A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- May 2, 2015

Below are first hand observations from our volunteer Dick Brewer. Who does weekly visits to Bird Rookery Swamp and very week sends us incredible stories of the magical 12 mile loop. If you would like to see more of his observations visit: http://www.dickbrewer.org/CREW.html
barred owl
By Dick Brewer
“Water levels are down more, even after the recent rains. Consequently, gator and wading bird numbers are down too. 

One Roseate Spoonbill spent most of the day at Ida’s Pond, so visitors coming in had a spoonbill, Banded Water Snake, gators, Anhingas, Red-bellied Turtle, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Great Egrets to greet them.

The “hot spot” for the day was past marker 2 where the barbed wire fence ends and a service road splits to the left. There’s a depressionnat the junction of the main tram and the service road where a River Otter spent time catching and eating Crayfish that were left. A young
Barred Owl was in a cypress overhead, and while I was talking with four women who were enjoying the otter and owl, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from behind us. Later, hikers and bikers all commented about the otter and owl, so it was a great day for everyone.

The tram between markers 6 and 3 hasn’t been mowed recently, so the higher grasses are attracting lots of butterfly species, especially skippers”.

By Dick Brewer

Bird Rookery Swamp observations
Saturday, May 2 ~ 7:15 am-1:30 pm

Anhinga – 11
Great Blue Heron – 2
Great Egret – 6
Snowy Egret – 4
Little Blue Heron – 3
Tri-colored Heron – 1
Black-crowned Night Heron – 3
White Ibis – 1
Roseate Spoonbill – 1
Wood Stork – 8
Black Vulture – 44
Turkey Vulture – 18
Red-shouldered Hawk – 11
Common Ground Dove – 6
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
Barred Owl – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 15
Downy Woodpecker – 2
Pileated Woodpecker – 4
Great-crested Flycatcher – 6
Blue Jay – 2
American Crow – 1
Tufted Titmouse – 7
Carolina Wren – 11
White-eyed Vireo – 14
Northern Cardinal – 23
Common Grackle – 6

Palamedes Swallowtail – 5
Tiger Swallowtail – 1
Zebra Longwing – 2
Ruddy Daggerwing – 7
White Peacock – 58
Red Admiral – 1
Viceroy – 2
Queen – 1
Monarch – 1
Great Southern White – 12
Tropical Checker – 6
Whirlabout – 1
Twin-spotted Skipper – 1
Delaware Skipper – 1

Raccoon – 1
River Otter – 1
White-tailed Deer – 1
Alligator – 84
Brown Anole – 12
Red-bellied Turtle – 7
Banded Water Snake – 1
Pig Frog – 3
Green Treefrog – 5
Cuban Treefrog – 2
Great Blue Skimmer – 1
Needham’s Skimmer – 2
Eastern Pondhawk – 85
Gar – 28

 By Dick Brewer

Great Blue Skimmer
By Dick Brewer

A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- ” A view around the 12.25-mile loop”

Below are first hand observations from our volunteer Dick Brewer. Who does weekly visits to Bird Rookery Swamp and very week sends us incredible stories of the magical 12 mile loop. If you would like to see more of his observations visit: http://www.dickbrewer.org/CREW.html

Deer at BRS

Saturday March 14th-  The numbers of species and individuals were larger than normal because I walked nearly eight hours and the hike was around the 12.25-mile loop.

The really large number for Glossy Ibis came when three V flights of about 22-24 each flew over at the same time — pretty awesome sight! The Barred Owl was an audio rather than visual observation, from between markers 4 and 5. The number of gators counted is not a typo; there were lots and lots of them including three clutches of six or seven month olds still staying close to their mothers. So much happening at Bird Rookery Swamp.



Anhinga – 12
Great Blue Heron – 11
Great Egret – 54
Snowy Egret – 10
Little Blue Heron – 15
Tri-colored Heron – 6
Green Heron – 4
Black-crowned Night Heron – 6
Yellow-crowned Night Heron – 1
White Ibis – 93
Glossy Ibis – 74
Wood Stork – 10
Black Vulture – 53
Turkey Vulture – 20
Swallow-tailed Kite – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 20
Common Gallinule – 1
Common Ground Dove – 3
Barred Owl – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 5
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 20
Downy Woodpecker – 3
Pileated Woodpecker – 4
Eastern Phoebe – 5
Great-crested Flycatcher – 13
American Crow – 3
Tufted Titmouse – 7
Carolina Wren – 33
Gray Catbird – 24
White-eyed Vireo – 28
Northern Waterthrush – 1
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Pine Warbler – 1
Palm Warbler – 2
Northern Parula – 8
Common Yellowthroat – 2
Northern Cardinal – 20
Common Grackle – 9


Palamedes Swallowtail – 13
Spicebush Swallowtail – 9
Tiger Swallowtail – 4
Gulf Fritillary – 4
Zebra Longwing – 22
White Peacock – 13
Queen – 2
Soldier – 2
Pearl Crescent – 2
Tropical Checker – 6
Great Southern White – 4
Cloudless Sulphur – 1


White-tailed Deer – 1
Gray Squirrel – 3
Red-bellied Turtle – 16
Florida Soft-shelled Turtle – 1
Banded Water Snake – 4
Water Moccasin – 1
Yellow Rat Snake – 1
Alligator – 273
Southeastern Five-lined Skink – 1
Green Anole – 1
Green Treefrog – 2
Cuban Treefrog – 3
Squirrel Treefrog – 2
Needham’s Skimmer – 8


Bike the Loop: Bird Rookery Swamp

Like to bike? Come out to Bird Rookery Swamp on February 27th, 2015 from 9 am- 1pm and  join CREW Trust volunteers Peter Tomlinson and Jan Watson for a guided  tour of the picturesque 12-mile loop. 

View beautiful scenery, great wildlife, and enjoy the company of like-minded souls.

Activity Level: Strenuous-This is a trail ride on uneven, soft, grassy/sandy trails. Ground level with swamp on both sides of the trail.

BRING YOUR OWN BICYCLE: Mountain, hybrid or fat tire bikes are recommended. Not appropriate for road bicycles. CREW does NOT provide bikes for this tour. 

Space is limited to first 20 riders that register, so use the link below and sign up fast:





Wild File Q & A: How can snakes climb trees?

This month’s Q & A post by CREW volunteer naturalist Dick Brewer


Q: How can snakes climb up trees?

A: Snakes use “concertina locomotion” to climb trees – the act of gripping with some parts of the body while pulling or pushing with other parts of the body in the general direction of movement. Ripples of muscle travel along the snake’s length while the spaces in between
inch forward.

Concertina locomotion is very irregular and appears to be quite strenuous. So, it takes snakes much longer to climb a tree than they could move on the ground or in the water.

This push/pull motion is made possible by scales that are keeled, or ridged. Think of the keel on the bottom of a boat. Unlike smooth scales, keeled scales have raised ridges on the center of each scale which enables the snake to get a grip on rough surfaces, much like a tire with a good tread grips the road better than a bald tire.

Snakes cannot stick to smooth walls the way insects and lizards often do; the snake must have something for the keel to rest on in order to push up. So working in concert with the body  muscles, the keeled scales lodged in bark crevices help the snake push against the bark on the tree and inch upward. And yes, sometimes snakes do lose their grip and fall out of a tree.

All snakes either have smooth or keeled scales, and one way to distinguish is that smooth scales typically reflect light, making the color pattern of these snakes shiny, glossy, or iridescent, whereas keeled scales tend to make snakes appear dull and non-reflective because of the raised ridge. Because snakes climb with their bellies to the tree trunk, the scales on their undersides of some snakes may be keeled while the scales on the topside may not be.

snake climbing tree
The Yellow Rat Snake is the best tree climbing snake in Florida. (Photo by Dick Brewer)

What Walks the Trails When You’re Not There?

If you’ve ever walked the CREW hiking trails, you know that sometimes you get to see animals like armadillos and bobcats and black racers – and sometimes you don’t. Yet, you know they are out there – wandering, feeding, sleeping, living their lives. If you’re observant, you can see signs of them everywhere in the form of tracks, scat, nests, and trails.

So, what really walks those hiking trails when we’re not there? Remote cameras are a great way to capture animal activity. One of our CREW volunteers deploys and monitors a remote camera out in CREW. The camera location changes with the seasons, and we often get some great shots of animals rarely seen by people. If you ever wondered what walks the trails when you’re not there, take a look at these shots captured recently…and then make plans to come visit a CREW trail soon.



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