The Audubon Observer, June 2022
HELP SAVE A PIECE OF NATURAL FLORIDA
Our chapter is supporting the North Florida Land Trust and the City of Jacksonville’s Parks and Recreation Department in helping to raise funds to preserve a small (4.85 acre) parcel of land that is adjacent to the City's Ferngully Preserve in the Mandarin area. Ferngully is an undeveloped tract of land comprised mostly of wetlands and is habitat for several threatened and endangered species, including Wood Storks and possibly the Southeastern Fox Squirrel, Striped Newts, and several rare plant species.
This property is up for sale and is in danger of being developed, which would cause significant environmental damage to the wetlands and further reduce suitable habitat for the birds, plants, and other wildlife species that rely on it for survival. If the North Florida Land Trust’s fundraising campaign is successful, the property would be added to the Ferngully Preserve and would be kept in its natural state, protected from development.
In addition, Ferngully Preserve is adjacent to a conservation property known as the Grandy Preserve that has been owned by our chapter since the early 1990s, so preserving this extra parcel will ensure that the entire wetlands area (approximately 65 acres altogether) will continue to provide vital ecosystem services like “protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters, and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods.” “Wetlands [also] store carbon within their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Thus, wetlands help to moderate global climate conditions.” (Quotes are from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website.)
Donations for the Ferngully Addition are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law, and if the acquisition falls through, contributions will be returned to the original donors. North Florida Land Trust is accepting donations at this link, or you can send a check to North Florida Land Trust, 843 W Monroe Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202. Be sure to write “Ferngully Addition” on the memo line of your check to ensure the funds are allocated to this campaign.
Please consider giving generously to help preserve this piece of natural Florida!
Everyone knows there’s no good birding in our area over the summer, right? WRONG!! Back in 2004, a Gainesville birder named Becky Enneis decided it was a shame that many birders aren’t willing to brave the heat, bugs, and humidity of the summer months, so she started the June Challenge, a friendly competition designed to get birders out and about in their home county to see how many birds they can spot during the month of June. The competition caught on and has grown over the years, with a total of 90 submissions from 23 Florida counties in 2021, and even some from out of state (Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, and North Carolina).
The whole point of the competition is to have fun while trying to see as many different bird species as possible in your home county. And “see” is the operative word here: one of the main rules (and there are only a few) is that the bird must be seen in order to count toward your June Challenge species total; “heard” birds don’t count. The challenge encourages you to hone your bird ID skills and explore the great birding spots in your own home county.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your June Challenge:
This year the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (a project of the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida) is overseeing the June Challenge competition, and by the end of June you will be able to upload your results to the June Challenge website. Once the final results are in, we’ll send a cool prize to each of the winners in our three-county coverage area of Clay, Duval, and Nassau counties in Northeast Florida.
It’s a great way to extend the fun and keep on birding into the summer! Learn more at floridabirdingtrail.com/june-challenge/.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR UNF/COJ HEAT MAPPING PROJECT
The University of North Florida and the City of Jacksonville are collaborating this summer on a project to identify heat islands in Jacksonville’s urban core, where reduced tree canopy and excess concrete and asphalt can raise the temperature up to 20 degrees hotter than other neighborhoods. As temperatures rise during the summer, these overheated areas can result in illness and even death among residents in those neighborhoods. This effect is only predicted to get worse as the climate warms, so identifying where these heat islands are located is a first step in addressing this dire risk to human health in our community.
Funded in part by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the local project is being led by UNF biology assistant professor Dr. Adam Rosenblatt in cooperation with the City of Jacksonville’s Chief Resilience Officer Anne Coglianese. Duval County residents are needed to participate in the study as “volunteer citizen scientists” who will travel their neighborhoods in the morning, afternoon, and evening on one of the hottest days in the summer using heat sensors mounted on their own cars or bikes. The sensors will record the temperature, humidity, time, and volunteers’ locations throughout the day, and the resulting maps will allow Jacksonville to develop policies and projects that address heat-related health issues and lower the risk of heat stress.
In addition to human benefits, more urban green spaces with extensive tree canopy will help support a greater diversity of bird species, according to this 2019 study published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The study focused on New York City, but its conclusions can be applied to any urban area. Since Northeast Florida lies in the Atlantic Flyway (the second-largest bird migration path in North America), increasing green spaces in our urban core can help migrating birds survive their perilous twice-a-year journey, and provide significant survival benefits for bees, bats, and other wildlife as well.
Each volunteer will be compensated for their time in the range of $50 to $75, with the final amount depending on how many volunteers end up participating in the study. Click here to learn more and sign up to volunteer, or reach out to email@example.com with any additional questions.
SUMMERTIME VIRTUAL PHOTO SHARING
We know that our members have seen some fabulous birds in the past year, and we would love to share them, so we’d like to invite everyone to participate in our annual summertime Virtual Photo Sharing project.
Have you photographed any interesting birds within the last 12 months? If so, we want to incorporate them into a slide show of our members' best bird photos captured since June of 2021. Here's how to participate:
We'll compile them all into a video slide show that will showcase our members' photographic talents! (Check out our 2021 "Best of Us" Virtual Photo Sharing video to see what our members contributed last year.)
The deadline for submitting your photos for inclusion in our Virtual Photo Sharing project will be Wednesday, June 30, 2022, and we'll have the video slide show ready for your viewing pleasure by July 31st. If you haven't already included your personal watermark on your photos, we'll add your name to each photo to make sure all photos are properly credited to the photographer.
We look forward to seeing (and sharing) your awesome photos! Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about how to participate.
Our chapter is on summer break!
During the months of June, July, and August, we are taking our annual hiatus from our regular schedule of birding outings and other activities, but chapter leaders will still be working hard to plan activities for our upcoming 2022/2023 season starting in September.
Over the summer we’ll be planning fall field trips to great birding spots in Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties, and in September we will once again offer access to our Crosby Sanctuary conservation property in Orange Park from 8 am until noon on the third and fourth Saturdays of every month (except December). We’ll also be reaching out to confirm fascinating speakers for our monthly program series starting in September, some of which will be in person and some virtual, depending on speakers' availability and preferences.
We will also use the summer months to continue to work with our Lights Out Northeast Florida partners the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens and St. Johns County Audubon Society to plan our volunteer-driven data collection efforts and public awareness campaign for the fall 2022 migration season starting September 15.
If you’re not a member of Audubon, look for our membership campaign in September as well. (Not sure of your membership status? Please feel free to reach out to our Membership Director Christine Lucas at email@example.com.)
Hope you have a wonderful, relaxing summer. We look forward to seeing you in the fall!
All content by Carol Bailey-White unless otherwise noted.
Duval Audubon Society, Inc.