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

Guided Hikes at Bird Rookery Swamp

Free guided walks are offered each Wednesday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. each season (November through Easter).

Volunteer naturalists will lead a small group along the shell path to our boardwalk while discussing the history of Bird Rookery Swamp, the purpose of the watershed, the importance of the aquifer and the flora and fauna of this unique ecosystem.


Bird Rookery Swamp

Registration is required, to sign up click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2014-15-bird-rookery-swamp-guided-walks-registration-15291652745

BRS sign

Spring is here- CREW Wildflower Hike

Callisia ornata
Callisia ornata By Roger Hammer

Join our special guest Roger Hammer, for an entertaining and informative wildflower walk at CREW Marsh Trails April 18th from 9-12pm .

Registration is required. Click on the link to sign up: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/spring-wildflower-walk-with-roger-hammer-2015-tickets-12665985303

Roger Hammer
Roger Hammer

Roger is an award-winning professional naturalist, author of Everglades Wildflowers and Florida Icons, botanist and photographer. He has spent many days on the CREW trails – and all over Florida – searching for new species and photographing flowers for his new book. His stories and depth of knowledge will delight and inspire you.



Is there an age limit for the event? This event is for adults and children over 12.

What are the parking/facilities like at the trails? There is a grassy parking lot at the trail head. There is one portable restroom at the trail head.

What are the trails like?  The trails are mostly grassy/sandy ground level trails with some boardwalks over wet areas. Expect seasonally wet/muddy places on the trails during the rainy season (July – November).

Beltia purpurea
Beltia purpurea By Roger Hammer


Polygala setacea (coastalplain milkwort)
Polygala setacea
By Roger Hammer

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


Wild File Q & A: Why do owls turn and bob their heads so much?

Q: Why do owls turn and bob their heads so much?

A young Barred Owl watches activity below.
A young Barred Owl watches activity below.
By Dick Brewer

A:     Owl eyes are very large. They are so large that they cannot move in their sockets. Imagine having a pair of binoculars up to your eyes and looking straight ahead. If you hear a sound to the side, you can’t see what made it unless you turn your whole head so the binoculars are pointed toward the sound. That’s how an owl sees all of the time.
Without binoculars, you can roll your eyes up or down and move your eyes left or right without moving your head, but an owl can’t. And even when looking forward, owls have a smaller field of vision than people do.

To see what your visual field looks like try this experiment. Hold your arms out with both of your index fingers in front of your nose. While you stare straight ahead, move your arms in an arc toward your sides, still staring forward. When you can no longer see your fingers
stop moving your arms. The arc that your arms made is your visual field and measures approximately 180 degrees.

An owl’s visual field is only about 110 degrees. For an owl to focus well, it must turn its head to get an object into its visual field. In addition, owls often bob their heads up and down to judge distance.

By Dick Brewer


A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- “A fun day for Otters”

otter at Bird Rookery Swamp

Below are first hand observations from our volunteer Dick Brewer. He 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

otter at Bird Rookery Swamp
By Dick Brewer



Saturday, February 21st- Fun day for River Otters. One was just past Ida’s pond where I’ve seen it before. It came up on land, rolled in some leaves, and went to the base of a tree. Then, it jumped into ferns at the base of the tree. I didn’t know that otters could jump. It was pulling dead vegetation out and eventually made a small pile of leaves and vegetations and then
marked its territory.


The second group was a family by the dual culverts between markers 6 & 3. There was a large gator dozing by the entrance to one of the culverts and the otters were apparently teaching the young about predators. They were huffing, snorting, and barking and then harassed the gator by dashing at it and in a few cases touching its hindquarters. The gator finally had enough and raised its head, at which time all of the otters dispersed, still very noisy. A couple of bikers came by and were totally entertained.

By Dick Brewer

Pied-billed Grebe – 1
Anhinga – 9
Great Blue Heron – 7
Great Egret – 35
Snowy Egret – 3
Little Blue Heron – 4
Tri-colored Heron – 2
Green Heron – 1
Black-crowned Night Heron – 21
Yellow-crowned Night Heron – 1
White Ibis – 91
Glossy Ibis – 1
Wood Stork – 1
Black Vulture – 13
Turkey Vulture – 18
Red-shouldered Hawk – 12
Osprey – 1
Killdeer – 1
Common Ground Dove – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 10
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 7
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 2
Eastern Phoebe – 8
Great-crested Flycatcher – 3
Tree Swallow – 56
Tufted Titmouse – 4
Carolina Wren – 14
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 19
Northern Mockingbird – 3
Gray Catbird – 6
White-eyed Vireo – 6
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Palm Warbler – 11
Northern Cardinal – 2
Common Grackle – 4


White eyed viero
By Dick Brewer

Palamedes Swallowtail – 1
Zebra Longwing – 11
Queen – 2
Viceroy – 2
White Peacock – 15
Gulf Fritillary – 1
Dorantes Longtail – 2
Dun Skipper – 1
Tropical Checker – 2
Barred Yellow – 1

River Otter – 8
Gray Squirrel – 2
Red-bellied Turtle – 11
Banded Water Snake – 3
Water Moccasin – 2
Alligator – 84   ”

Visit Bird Rookery Swamp today and experience the beauty of CREW:   https://crewtrus.mystagingwebsite.com/2013/06/26/bird-rookery-swamp-trail/

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:





Identify the Plant and Give the Gift of Education

Can you identify the plant in this photo?

dog fennel

This plant, with its feathery foliage and towering stature, grows alongside the trail out at the CREW Marsh Trails. The trails get a lot of visitors this time of year, especially 3rd graders from Collier County as part of their field trips to CREW. Schoolchildren visit CREW with their teachers and spend half of their morning on a nature hike, guided by our very own Jessi Drummond, who leads them through stops that feature explanations about prescribed burns, how to identify poison ivy and why it’s an important food source for deer, and even, if they are lucky, investigating scat (most often Bobcat scat). The other half of their field trip is spent dip netting and identifying the different living organisms in their water samples. The kids then have lunch, and leave- hopefully- with a pretty clear idea of why the watershed is important, with discussions that focus on habitat, the water cycle, and how the marshlands help clean our water.

This plant that is pictured above is one of our sensory teaching tools. Jessi stops with the students, takes off a few leaves, and passes them around to the students. “What do you smell?” she asks as little hands eagerly shoot up in the air. The students share that they smell everything from licorice to mint, and Jessi then lets them know that she smells pickles when she smells this plant which is Dog Fennel. Tying in their senses- hearing, touch, smell, sight- is an important part of the field trip for so many kids who just don’t spend enough time outside.

Education is a very important part of our mission at CREW, and this year, we’ve got a fundraising campaign for the month of December. Our goal is to raise $25,000, and an end-of-year gift from you, our supporters and members, can make that happen. It’s part of #GivingTuesday, an effort by many non-profits nationwide to remind everyone that after Black Friday and Cyper Monday, sometimes it’s nice to find a way to give back and pay it forward. Your donation will help further our education efforts at CREW and support all of our educational programs, including our field trips.

You can find out more about our #GivingTuesday campaign on our website (https://crewtrus.mystagingwebsite.com/2014/11/10/6996/). All donors receive a link to a special set of photographs of our CREW wildlife and donors at higher levels can receive special goodies, like tickets to our Concert and Silent Eco-Auction in March.

Next time you are out on the CREW Marsh Trails, watch out for the Dog Fennel, and take a moment to appreciate how this plant on the side of the trail has such a huge impact on 3rd graders in Collier County.

– Anne Reed

group of students on the CREW trails

Parents: Help Your Kids Get Their “Vitamin N”

3rd grader journaling at marsh

Vitamin N is another term for Nature. Time in nature can help reduce attention deficit, increase academic performance, and boost physical and mental health.

Richard Louv, author of the bestseller Last Child in the Woods, labeled the condition caused by Vitamin N deficiency when he wrote his seminal book. “The term Nature Deficit Disorder actually started out tongue-in-cheek, but it soon became apparent that the term—which is not a medical condition—finally put a face on the profound alienation that has occurred between children and nature over the last 30 years,” says Louv, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network. (source: Are Your Kids ‘Vitamin N’ Deficient? accessed at http://parade.condenast.com/222813/juliebawdendavis/are-your-kids-vitamin-n-deficient/)

CREW invites families with children ages 3 to 12 to come out to the CREW Marsh Trails on Saturday, November 1st for a morning walk. The walk includes simple activities that engage the senses and curiosity of children and help dispel fears of the outdoors.

Pre-registration is required and is open until October 28th, so register today at http://crewvitaminnwalk.eventbrite.com


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