Season’s First Walkabout – Jelks Preserve
Peace River Audubon Society’s first walkabout of the 2015-2016 season was held at Jelks Preserve in Sarasota County on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. This 614-acre preserve borders the wild and scenic Myakka River and showcases several diverse natural communities including oak hammocks, pine flatwoods and seasonal wetlands. Due to numerous rains during the summer months and early fall weeks, the seasonal wetlands had spilled over onto portions of the trails. Twelve participants were advised, in advance, to wear proper footwear for wading through ankle deep spots along the trail. The natural beauty of this preserve was a welcome diversion for these hikers. Twelve seasoned hikers and birders took their time, walking a little over a half mile to the Myakka River. Open fields with numerous and colorful wildflowers eventually merged with a forest of graceful live oaks whose limbs were covered with resurrection ferns and a variety of air plants which are members of the pineapple family (Bromeliaceae). Mixed in with these plants were butterfly orchids which promise to provide attractive blooms in the spring. Along the way, these hikers were treated with sightings, songs, and calls of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Great Blue Herons, Blue Jays, a Hairy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Prairie Warbler, Red-shouldered Hawk, Black Vultures, Mockingbirds, Cardinals, a Brown Thrasher, Great Egrets, and one Belted Kingfisher. One of the participants sighted two Sandhill Cranes on her way to Jelks Preserve. As the fall season progresses and the trails dry out, visitors to Jelks Preserve will be treated with the sights and sounds of numerous migrating birds.
Report submitted by Larry Behrens.