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March 2007 Skimmer Newsletter Southeast Volusia Audubon Society

March 2007 Skimmer Newsletter Southeast Volusia Audubon Society

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Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, Inc. Vol. 32 - No.6 March, 2007
March Speake
Sarah Johnson
T
HE SPEAKER at our March, 2007 meeting will beSarah Johnson, Assistant Regional Nongame Biologist with theFlorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Sarah hasa BS in Biology from University of Central Florida in Orlando.She is assigned to the Northeast Region, which covers St. JohnsCounty south to Indian River County, and is based in Ocala.She is involved in everything from Scrub Jay surveys to Gopher Tortoise Permitting and completed her first year with FWC lastSeptember.Sarah will be speaking on shorebird biology and conserva-tion and will explain Florida Fish and Wildlife’s new Beach Nesting Bird Monitoring Website. The website may be reachedatwww.myfwc.com/shorebirds/BNBand contains a databaseof nesting locations of shorebirds statewide (including somerooftop sites). She will be looking for volunteers to assist withmonitoring in our area so there will be an opportunity to participate with an interesting and important program. Comeand bring a friend. —Ken Gunn
Prez Sez
Tomoka Regional Science Fair.
F
OR THE FIFTH YEAR in a row the three Audubongroups in Volusia County partnered to provide judges and prizes for the Tomoka Regional Science Fair. It was held at theAdvanced Technology Center in Daytona Beach on the 20th of January, 2007. The judges included Dale Samler (West VolusiaAudubon), Caroline Russell (Halifax River Audubon) and KenGunn and Don Picard (Southeast Volusia Audubon). Welooked at twenty six junior level projects and seven senior level projects. The projects involved the environment, conservation,and alternative energy sources. Prizes included $100 for FirstPlace Senior and Junior projects and $50 for Second PlaceJunior and Senior projects. The Senior winners were: LeahSchecter, Spruce Creek High, Bioluminescence: MeasuringPollutants with Light; and Frank Slimak, Mainland High, AStudy of the Aquifer. The Junior winners were Blake Stacey,Deland Middle School, Does Windmill Blade Size affect Wind-mill Electricity Output? and Nicholas Hundley, HeritageMiddle School, Enhancing Solar Power. Congratulations tothese winners and to the many other exhibitors whose hardwork gives us hope for the future. In his Thank you note, BlakeStacey said:”I know that I, as well as others, are appreciative of your efforts to save and better our environment.” It sounds likehe understands that it is his inheritance that we are spendingand that he has a stake in how well we are doing.The Tomoka Science Fair is but one of the things we aredoing to help young people understand their place in the envi-ronment. For the second year in a row, we are providing $350worth of books in each of two elementary schools. The librar-ians choose the books from subjects related to environment andconservation and we pay for them. We are also providingAudubon Adventures kits for each of five classrooms in Edge-water and New Smyrna Beach. These are nearly $50 per kit, but are also part of our commitment to young people and their importance to the environment of the future. If you would liketo help sponsor any of these programs, your tax-deductibledonations are always welcome. Please send your check toSoutheast Volusia Audubon Society, PO Box 46, New SmyrnaBeach, FL 32169. Thank you in advance. —Don Picard
New Members
We welcome Joan B. Tanner & John Rivley.
On The Web
Places To Visit Until Our Site Is Up
W
E
A RE 
WORKING on our website which we hope tohave up and running by this summer. Meanwhile there are places to get the latest news concerning Audubon activities aswell as news on environmental issues that should be of concernto us all. here are some the The Skimmer finds helpful:
Florida Audubon
Planet Ark
http://www.planetark.com/ PlanetArkworkstoshowpeoplethemanywaystheycanreducetheir daytodayimpactontheenvironment-athome,atworkandinthecommunity.
Sierra Club
http://www.sierraclub.org/ TheSierraClub'smembersaremorethan750,000ofyourfriendsandneighbors.Inspiredbynature,weworktogethertoprotectour communitiesandtheplanet.TheClubisAmerica'soldest,largestandmostinfluentialgrassrootsenvironmentalorganization.
 
2
Conservation Notes
Wetlands Destruction
R
EFLECTIONS, THE FIRST OF THREE PROPOSEDswamp projects west of I-95 and south of SR-44, is seekingapproval from the St. Johns River Water Management DistrictGoverning Board on March 13-14.I received a certified letter on Feb. 15 from St. Johnswhich stated in part, “The staff of the St. Johns River Water Management District has completed its review of the applica-tion described below. Following some legal jargon the letter went on, “The District gives notice of its intent to issue a permit to the following applicant on March 13, 2007 .” Theletter named the applicant, gave a legal description of the project site and stated: “The ERP [Environmental ResourcePermit] application is for conceptual approval of an 877.4 acremixed-use planned development known as the Reflections.”Further on the letter stated that to receive a copy of theTechnical Staff Report (TSR) which “provides the staff’sanalysis of the application”, submit a request to the Director of Permit Data Services in Palatka. I tried that by telephone for two days.After struggling with the St., Johns’ bureaucracy intrying to get a copy of the staff report, I finally got an answer that the TSR was not available because it hadn’t been com- pleted.Is it strange that the District would publish a notice of itsintent to grant a permit, before its staff recommendation had been completed and made available to the public?The St. Johns Regulatory Committee will consider theReflections project at 10:00 AM March 13, in the Districtheadquarters at Palatka. The full Governing Board will prob-ably vote on the application sometime in their meeting that begins at 1:00 PM the same day, but the District could post- pone discussion until the Board meeting on March 14, which begins at 9:00 AM .Reflections is the smallest of three proposed filled-swampcities west of I-95, but is critical because approval might makeit more difficult to deny its larger neighbors. The 877.4 acre project borders the south side of the two lane dirt road exten-sion of SR-442 west of I-95. It would fill 77.6 acres of wetlandsand “preserve” the remaining 191.4 wetland acres according toa Corp. of Engineers permit application. Like “Restoration”,its larger neighbor just north of the dirt road, the Reflectionssite is flat and poorly drained.The Reflections site can be largely water-covered after heavy rains. It drains eastward through large culverts under I-95 into Little Cow Creek. From there, drainage flows southinto Turnbull Hummock and from there into the Indian RiveLagoon (IRL).Of special concern to Edgewater residents, the city’snewest wellfield lies along the south side of the narrow dirtroad, which no doubt will be widened and paved to accommo-date new development. According to a St. Johns map, theentire project site has excellent 8 to 12 inch recharge to theVolusia Floridan aquifer. The project seems bound to affectthe quality and quantity of potable water. It would affect thequality of the IRL and adversely affect wildlife andnative plants.Reflections lies about four miles west of down-town Edgewater. It and two more projects proposed to thenorth, plus Venetian Bay already being built north of SR-44,would comprise a huge “metropolis of former swamps”, dou- bling New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater populations. De-mands for services would increase dramatically with tax in-creases likely. Traffic congestion would become a nightmare.Most of the high and dry land in Volusia County hasalready been developed or is expensive. To build large projectsdevelopers resort to buying cheap swampy land. Laws protect-ing Florida wetlands have become no more than temporaryminor obstacles to well-funded large projects.If Audubon members and others have an opinion onReflections, they should make their views known to St. JohnsGoverning Board members prior to the March 13 meeting.Then on March 13, it would be very important to have largenumbers of people express their views on Reflections.Phone numbers for St. Johns Palatka headquarters are: 1-800-225-4181 or 1-800 451-7106 or 386-329-4500. The op-erator can provide phone numbers and e-mail addresses of Governing Board members. The operator can also transfer youto the office of the Director of Permit Data Services, extension4268. The Directors’ office can provide you with a copy of theTechnical Staff Report (TSR) on Reflections, permit no. 4-127-101779-1 for pick-up or by e-mail – whenever it is completed.I hope a large crowd appears in Palatka headquarters onMarch 13.
WISE BIRDS
Devastating killer tornadoes hit Florida on Christmas Dayand on Groundhog Day. Thus it was with some apprehensionthat we saw repeated news warnings of potential tornado condi-tions developing here on St. Valentines Day. The morning of Feb. 14 became bright and warm, increasing the likelihood of acold dry northern air mass colliding with our warm, humid air and spawning violent thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes.By afternoon skies had darkened with strong wind, driv-ing rain and thunder. We worried. Then we noticed two Red- bellied woodpeckers perched high on the trunk of our neigh- bor’s Washingtonian palm, taller than the neighbor’s two-storyhouse. The birds remained perched calmly despite driving windand rain, one in line above the other just below the fronds of theswaying tall palm.I commented to Catherine -- ”Wow! What a dumb placefor birds to perch in a storm when much worse may be com-ing.”Of course no tornadoes hit Central Florida, but one rippedinto the accursed City of New Orleans. Do some birds sense better than humans, what weather is coming? Their high perchavoided low-flying debris in a strong thunderstorm, but couldhave been fatal in a tornado—Lee Bidgood
The Skimmer March, 2007
The use of solar energy has not been opened upbecause the oil industry does not own the sun.
~Ralph Nader, quoted in Linda Botts, ed.,
L ooseTal
,1980
 
The Skimmer March, 2007
3
Native & Nice
Chionanthus pygmaeus
 
A
T LEAST TWO YEARS AGO, at the behest of amaster Florida native plant gardener friend, I planted a pygmyfringetree (
Chionanthus pygmaeus
). His description made itirresistible: a small, graceful tree with spreading branches fullof fragrant, delicate white petals each spring that dangle like afringe.My fringetree has been a lesson in patience. Last year, thespindly seedling died back to the point of disappearing, only toresurrect itself with tentative new growth that gradually leafedout in full. Just within the last two weeks a few signature“fringes” began to appear.Already I’m anxious to see the pale yellow petals openinto their full, creamy-white glory. And late summer should bring clusters of purple olivelike fruits that attract birds.Although my tree has been a reluctant specimen, thedeciduous fringetree is usually trouble-free and easy to grow insandy, well-drained soil given full sun to light shade.Fringetrees are hardy as far north as the Panhandle. As Iwrite this column, we are threatened with an overnight freeze,so I’ve covered my fledgling fringetree. After waiting so long,I’m not taking any chances. —Donnadine Miller 
Feb.10FieldTripBirdList
CommonLoonPied-BilledGrebe AmericanWhitePelicanBrownPelicanDouble-crestedCormorant AnhingaGreatBlueHeronGreatEgretLittleBlueHeronTricoloredHeronGreenHeronWhiteIbisWoodStorkBlackVultureTurkeyVultureWoodDuckMottledDuckBlue-wingedTealHoodedMerganser Red-breastedMerganser Osprey
Bird Rescue Center 
Early Birds Get The Warm
T
HE UNUSUALLY WARM winter and intermittentspring has the birds twitterpated quite early. We had some baby birds come to us in January! In spite of the highlyadvertised tabu, I think someone has fooled Mother Nature.We took in a lot of Great Northern Gannets and Loons this“winter”. One Loon had been hit by a boat propeller. His neck was split open, with a two-inch gash in his esophagus. Hegurgled as he struggled for every breath. We held the esopha-gus together, and a device Doc PJ made, over his beak. Thisallowed for the anesthesia to be inhaled. Doc cleaned andstitched the esophagus and skin, and closed the wound. It took a while to put his neck back together; then as we finished, he just quit breathing and died.Doc quickly put a tube down the Loon’s throat, the other end inhis own mouth. I said a prayer as he breathed for the Loon untilhe could breathe on his own. Wow! He was back! We put himin a dark, warm, quiet cage for him to recover, doubtful that hewould. Two hours later, he was up pecking at the cage door!We placed some small fish in a dish of water in his cage, whichhe ate right away. The next day he was walking and eatingwell. By the third day he was ready for a flight cage. A miraclesuccess story!In the aftermath of the tornados that hit our area, we hadseveral owls and hawks come in. Most of them were stunnedand many had impact injuries. Fortunately, almost all were ableto be released. I just wonder how many were gone with thewind, never having a chance for treatment. —Phyllis Falk Lamborn
TheBirdRescueCentermeetsEVERYTHIRDTHURSDAYeachmonth-at7:00intheevening-TheSoutheastVolusiaHumaneSociety,1200SouthGlencoeRoad,NewSmyrnaBeach.
plamborn@cfl.rr.comorphone386-423-1434.
March Field Trip
Orlando Wetlands Park 
W
E'LL BE GOING to the Or-lando Wetlands Park on Sat., March10. OWP is a facility that removes ex-cess nutrients from treated wastewater  by filtering the water through many ponds. It offers good to excellent bird-ing for water birds year-round. We’llwalk all or part of the flat 2½ mile birding trail. Park is located at Christ-mas, Fl. off hwy 50 which is just aboutan hour's drive time from our meet-upspot. Rest rooms and picnic facilitiesare available at OWP. —Gail Domroski
From the Field
Stayed Local This Time
S
EVEN PEOPLE made for easycar-pooling and slow & easy was the pace on the field trip to Seminole Restand nearby birding sites.We had a quiet and peaceful walk through Seminole Rest and then mo-seyed up the road apiece to the observa-tion pier across from Goodrich's Restau-rant where we spotted quite a few water-fowl & wading birds.We finished around noon with anice walk through River Breeze Park.Gail especially enjoyed the residentgeese there.The birds were everywhere wewent . We spotted 49 species which is a pretty good count in one's own backyardso to speak. The weather was fine andthe company was good, as is usually thecase on these field trips.Maybe some more folks will joinus for next month's outing. —Gil Miller 
Feb.10FieldTripBirdListContinued
Killdeer WilletMarbledGodwitLaughingGullRing-billedGullGreatBlack-backedGullForster’sTernBlackSkimmer EurasianCollared-DoveMourningDoveBeltedKingfisher Red-belliedWoodpecker LoggerheadShrikeFishCrowTreeSwallowTuftedTitmouseCarolinaWren AmericanRobinGrayCatbirdNorthernMockingbirdEuropeanStarlingYellow-rumpedWarbler PalmWarbler CommonYellowthroatNorthernCardinalRed-wingedBlackbirdBoat-tailedGrackleHouseSparrow

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