Monday , September 22 2014
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Protect and Preserve

Our Canals Need Care & Conservation

A web of animals and plants live together in harmony in our canals, as long as we keep them clean. SUBMITTED PHOTO

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Marco Island has 100 miles of man-made canals. Historically, it was an approximate 6,000 acre mangrove island until the Deltona Corporation dredged it and filled it, using vertical, cement paneled seawalls to contain and stabilize the fill. Thus, creating the labyrinth of 100 miles of waterway canals in an approximately four square mile area. This construction created the 8,311 single-family residential properties (excluding Hideaway Beach and Key Marco) that we call home. Of these 8,311 properties, 5,723 are located on the canals, or waterfront. To date, 4,634 of those properties are developed. Basically, for those ... Read More »

The Myth of the “Black Panther”

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Over the years, there have been reports from hotel concierges, tourists and even some “old timers” of first-person accounts of “black panthers” lurking around the Marco Island beach dunes during the day. One tourist wrote a two-page letter in outrage that there was a “black panther” just a few feet away from children playing in the sand at the Hilton beach. Recently, a few true believers swear there was a “black panther” out on Sand Dollar “spit.” One of the best arguments heard is the “panther crossing” sign shows the outline of a panther in ... Read More »

Birds of Paradise

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Skimming along our beaches and resting in our rivers, bays and canals, these birds are a common sight on Marco Island. Their presence is especially breathtaking in the early mornings and as the sun sets over the island. Black Skimmers slice our mirrored waters, cutting the surface like silk. With their bright orange-red beaks and legs, they add a certain majesty to the waters that surround us. This bird is one of the most tropical in North America… Really, who needs a toucan? Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) are gull-like in size, about 11 ounces and ... Read More »

The Tipping Point: Time to Pay Attention

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Marco Island. Paradise. It’s a destination for many, a seasonal home for thousands and a year-round community and permanent home for many more – both humans and wildlife.   Separated from mainland peninsular Florida by the Marco River with the Rookery Bay estuary and the 10,000 Islands ecosystem complex cradling it on the edge of the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, the approximately four by four square mile island is one-of-a-kind. Once 6,000 acres of mangroves, it is now over one hundred miles of manmade canals with that gorgeous 7-mile crescent beach, both recreational for tourists ... Read More »

Chasin’ Tail Florida-Style

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PROTECTING &PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] In my household, sometimes I wonder if the refrigerator calendar of the Julian twelve months is really necessary as we mark our year by seasons – not fall, winter, spring and summer – but by stone crab, sailfish, mahi, grouper, scallops and lobster seasons. That’s just the oceanic seasons for my daughters and me; my husband adds in the hunting seasons as well for his year! It is definitely unanimous that we all love Lobster Season when late July and August roll around. Most Floridians know (and plan for) the “mini season” – two days ... Read More »

Whale Tales (Tails?)

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected]   “It is not down on any map; true places never are.” - Herman Melville, Moby- The unexpected experiences are always the most memorable and perhaps the most real. While fishing offshore Miami a few weekends ago nothing much was happening; no fish were biting, no birds were flying. It was hard to complain about not catching anything, though. The day was beautiful on the Atlantic Ocean about 6 miles offshore Biscayne Bay. The water was clear deep blue, the seas were calm and air warm. Watching the occasional man-of-war jellyfish float by with its ... Read More »

The Reddish (or is it Whitish) Egret?

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] One of the most entertaining and beautiful wading birds to watch along the Marco Island beach, especially in the Tigertail Lagoon area, is the medium sized egret named appropriately the Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens). Once, nearly completely annihilated from the state of Florida, the Federal 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed, protecting the Reddish Egret and all other herons and egrets from plume hunters. Today, there is a population estimated between 1,500 and 2,000 in the United States – mostly found along the Texas coast, a few in Louisiana and southern Florida. We ... Read More »

Knock, Knock! Who’s There? It’s the Pileated Woodpecker!

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] The magnificent Pileated Woodpecker…Can anyone say Woody Woodpecker? Okay, the Pileated Woodpecker (Dyrocopus pileatus) does not wear a cute blue suit like Woody Woodpecker (Animated cartoon character), but they do share that snazzy red mohawk atop their heads and a big, noisy personality! Pileated Woodpeckers are the third largest woodpecker species in North America – only smaller than the extinct Imperial and Ivory Billed woodpecker species. So, okay, they are the largest living woodpecker in the woods of North America today! They are startling to see clinging to the side of a tree due ... Read More »

Storm Season and Trees

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] As of June 1st, hurricane season officially began and by midweek, the first named storm, Tropical Storm Andrea, was blowing by our island. Luckily, Marco Island just received lots of rain but not much wind from Andrea. As the season progresses, it’s important to know ahead of time what to do when a storm strikes to protect trees to prevent or minimize financial and aesthetic losses. In the past couple of years, most of the trees on the island have been impacted by spiraling white fly and the ones which have had treatment are ... Read More »

Dolphins: Wild and Free

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] With smile-like expressions on their faces, serious agility that translates to playfulness to human observers and a curiosity that may equal ours, dolphins are WILD animals – marine mammals that need to be treated as such to keep them that way. “Flipper” is the iconic dolphin whose story created the myth that a wild dolphin is naturally friendly and never a menace. In fact, “Flipper” was a trained, captive dolphin (actually several dolphins) who did tricks on command for food, happily accepting the food and did not bite the hand that fed him. In ... Read More »

“SEASON” is Just Starting for Some

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Snowbird Season – or as locals simply call it – “season,” is over. Or at least it has definitely slowed down. Our roads are quieter; that’s good. Restaurants are easier to get in; that’s good for locals (but not so good for owners). Publix aisles are navigable; that’s great! The beach has fewer people on it; nice. But now it is a different kind of “season.” It is one for Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) and nesting shorebirds, such as Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger), Least Terns (Sternula antillarum), and Wilson Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia). This ... Read More »

Updates on Island Mammal Life

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Nancy Richie [email protected] The following are brief updates, “animal bites,” on the unique mammal populations that are monitored in and around Marco Island. All are locally, state and even federally protected. Please enjoy the wildlife life, but do not intrude in their space, feed, water, or harass them in any way – this is against the law. If wildlife acts startled, agitated, or leaves the site as you approach, it is considered harassment. Move away slowly and enjoy the animal and its natural behavior. Gopher Tortoises It is estimated that the Florida Gopher Tortoise population has decreased overall by 30% ... Read More »

Updates on Island Bird Life

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By Nancy Richie – [email protected] Photos by Jean Hall The following are brief updates, “animal bites,” on the unique bird life populations that are monitored in and around Marco Island. All are locally, state and even federally protected. Please enjoy the wildlife life, but do not intrude in their space, feed, water, or harass them in any way – this is against the law. If wildlife acts startled, agitated, or leaves the site as you approach, it is considered harassment. Move away slowly and enjoy the animal and its natural behavior. Burrowing Owls The popularity of the Marco Island Burrowing Owl ... Read More »

The Tiger In The Sky

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By Nancy Richie – [email protected] Photos by Jan Bergantz The Marco Island Burrowing Owl population is very popular this season. So popular, in fact, that many burrow sites on the main thorough fares are being invaded by visitors for drive-by photos and amateur tours. Some sites have people approaching all day long by car, bike, foot – even crawling under the flagging tape with cameras – time will tell if this owl population will tolerate and sustain this impact. Just a friendly reminder – please approach all wildlife sites quietly, if in a group, stay together, don’t surround the posted area ... Read More »

La Florida

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By Nancy Richie – [email protected] Florida, originally called “La Florida” or “flowery land” by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, is home to an amazing and impressive array of wildflowers and butterflies. Florida is known for many unique characteristics such as having the longest contiguous coastline in the lower 50 states (1,197 miles), the only State to have two oceanic borders (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean) and, of course, the famous Everglades. But it is the vast and diverse number of native plant and butterfly species that really are the most spectacular characteristics for year- round residents ... Read More »

Marco Island Christmas Bird Count

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By Nancy Richie [email protected] The 113th Audubon Christmas Bird Count was held nationwide between December 14th, 2012 and January 5th, 2013. For over one hundred years, citizen scientists gear up with binoculars, a favorite bird guide and checklists, and brave the elements to count birds in their backyards and neighborhoods. Generations of families have participated; from avid birders to students to scientists to folks who just enjoy the outdoors. The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running wildlife consensus of bird populations in our country. Audubon and many other organizations use the counts to monitor and assess the health and of ... Read More »

Bumper Crop

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] It is common knowledge on Marco Island that Florida Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) are present, popular and so abundant that they are found in almost every neighborhood on the island. Not only do our residents enjoy these charismatic birds of prey, but people travel from all over the world to see them. Professional photographers charge top dollar to school the amateur how to photograph them in the “best light,” though any ol’ camera will do. One can’t go wrong when the subject has big yellow eyes, long downy legs and attitude that could take on ... Read More »

Far From Home

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Something is going on. Razorbills, an alcid bird or a web-footed, diving seabird, have been seen all over Florida by avid birders and beach goers. A few have been reported on Marco Island’s Tigertail Beach as well as in Caxambas Pass. Being a peninsula with one of the longest coastlines in the country, Florida has seabirds, so why is it so unusual to see the Razorbills? Historically, there have only been 14 documented sightings of this species in Florida. But since early December, there have been over 20 reports from Jacksonville to Marco Island of ... Read More »

THE PINES OF MARCO ISLAND, Not traditional christmas trees

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  [email protected]  Did you attend the City’s Christmas Tree Lighting last weekend? Have you gone by Veterans’ Park to see this beautifully trimmed tree? If not yet, take a look and Merry Christmas! On our semi-tropical barrier island, there are predominantly three species of pine-like trees. None would make for a hearty Christmas tree, but all have a value in our community. So, put up your artificial tree or get one from a big tent; the pines on Marco Island are not your traditional Christmas trees. Southern Slash Pine  The Southern Slash Pine is a native tree ... Read More »

The White Pelican

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  [email protected]  One the largest and oldest known birds in our nation, named by a German naturalist in 1789, is the White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. It migrates from the north to winter in south Florida, particularly Sarasota to south of Marco Island, giving the moniker, “snow bird,” real meaning. Once hunted as sport, the White Pelican is protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 and is listed as a species of special concern in the State of Florida and several other states. This species of pelican, one of the two in the United States (the ... Read More »