted at the entrance to the beaches.  Those folks with dogs either haven’t gotten caught (total disrespect for our laws) or have but just don’t care, thinking it’s more important for the dog to romp on the beach.  Well, there is a fine imposed if you do get caught.  Personally, I’d rather spend my money on kayak rentals for the family or dinner out.  Unleashed, even little Fido is tough enough to chase after a bird, or scout around to find the eggs.   Leashed…well, its still against the law.  Please walk Fido and Thor on the sidewalk.

*There are laws in Florida which protect Snowy Plovers: 

68A-27.004 (1)(a), Designation of Threatened Species: Prohibitions;Permits;

68A-4.001 (1) General Provisions; and

68A-13.002 (1) the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

*this information came from an email.  I believe it originally came from Sarasota County Parks and Recreation.  For more info about the nesting snowy plovers you can call Jerris Foote 941-232-6508 or leave a comment for me and I’ll get back to you with answers to your questions.