Earth Day April 22, 2020

For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day remember the phrase: “think globally, act locally” with these Citizen Science projects you can start today in your own backyard!

Nature’s Notebook

Discover and document changes in nature near you. Nature’s Notebook is an off-the-shelf program appropriate for scientists and non-scientists alike, engaging observers across the nation to collect phenology observations on both plants and animals.

Globe at Night Globe at Night is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure & submit their night sky brightness observations. It’s easy to get involved – all you need is a computer or smartphone & follow these 5 Simple Steps!

Collect Weather Data CoCoRaHS (pronounced KO-ko-rozz) is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in their local communities.

BioBlitz A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. At a BioBlitz, scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to get a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity.

White Pelican Party

As the water dries down at CREW’s Flint Pen Strand trails, an abundance of wading birds have become regular visitors to the lakes. You can access the lakes two different ways: by hiking from the Main Parking lot or parking in the smaller Lakes Parking lot adjacent to the lakes. If you want to see these birds arrive early for sunrise or later for sunset. Take your time approaching these flighty hunters and you will be rewarded with views perfect for unbelievable photographs. For some inspiration, take a look through this collection from CREW Trust volunteer, Bill Zaino’s recent photos capturing White Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills, Woodstorks, Tricolored Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Limpkins and Greater Yellowlegs .

CREW and You, part 5 and 6: WHY and HOW

This is part 5 and 6 of our six-part series on the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the CREW Trust.

The trestle bridge at Bird Rookery Swamp

In our previous posts, we’ve talked about the 60,000-acre Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) and the role of the CREW Land & Water Trust.

Our nonprofit is dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the water resources and natural communities in and around CREW.

We do this through assisting with funding and land acquisition and through environmental education.

At the heart of our WHY is this: we care passionately about the water, the land, and the flora and fauna within the watershed.

We care.

Part of protecting anything, from land to water to animals, is getting people to care. We know that, when someone is out on the trails and learns about how a drop of water moves through the watershed and is filtered by the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh and helps fill our aquifer, we are helping them care about where their water comes from.

When a student learns about the palmetto berries and the bears that feed on them, they have an understanding of why we protect both the berry and the bear and how they (including the human) are all connected in our ecosystem.

Because we know that, when someone cares, they then ask HOW. How can they be part of protecting and preserving water? How can they work towards making sure that our future generations have clean water to drink?

How can they help protect endangered species like the Florida Panther?

game camera image by Tom Mortenson

All of us here at CREW Land & Water Trust – from staff to interns to volunteers and Trustees – we are all part of this nonprofit because at some time, we learned, then cared, then felt called to do something.

And if you have attended a program and learned about the watershed, or wandered the trails and watched a swallow-tailed kite soar overhead, you probably care, too. You are part of our why, and you can be part of our how.

Become a member. Our members help support our environmental education programs, not just through their membership dues, but also through attending our programs as paid participants.

Volunteer. Our volunteers do everything, from trail maintenance and exotic plant removal to assisting with field trips and leading guided walks. We simply could not educate the over 49,000 people who visited the CREW Trails or participated in a CREW Trust program last year without our volunteers.

The reality is, no one person started the CREW Project, and no one person founded the CREW Land & Water Trust. It took a few people caring a lot to start the process of acquiring and preserving land within the 60,000-acre border. Their WHY led to their HOW and it’s up to us to continue and carry the passion they had 30 years ago into the years to come.

Merry Christmas and Happy CREW Year

Happy Holidays from all of us at CREW!


Christmas is just days away and, once the wrapping paper settles and the cookies disappear, it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. We’ve got a few ideas for last minute holiday gifts and ways to make 2017 the best year yet.

Give the gift of guided walks

Our guided walks are free, but the knowledge of our volunteer leaders is highly valuable. Sign yourself up and head to Bird Rookery Swamp for two hours of George’s or Bobby’s stories or go out with Dr. David Cooper for a tour of CREW Marsh Trails. Better yet, sign up a friend. Guided walks are a great way to build confidence in new CREW visitors, and that confidence level increases the chances that they will return to explore more of the trails.

Share nature with kids and grandkids

The electronic hatching egg everyone is clamoring for will only engage kids for so long, and by New Year’s Day, it will be forgotten in a pile of toys. Memories last much longer, so give the gift of time and take your kids or grandkids out to your favorite trail.

The going may be slower as they stop to see every tiny flower or search for animal tracks, but it’s the memories that count, not the miles. And if they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, give them homework and tell them to google it, then get back to you with the answer.

If you are looking for a way to wrap up that idea, make a coupon for one guided hike with Nana or Uncle Todd (insert your name) and give it with a field guide or binoculars or kid-sized hiking stick. (Hint hint, we sell those at the CREW office).

They’ll talk for years about seeing one-eyed Ida and completely forget about whatever game they got for their NintendoDS.

This holiday season, hit the trails with friends and family and help us spread our mission of protecting and preserving our watershed.

Honor a loved one

While Christmas and New Year’s is a time of celebration, it can also be a time of reflection for those that have lost loved ones and friends this year.

Consider making a donation to CREW as a way to memorialize a grandparent who first introduced you to birding or always remember a sun-filled day when you spent the morning identifying butterflies with your visiting best friend.

New Year, new you

The top New Year’s resolution each year is fitness. Gym memberships surge and by mid-February, everyone is back to their old habits.

At CREW, we’ve got a great way for you to get active and stay active all year long: volunteer as a Trail Steward.

After a short training session, you’ll have a snazzy blue volunteer shirt and be ready to hit the trails, acting as an ambassador for CREW and answering questions as you stroll your favorite trail system. There are no set hours; we just ask that you wear your volunteer shirt when you go hiking, then log your volunteer hours when you get home.

You’ll not only stay committed to your resolution, but you’ll be sharing your love and passion with others while helping CREW continue our mission of protecting and preserving our watershed. It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Ready, Set, Hike… 2016-17 Free Guided Hike Schedule

Ready, set, go! Guided Hike season is almost upon us. The CREW Trust has outdone itself again. This coming season’s programs are over the top!

Starting in November and continuing through the end of April 2017, the CREW Trust volunteers will be presenting over 14 free guided walks each month! Come on out and take a walk with one of your old favorites or one of our new guides. If you’ve never walked with us, then makes plans to do it right away. You won’t regret it.IMG_5272

CREW Marsh Trails – Dr. David Cooper will present his enjoyable and informative walk every second and fourth Tuesday and the second Saturday of each month at 9:00AM.

Dr. David is the Dean of the CREW Trust guides and one of its charter volunteers. He is a wealth of knowledge and a very entertaining guide. A morning with Dr. David will change the way you think about the CREW Marsh.

CREW Bird Rookery Swamp – Bobby McLoughlin will be guiding his walk the second and fourth Tuesday and the fourth Saturday each month at 9:00AM. Every Wednesday at 9:00AM, George Luther and Bob Melin will conduct their walk.

During January through April, on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 1:30PM (notedeer_1128_2the afternoon starting time, please), Jeff and Pauline Suss will lead their walk.

From February through, and including, April 13th., at 9:00AM, Chrissy Podos and Dr. Jack Shine will conduct their walks. Chrissy will lead on: 2/2, 2/16, 3/2, 3/23, and 4/6. Dr. Jack will lead on: 2/9, 2/23, 3/9/, 3/16, 3/30, and 4/13.

Each of these guides interpret the trail in their own style. Each has their own areas of expertise and each provides a remarkable experience.  Bird Rookery Swamp was again been recognized by TripAdvisor with a Certificate of Excellence for 2016.

All of these hikes are free because of the generosity of the CREW Trust members. Donations are gratefully accepted. Registration is required for these walks. Further information can be found at

To register for any of these walks, click here

NEW Friendly Faces on the CREW Trails: Trail Stewards

The CREW Trust Trail Steward program provides our guests with a friendly and welcoming CREW volunteer ambassador along the CREW Trust trails. The Trail Steward is the “face” of the CREW Trust.  Now, in its second season, the very successful Trail Steward program needs more volunteers.

trail steward

Trail Stewards greet guests along the trail and engage them in conversation about such things as:

  • what the CREW Trust is;
  • what the trail conditions are;
  • what the guest may encounter (flora and fauna) along the trail; and
  • what the guests’ expectations are.

The Trail Steward can also provide safety information to our guests.

Trail Stewards create their own schedule, a few hours a month or a few hours a week. Whenever the Trail Steward wishes to serve, they just show up and interact with our guests. Perfect for those who do not want get tied down to a schedule.

To become a CREW Trail Steward, contact the CREW Trust Staff at and click on “Volunteer” or call 239-657-2253. Training will be provided free to those who wish to participate in this fun and rewarding rewarding program.

A View of Bird Rookery Swamp…It’s Summer Time

Bird Rookery Swamp observations
Saturday, June 11
6:40 am-12:20 pm

“In spite of the heat and humidity, it was a good day. I identified 32 species of birds and 14 species of butterflies. Among the pleasant bird sightings were a male Wood Duck flying over, four Barred Owls, three Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and a lone Black-and-white Warbler
working up and down a cypress trunk.

Butterflies were outstanding. White Peacocks were still the most common, but the swallowtails were out in force: 43 Tiger Swallowtails, 41 Palamedes Swallowtails, seven Spicebush Swallowtails, and one Black Swallowtail. In several spots, they were puddling including one grouptrail_0611 of four Tiger Swallowtails and three Palamedes Swallowtails that were gleaning minerals from some fresh Panther scat.

With the recent rains, water is up. It’s dry up to marker 3, but there were five spots between marker 3 and marker 6 where water was flowing over the tram. Most were just a couple of inches deep. The deepest was seven inches.

Ida was swimming in her pond early but I didn’t see her on my way out. However, a really large male was making its way across the tram a little beyond her pond.”

Anhinga – 11
Great Blue Heron – 2
Great Egret – 14
Snowy Egret – 12
Little Blue Heron – 5
Tri-colored Heron – 8
Green Heron – 1
Black-crowned Night Heron – 2
Yellow-crowned Night Heron – 1
White Ibis – 2
Wood Duck – 1
Black Vulture – 26
Turkey Vulture – 11
Red-shouldered Hawk – 23
Mourning Dove – 1
Common Ground Dove – 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 3
Barred Owl – 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 9
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 4
Great-crested Flycatcher – 2
Blue Jay – 2
American Crow – 1
Tufted Titmouse – 6
Carolina Wren – 13
Northern Mockingbird – 2
White-eyed Vireo – 19
Northern Parula – 2
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Northern Cardinal – 29
Common Grackle – 20

Palamedes Swallowtail – 41
Tiger Swallowtail – 43
Spicebush Swallowtail – 7
Black Swallowtail – 1
Zebra Longwing – 6
White Peacock – 79
Ruddy Daggerwing – 19
Viceroy – 12
Pearl Crescent – 1
Great Southern White – 12
Brazilian Skipper – 17
Least Skipper – 3
Three-spotted Skipper – 1
Tropical Checker – 1

Eastern Pondhawk – 21
Blue Dasher – 8
Needham’s Skimmer – 3
Regal Darner – 2
Little Blue Dragonlet – 2

Gray Squirrel – 1

Alligator – 58
Brown Anole – 8
Red-bellied Turtle – 1
Banded Water Snake – 2
Pig Frog – chorus
Greenhouse Frog – 5
Green Treefrog – chorus
Cuban Treefrog – chorus

By Dick Brewer

5th Annual CREW Wine & Cheese Social

We are excited to announce our 5th annual CREW Member Wine & Cheese Social and Volunteer Appreciation event will be held on Thursday, January 21st, 2016 at 6:00 PM. This event is for current CREW members (members in good standing as of January 13th, 2016) and invited guests.

wine and cheese 2015

The 2016 Wine & Cheese Social will feature a variety of wines, snacks and local craft beer. This annual gathering is our way of saying how much we appreciate our members’ continued support. We will also recognize our core volunteers for their tireless efforts in the field and behind the scenes. Invitations have been sent out, please be sure to RSVP by January 15th.  

If you are not a CREW member or are not sure if your membership is current, contact us at the CREW office 239-657-2253 or visit

A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- Florida Snapping Turtle

Bird Rookery Swamp observations
Saturday, January 2 ~ 7:00 am-12:10 pm

“The cloudy skies and starting temperatures in the upper 60s made walking very pleasant. One birder, three joggers, two hikers, and I were the only ones there at the start, but the gator_0102crowds of people began coming in around 11. When I left a little after noon, the parking lot was full and people were parking in the street. Lots of nice people.

Birding was good with 42 species, but the weather suppressed everything else including insects and herps. I only spotted seven gators for the day, but it may have been my ability to look in the right spot. In the attached photo, X marks the spot!

The Florida Snapping Turtle was just emerging from the water, probably to dig a hole and lay some eggs. It’s that time of year for them. She was between mile markers 8 and 9, a little west of the large twin culverts that run under the tram”.
Pied-billed Grebe – 3
Anhinga – 4
Great Blue Heron – 7
Great Egret – 13
Snowy Egret – 7
Little Blue Heron – 8
Tri-colored Heron – 8
Green Heron – 2
Black-crowned Night Heron – 4
Yellow-crowned Night Heron – 2
White Ibis – 143
Roseate Spoonbill – 8
Wood Stork – 6
Black Vulture – 102
Turkey Vulture – 13
Red-shouldered Hawk – 6
American Kestrel – 1
Mourning Dove – 1
Barred Owl – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 5
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 15
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 5
Eastern Phoebe – 6
Great-crested Flycatcher – 8
Tree Swallow – 38
American Crow – 4
Tufted Titmouse – 6
Carolina Wren – 7
House Wren – 4
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 32
American Robin – 19
Gray Catbird – 42
White-eyed Vireo – 2
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 41
Palm Warbler – 9
Common Yellowthroat – 1
Northern Cardinal – 9
Common Grackle – 16
American Goldfinch – 2

White Peacock – 47
Zebra Longwing – 1
Common Buckeye – 1
Brazilian Skipper – 1
Phaon Crescent – 1

Eastern Pondhawk – 2

White-tailed Deer – 1

Alligator – 7
Green Anole – 1
Brown Anole – 13
Pig Frog – 1
Florida Snapping Turtle – 1

By Dick Brewer

A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- Wading Birds before the boardwalk

Bird Rookery Swamp observations
Saturday, December 5
6:30 am1:05 pm

“Cloudy skies and light rain all morning should have made sightings rather slim, and it did for butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, and herps. However, it was a great day for birds with 42 species seen and identified.

A 6:30 start in the parking lot caught a lot of the early birds flying in and out from their night time roosts. We were up to 25 species before we reached the start of the boardwalk.

The large flocks of White Ibis and other waders including three Roseate Spoonbills; Wood Storks; Little Blue, Great Blue, Black-crowned Night and Tri-colored Herons; Great and Snowy Egrets all flew in within 15 minutes of each other. A Barred Owl called from deeper in the cypress while Goldfinches, Common Yellowthroats, Cardinals, a House Wren, and Palm Warblers were active in the shrubby vegetation to the west orosp_1205f the parking lot and gravel path.

A quartet of Pied-billed Grebes swam, dove, and preened in the canal beside the gravel path while Red-shouldered Hawks and a trio of Double-crested Cormorants flew over. It was a great way to begin the day.

One pocket of small birds a little later included a Black-and-white Warbler, a Yellow-throated Warbler, several Yellow-rumped Warblers, lots of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and a few woodpeckers. The most unexpected avian sighting was a Cooper’s Hawk that flew over while we were watching a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks.

The only mammals we saw were a Raccoon and a River Otter, plus several Gray Squirrels. Due to the inclement weather, we could only find 18 gators. Other herps were a Red-bellied Turtle and Green and Brown Anoles.

Butterflies were limited because of the weather, too. We only found eight species. The Long-tailed Skipper in the photo was one of two seen. White Peacocks were again the most common with 47 individuals counted, followed by 11 Barred Yellows.

Even with the rain and cloudy skies, visitors still came. Most were bicyclists, but one early jogger did the entire 12-mile loop. Walkers didn’t appear until late morning and early afternoon. Ida was in her pond but floating in the back next to the raft”.

Pied-billed Grebe – 4
Anhinga – 10
Double-crested Cormorant – 3
Great Blue Heron – 6
Great Egret – 15
Snowy Egret – 2
Little Blue Heron – 11
Tri-colored Heron – 4
Green Heron – 4
Black-crowned Night Heron – 13
White Ibis – 81
Roseate Spoonbill – 3
Wood Stork – 3
Black Vulture – 19
Turkey Vulture – 48
Red-shouldered Hawk – 13
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Mourning Dove – 26
Common Ground Dove – 2
Barred Owl – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 6
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 16
Downy Woodpecker – 4
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 3
Eastern Phoebe – 8
Great-crested Flycatcher – 5
Tree Swallow – 1
Carolina Wren – 9
House Wren – 2
Tufted Titmouse – 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 9
American Robin – 3
Gray Catbird – 21
Blue-headed Vireo – 2
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Yellow-throated Warbler – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 5
Palm Warbler – 12
Common Yellowthroat – 5
Northern Cardinal – 8
Common Grackle – 23
American Goldfinch – 2

Tiger Swallowtail – 1
White Peacock – 47
Viceroy – 2
Barred Yellow – 11
Fiery Skipper – 1
Long-tailed Skipper – 2
Brazilian Skipper – 7
Tropical Checker – 4

Eastern Pondhawk – 12
Needham’s Skimmer – 6

Gray Squirrel – 1
River Otter – 1
Raccoon – 1

Alligator – 18
Brown Anole – 11
Green Anole – 2
Red-bellied Turtle – 1

By Dick Brewer
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