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Manatee County Audubon Society

Volume M Number 4 December 2008
We are committed to protecting the environment in our community, our state and our country.
Black-crowned Night Heron

Look back
at our history
By Don Bansen, MCAS Historian
In 1969, there was a flap over an
abandoned Eagle’s nest on property
owned by Dr. W.D. Sugg. He wanted
to cut down the tree with the nest and
place the nest in the South Florida
Museum. Harry Bower, chairman of
the Manatee Audubon Eagle Commit-
tee, opposed the tree-cutting. But the
matter was settled when the U.S. Inte-
rior Department sent a representative
with the authority to display the nest Christmas Bird Count Coming Soon!
in the museum. When the tree came
down, there was a big surprise in the Join the Christmas Bird Count in the Bradenton Circle on Saturday
nest. It apparently had been aban- December 20 and you’re likely to see Hooded Merganzers
doned by Eagles, but it wasn’t empty. like this one, according to David Williamson, CBC Chairman. The
Instead, it had two 2-month-old Great Gulf Circle count is scheduled for Tuesday December 30. For more
Horned Owls. The owls were given information, see David’s report on page 4.
to Pam Stewart, who cared for wild
birds at the time, and the nest went to
the museum. Letter from President Steve Black
Pollution problems in Tampa Bay Our field trips are the best bargain in town
and Palma Sola Bay provoked much
concern and discussion in 1970, With money being tight now, one of the best bargains around is a Manatee Audubon field trip. We
which turned out to be a very busy do suggest that you contribute gas money to the driver if you ride in a car pool. But unlike many
year. Sanctuary signs were placed on other chapters, we don’t charge anyone anything to go on our trips. As the chairman of our field
Flamingo Cay, while bulldozers were trip committee, Connie Zack works very hard to provide trips you will enjoy. So we are all a bit
clearing out contested areas on Peri- concerned about the light turnouts we have had so far this year. We are also puzzled as to how
co Island. Manatee Audubon started anyone would pass up the chance to participate in one of the great outdoor adventures that these
a newsletter. And the Eagle Com- trips represent. So we would like to hear from you about this.
mittee ceased functioning formally,
although its members promised to We are also interested in knowing about any places you would like to go. Our field trips are pretty
maintain an unofficial watch. much set for this year, but we are starting already to think about next year, so send in any sugges-
tions you may have.
The 1970 Christmas Bird Count
reported 138 species, compared to The guides selected for our field trips are skilled in identifying birds. Very importantly, the guides
the 1969 total of 132. But the Eagle go to great lengths to make sure that everybody gets to see the birds. When we have inexperienced
population was decreasing - only one birders with us on the trips, we make sure they get extra attention. And there is a great field trip
young Eagle in five nests. tradition of sharing binoculars and birdscopes, so that everyone has a chance to see as many birds
as possible. So take advantage of these field trip bargains. Lucette and Bob Wombacher are lead-
ing a trip to the Carlton Reserve on December 6, as you can see from their page 4 report. Bob and
Nancy Dean are coordinating a Tampa Bay Circle field trip on January 14. Come on out and bring
a friend or two with you.

Felts “historian” to speak at December 18 meeting. Details Page 3.

Page 2

Work off Thanksgiving calories at Felts

By Tom Heitzman, Vice President
Our next work day at the Felts Audu-
bon Preserve is November 29, the Sat- Deans donate $500 and
Sightings urday after Thanksgiving. Come out
issue us a boardwalk challenge
and give us a hand and burn off some
at Felts of that pumpkin pie while helping im-
Bob and Nancy Dean announced at our Novem-
prove the property.
ber meeting that they are donating $500 for the
By Tami McNally, Secretary new boardwalk at Felts Audubon Preserve. And
Willing hands needed: We will have
We have now documented 121 bird a couple of projects going on that that’s just the beginning. The Deans also prom-
species at Felts Audubon Preserve. we could use your help. Roger Rob- ised to match up to $500 the boardwalk donations
Thank you to everyone for con- son, the bridge builder, is in need of that other chapter members make over the next
tinuing to report your sightings. some strong backs to help start plac- three months. So come on. Let’s take the Deans’
For the complete bird list, see our ing some of the concrete monuments challenge. We’re going to need $9,000 to com-
Manatee Audubon website at for the new boardwalk. We will have plete the 300-foot boardwalk. Yes, it is costing $30
www.manateeaudubon.org some carts and sleds but need some per foot for the boardwalk, even with free labor,
willing hands. so think about buying as many feet as you can af-
New sightings: ford. The boardwalk is being constructed through
Invasive plant removal: An easier areas that have not been accessible to visitors be-
Acadian Flycatcher job will be helping with invasive
Ruby-crowned Kinglet fore. Mail donations to Manatee Audubon, P.O.
plant removal. We will target one or Box 14550, Bradenton FL 34280-4550.
two species that can be hand pulled or --- Submitted by Barbara Singer
Interesting sightings: popped out with a small shovel. If we
Goldfinches get these invasive plants while they
Double-crested Cormorant are small, they will not be around to
Female Painted Bunting go to seed next year.
Two Northern Harriers were spot-
ted in the south pasture. Our new mower, pictured right, has
come in and is being put to good
use. If you see someone mowing, it
is most likely Fred Allen, who now
mows with a big smile on his face.
Having replaced our slow but reliable
old mower with a new one, Fred can
now do his volunteer mowing in half
the time. I am sure you will notice a
difference in how nice the paths and
parking areas are kept. We will also
be able to keep some of the more
invasive plants under better control
with the new mower.
Felts Audubon Preserve is Yellow jacket nest: As always there is a lot to do at the Felts Preserve. A new addition to the
located in Palmetto property is a large yellow jacket nest. These insects, which are a type of wasp, are as much at
4600 24th Avenue East home at the preserve as the birds that come to visit. The large nest, located in the ground, will
Corner of 24th Avenue East most likely be abandoned by the spring. The nest is well away from the path but can easily be
and 49th Street East observed from across the pond. To view, walk along the east side of the pond by the wildflower
(Experimental Farm Road). meadow. When you get to the first bench, look across the pond to the west. The nest is just on
the bank of the pond on the west side. As always, there’s lots to see and do at the preserve so
Open House come out and give us a hand and enjoy that extra piece of pie.
on First Saturday of the month
Forty butterfly species spotted at Felts
Work Day As a result of the spring 2008 Butterfly Count sponsored by NABA, the North America But-
on Last Saturday of the month terfly Association, 40 butterfly species have now been spotted and identified at Felt Audubon
Preserve. That is the latest count received from Don Stillwaugh of St. Petersburg. Seven new
species were added in 2008 including the Long-tailed Skipper and Fulvous Hairstreak. The list,
which was started in 2005 by sightings of Black and Palmedes Swallowtails by Fred Allen, is
available at Felts Open House days. ––Submitted by Jeanne Schlesinger.
Join us December 18 for program and party Page 3

Sixth grader to discuss history of Felts Upcoming Events

Saturday 12/6
By Steve Black, President Open House
We will have a special speaker at our December 18 meeting, rather than the movie men- Felts Audubon Preserve.
tioned in your annual brochure. The speaker will be Matthew Israel, a sixth grader at St. 8 a.m. to noon
Stephen’s Episcopal Elementary School in Bradenton and a budding historian. We met
Matthew when we went to his school at the request of two of the St. Stephen’s teachers, Saturday 12/6
Carrie Smith and Jeanne Bothsby, as part of our education program. Field trip to Carlton Reserve
Depart 7 a.m. Main Post Office or
We gave presentations to the classes as well as provided Audubon Adventures. In addi- meet at 7:45 a.m. at reserve parking
lot. Lucette and Bob Wombacher,
tion, we provided a Sibley Guide to Birds for both classes to share as well as Bird Iden-
cell (813) 760-4959
tifying CDs for bird identification. There were also four field trips to Felts. Because of
or home (941) 776-8424
these activities, Matthew has become an avid birder and chose to write an article on Felts
Audubon Preserve for a presentation at his school’s history fair.
Thursday 12/18
Monthly meeting
Matthew has done a lot of research on his Felts project, and he has interviewed a num- and holiday party 7:30 p.m.
ber of people about Felts including Gary Felts, Bob and Nancy Dean, Nick Baden as well First Presbyterian Church, 1402
as your president. It is very gratifying to see our efforts pay off. Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton

Saturday 12/20
Christmas Bird Count
Bradenton Circle
Tuesday 12/30
Christmas Bird Count
Gulf Circle
David Williamson

Saturday 12/27
Workday at Felts Audubon Preserve
8 a.m. to noon. Everyone invited.

Birder volunteers
FISH Clean-up: More than 75 Bay Buddies participated in invasive plant and needed to help Deans
trash removal at the FISH Preserve in Cortez on November 8, as part of our third To-
Quite a few individuals have reserved
getherGreen Volunteer Event sponsored by National Audubon with a generous grant space for the 2009 Bird Watching
from Toyota. The event was a partnership effort between the Sarasota Bay Estuary Course. Principal instructors Nancy
Program, the Bay Buddies, Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH), Sarasota and Bob Dean will teach the class-
Audubon and Manatee Audubon. Kids of all ages helped restore 25 of the 100 pre- room portion of this course. Classes
serve acres located on Sarasota Bay. After three hours of hard work, FISH had less occur on Mondays and Thursdays
trash and fewer invasive plants. And the kids had snacks, drinks and prizes. (January 19, 22, 26 and 29) from
--Submitted by Barbara Singer 6:30 until 8:45 p.m. at the Synovus
Bank community room. The Synovus
Bank is located at 2520 Manatee
We spot a Bald Eagle at Celery Fields and alert SAS Avenue West in Bradenton. Help is
needed, however, for the two 7-hour
By Dee Hanny, field trip leader to Celery Fields field trips for this course. Field trips
Nine persons took part in the November 8 trip to the Celery Fields, where we sighted start from Bradenton’s main post
36 species. The most notable were a Sedge Wren and a Marsh Wren. We shared the area office at 7 a.m. on the two succes-
with a Sarasota Audubon group of about 30-40 persons. Their club has a field trip to this sive Saturdays (January 24 and 31).
locaton the first Saturday of each month. An unusual happening took place while we were Experienced birders are asked to call
Nancy Dean at 792-9235 to volun-
there. The SAS group split into three seperate groups and went to different areas. One
teer as a field instructor. Also, it is
group was along the Palmer Boulevard marsh area looking into the reeds when an adult not too late to reserve a seat for this
Bald Eagle landed right above their heads on an electric light structure. Since they were course. The fee for participation is
concentrating on the reed area, no one in their group realized the Eagle was over their $35 for MCAS members and $50 for
heads. Our group was near the gazebo, about 75 yards from their group. After several others. The $50 fee for non-members
tries, we finally were able to make them aware of the Eagle. Six persons in our group also includes the first year of MCAS mem-
went to Pinecraft Park, but only five species, all flyovers, were seen. A special thanks to bership. Again, call Nancy Dean at
Barry Rossheim of Venice for joining us and sharing his scope and his expertise. 941-792-9235 to join the 2009 course.
Page 4

You are cordially invited to count birds!

By David Williamson, CBC Chair
Members and guests are invited to participate in Audubon’s longest-running tradition, the annual
Carlton Reserve Christmas Bird Count (CBC), held in Bradenton on Saturday December 20 and on Anna Maria
Island on Tuesday December 30. Both counts are open to everyone and you may participate in one
field trip set or both counts. This is one of the best learning opportunities for beginning birders and those friends
for December 6 and family members who aren’t (yet) birders.

By Lucette Wombacher In each circle we will complete a census of the birds

For our December 6 field trip to found in the 15-mile diameter circle. Many teams
Carlton Reserve, I have been in will congregate on the morning of the event and can-
contact with Charlie Sample of vas their assigned area along with an experienced
Venice Audubon, and he has vol- birder who will lead them.
unteered to lead our group into
areas of the reserve not available This event was first brought to Manatee County all
to the general public. It would be
the way back in 1906 as 76 birds were counted on
a good trip for people who do not
want to do a lot of walking, since December 28 of that year. Those results along with
we will drive to the various view- others from 1900 to the present are available at
ing areas. Also, since it is so far Snowy Plovers, like this one, will hopefully be seen
Audubon’s website: www.audubon.org/bird/cbc.
south, we will leave the Braden- on the Gulf Circle, but not usually in great numbers. Contact David Williamson at his email address:
ton Main Post Office at 7 a.m., --Photo by David Williamson david@localbirder.com if you want to help.
so we can arrive at the Reserve
by 7:45 a.m. Those who live Call now to register for March trip to Lake Apopka and Zellwood
south may prefer to meet us at By Arlene Flisik, Vice President
the Carlton Reserve parking lot The March 7-8 overnight field trip to Lake Apopka, Emeralda Marsh and vicinity is getting closer,
at 7:45 a.m. Please call my cell
and some members already have phoned me about taking part. You may know the area better as
phone (813) 760-4959 for more
information or to let us know you
the Zellwood fields, where farms used to be flooded in the late summer, attracting zillions of shore-
are coming. You can also leave birds. That ended because agriculture pollution was ruining Lake Apopka. The state bought the
a message on our home phone land and began restoration, but had a setback when pesticide residue leached out of the ground and
(941) 776-8424. killed a lot of fish-eating birds. That problem was corrected and the area now gets Christmas Bird
Counts of over 170 species and many days with over 40,000 individual birds. There are large wet-
lands but also other habitats in the area, so we will see a lot of diversity in our visit. We will do this
trip by carpool. Contact me by phone at 746-1991 to get on the list. Please register by January 31.

Send your items for The Night Heron to newsletter editor Molly McCartney
at msmccartney@sprintmail.com or call 778-3228

Manatee County Audubon Society

PO Box 14550
Bradenton FL 34280-4550

Non-Profit Org.
U.S. Postage
Permit #970

December 2008 Newsletter