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Archives - March 2012

March 30, 2012

Delicate balance of birds nesting on Florida shores requires beachgoers to be aware

OystercatcherWith nesting season under way for shorebirds like the snowy plover, black skimmer and American oystercatcher, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) asks beachgoers to take care not to disturb their nests. Well-informed, courteous beachgoers can provide needed relief to these stressed species.

The snowy plover, for example, nests along Gulf Coast beaches through August, and its population has shrunk to as few as 200 pairs in this state. Increased human activity and development on coastal barrier island beaches are among the key reasons that snowy plovers and other beach-nesting species are listed as threatened or endangered. Shorebird nesting continues through August.

"By recognizing the warning signs that you have entered an area of beach where shorebird nesting is taking place, you can save chicks and eggs from a needless death," said Nancy Douglass, who works on shorebird conservation at the FWC. "If you notice birds suddenly stand up, become agitated or fly about at your approach, you are likely entering a nesting site."

Above the high-tide mark, snowy plovers and other species, such as Wilson's plovers and least terns, lay well-camouflaged eggs in shallow depressions on the sand. This behavior makes the eggs nearly invisible to predators. Unfortunately, the camouflage effect also makes these eggs nearly invisible to the untrained human eye.

Further complicating the issue of shorebird conservation: Any disturbance by people, pets or vehicles can cause shorebirds to temporarily or permanently abandon their nests, resulting in the death of young chicks or the destruction of the eggs by predators. Once shorebird parents are frightened from the nest, exposed chicks or eggs can succumb to the heat of the Florida summer sun in as little as five minutes, and predation by gulls and crows increases significantly when parents are forced to leave, even for a few moments.

Here are some simple things you can do to help nesting shorebirds:

  • Keep your distance. If birds become agitated or leave their nests, you are too close! A general rule is to stay at least 300 feet from a nest.
  • Respect posted areas. Some shorebird nesting areas are posted with "symbolic fencing," which consists of signs on posts connected by twine marked with flagging tape. Avoid marked nesting areas and cross only at designated pathways. These posted beach areas may shift during the nesting season, depending on where the birds have chosen to lay eggs at any given time.
  • Never intentionally force birds to fly. When birds are chased or disturbed, they use energy they need for nesting and migration.
  • Keep pets away from nesting areas. Even well-behaved pets can be perceived as a threat. If you take pets to the beach, keep them leashed and away from nesting areas.
  • Keep the beach clean and do not feed wildlife. Food scraps attract predators such as raccoons, gulls and crows to our beaches. Litter can entangle birds, sea turtles and other wildlife.
  • Spread the word. If you see people disturbing nesting birds, gently let them know how their actions may hurt the birds' survival. If they continue to disturb nesting birds, please report their activities to the FWC's Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on your cell phone or by texting Tip@MyFWC.com.

Because many Florida shorebirds are listed as threatened or endangered, it is a violation of state and federal laws to harass or take any endangered or threatened birds, their eggs or young.
To learn more, download the "Share the Beach with Beach-Nesting Birds" brochure from the "Living with Wildlife" area at MyFWC.com/Wildlife. Or check out the Florida Shorebird Alliance at www.flshorebirdalliance.org. 

Posted by Forgotten Coast Community Calendar - 03/30/12, 11:25 AM

March 27, 2012

More Local Birds

QF-4Had a fly-by today of a couple of QF-4's out of Tyndall Air Force Base. Boy, you cannot sneak up on anybody in one of those, they are LOUD.  QF-4's are modified F-4's that can be flown as drones (no pilot).  They use them for target practice over the Gulf.  If you are ever going through Tyndall on the way to Panama City, and they stop the traffic, it is usually to let one of these take off or land.

Posted by Forgotten Coast Community Calendar - 03/27/12, 10:43 AM

March 26, 2012

Swallow-Tailed Kites are Back

Male Swallow-Tailed KiteEvery year we are visited by Swallow-tailed kites.  They usually spend the fall and winter in South America and return here to nest.  They are a common site in the Box R area between Apalachicola and Port St. Joe.  I saw a pair of them today.  The male was doing all sorts of acrobatics around this particular tree.  Mating KitesWhen he landed on a branch, I could see the female.  They "danced" in the branches for a while, then the female took off.

Posted by Vince Bishop - 03/26/12, 04:35 PM

March 22, 2012

Fishing Report for 3/22/12

From the News Herald

Freshwater:

Lake Wimico is hot with bass fishermen. Bass tournaments lately have been producing large stringers. The shellcrackers should be bedding on the full moon of April, and if they didn’t on the last full moon of March. Lake Wimico also has been on fire with bream catches. Most anglers are using worms and spinner baits. Bream are biting on worms and crickets and they are everywhere. 

Inshore:

St. Joe Bay is coming back to life. Good flounder reports have been coming from Black’s Island and around the bomb holes. Surf fishing is producing nice whiting and all you want to catch. Spanish mackerel are at the Eagle Harbor area and out in the open water and along the Gulf side of Cape San Blas also. Use mackerel trees or Got-cha plugs trolled behind spoons to improve your chances. No cobia have yet been weighed in Gulf County, but are expected this week.

Offshore:

Fishermen from boats are reporting a few cobias being caught. It’s still a little early but the month of April should be hot for not only cobia but pompano as well.



Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/fish-101335-march-report.html#ixzz1pqfCgZ9j

Posted by Vince Bishop - 03/22/12, 08:33 AM

March 21, 2012

Eagle in Flight

Eagle in FlightSaw this juvenile Bald Eagle in a tree off of US 98 in the old burn area between C-30 and Apalachicola.

Posted by Vince Bishop - 03/21/12, 01:51 PM

March 07, 2012

SOUTHERLAND INTRODUCES GULF COUNTY BEACH NOURISHMENT REIMBURSEMENT BILL

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Steve Southerland, II today introduced H.R. 4150 to restore federal flood insurance and disaster assistance eligibility for Gulf County, Florida. By removing Cape San Blas and Indian Peninsula from the Coastal Barrier Resources System, Southerland’s bill would enable county residents and small businesses to obtain FEMA reimbursement funds for beach nourishment and road construction in the wake of damaging natural disasters.

“I’ve worked closely with Gulf County officials to ensure that coastal communities have access to the resources they need to rebuild local beaches in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster,”Southerland said. “Despite its designation as a higher risk flood zone, Gulf County is prohibited from receiving federal flood insurance under current law. This inequity in the law forces Gulf County homeowners to purchase private sector insurance at a much higher rate, if they are able to obtain coverage at all. Our common sense legislation will remedy this situation by making Gulf County residents eligible for federal flood insurance, and FEMA reimbursement for road construction,dredging and beach nourishment.”

Gulf County Commissioner Warren Yeager said, “We appreciate Rep. Southerland listening to our concerns and taking this common sense approach. By removing these units that were mistakenly placed in the CBRA system, our county’s residents and small business owners will once again have access to the federal resources they deserve. We’ve enjoyed working closely with Rep. Southerland to advance this legislation and we know that he shares our commitment to sensible growth and the preservation of habitat in Gulf County.”

Posted by Forgotten Coast Community Calendar - 03/07/12, 10:47 PM

Fishing Report - March 7, 2012

From the News Herald ( http://www.newsherald.com/articles/reports-100971-good-degrees.html#ixzz1oTu5bsBZ);

Freshwater: This warming trend is great for fishing. Good reports from Lake Wimico and Howard Creek are of catches of shellcracker, bass and catfish. The rising waters last week also was good for catfish at the damns and in the big rivers. Crappie continue to bite in all the waters around the Forgotten Coast, but better reports are coming in from Depot Creek.

Inshore/Piers: This week the water temperature in St. Joe Bay was 66 degrees. Only a few more weeks until the magic number of 68 degrees is reached. Redfish are being spotted in Eagle Harbor and on the flats in the bay, as are trout. Some decent-sized fish are being caught at the sea wall in the marina, but the better reports are coming in from Cape San Blas and Indian Pass. Snowbirds are reporting good whiting catches from the beaches and a few pompano.

Posted by Forgotten Coast Community Calendar - 03/07/12, 07:39 PM