Views from the trails this week

The water is here!

The number one question we are getting, whether by phone, email, or social media, is “are the trails wet?”

The answer is a resounding YES!

After such a dry end to our winter season, June brought us a refreshing dose of rain – over 20 inches. That’s a lot of rain!


And while it has meant a change in some of our visitor’s hiking plans, we are excited about the rain for a lot of reasons. The main reason is that, when you visit, you get to see our watershed at work.

The water that you see on the CREW Marsh Trails and Cypress Dome Trails is doing exactly what we want it to do – slowly move south through all of the vegetation on the CREW Project’s 60,000 acres, giving the water ample time to seep through the limestone and recharge our aquifer. And that means more water for us, the residents of Southwest Florida, and the plants and animals that call the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed home.

A Band-winged Dragonlet at the Cypress Dome Trails. Photographed by volunteer Dick Brewer.


We hope you’ll enjoy a few wet walks on our trails this summer and would love to see your pictures on our CREW Land & Water Trust Facebook Page! Or tag us on Instagram. See you on the trails!

It’s time to recharge

— by Anne Reed 


Today we went for a walk.

We weren’t leading a program, or assisting on a field trip. We weren’t removing invasive plants or trimming back brush around trail signs.

We were scouting the Marsh trails, trying to devise a different way to mark them other than names on signs. We scheduled ourselves to be out of the office for the morning on and headed out and just walked.

But by the end, though, it was more than a walk.

I’m not sure if you experience this but for me, getting out on the trails leaves me feeling rooted. Grounded.

Walking with someone and sharing that experience, the feeling of just being that you get when you get outside, it fosters conversations. And if you are alone, it makes for great conversation inside your head.

So what was unique today?

As we rounded the bend on the Pine Flatwoods trail, we saw mud.


Why did that mud make us so excited, so giddy?

Because that means our water is coming back. That means that water is flowing south and if we are seeing it at the Marsh trails, it will slowly make its way through the Corkscrew Marsh and on down to Bird Rookery Swamp. Rainy season is whispering its arrival, teasing us with a few showers here and there as the humidity creeps up.

We’re ready to recharge.

We read and say, all the time, that we need water to recharge our aquifer.

Being out there, though, and really seeing it – that’s something completely different. As we walked and we had actual stretches of water to walk around, there was this feeling of anticipation. Not just within myself, but all around. As if everything, from the sawgrass to the trees to the wildflowers, was holding its breath, ready and waiting for those beautiful afternoon thunderstorms to sweep through and bring growth, renewal.

In a way, May is not just a recharging time for the lands within the CREW Project, but a way for us to recharge as well. Our busy season is over, traffic is lighter and as the temperatures creep up, everyone slows down.

Today was just one of those rare days when sunshine, good company, a nice breeze and little bit of mud were the the prefect combination to leave us feeling grounded, rooted and a bit recharged.

Want to see this what we saw today? At the Marsh Trails, take the Pine Flatwoods trail to the Alternative Marsh Loop, to the Observation Tower, then out to the Popash Slough.

We do need a lot more rain, but it does feel nice to see the water slowly making its return.


A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- Water on the Trails

Black and White Warbler
Bird Rookery Swamp observations
Saturday, September 5 ~ 7:15 am1:15 pm
“Below are my observations from today at Bird Rookery Swamp (BRS). Not a bad day for birding, especially with more Barn Swallows over the meadow opposite the start of the boardwalk and a small “flock” of Eastern Kingbirds between markers 6 & 3. Attached is a photo of a Black-and-white Warbler that was prying little insects from bark crevices in a cypress near Ida’s Pond; it has one in its bill. Ida wasn’t visible while either going out or coming back. Several pairs of hikers armed with cameras were on the trails plus two bicyclers; the bikers turned back a little past marker 3 toward marker 6 when the mud got slippery and the water was flowing over the trail. Other than that, a nice day!

Black and White Warbler
Black and White Warbler

Anhinga – 1
Great Blue Heron – 2
Great Egret – 4
Snowy Egret – 9
Little Blue Heron – 11
Tri-colored Heron – 10
Green Heron – 8
White Ibis – 6
Black Vulture – 71
Turkey Vulture – 12
Red-shouldered Hawk – 7
Mourning Dove – 2
Common Ground Dove – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 13
Pileated Woodpecker – 5
Great-crested Flycatcher – 2
Eastern Kingbird – 7
Barn Swallow – 46
Blue Jay – 5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 3
Tufted Titmouse – 10
Carolina Wren – 12
Northern Mockingbird – 1
White-eyed Vireo – 13
Prothonotary Warbler – 1
Northern Parula – 1
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Ovenbird – 1
Louisiana Waterthrush – 1
Northern Cardinal – 12
Common Grackle – 7

Palamedes Swallowtail – 11
Spicebush Swallowtail – 4
Ruddy Daggerwing – 8
Zebra Longwing – 1
White Peacock – 15
Gulf Fritillary – 1
Viceroy – 1
Common Buckeye – 1
Pearl Crescent – 1
Cloudless Sulphur – 3
Brazilian Skipper – 7
Silver-spotted Skipper – 1
Tropical Checker – 2

Eastern Pondhawk – 34
Eastern Amberwing – 2
Blue Dasher – 3

Raccoon – 2
Cottontail Rabbit – 1

Alligator – 39
Brown Anole – 13
Red-bellied Turtle – 1
Pig Frog – 17
Greenhouse Frog – 2
Green Treefrog – 1
Cuban Treefrog – 1 “

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:




Deb Hanson in News-Press video on Rainfall

Deb Hanson in water (Photo by Andrew West/News-Press)
Deb Hanson in water (Photo by Andrew West/News-Press)

The CREW Land & Water Trust’s environmental education specialist, Deb Hanson, went for a rainy season walk through the White loop at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails last week with news-Press reporter Chad Gillis and photographer Andrew West. Today, the News-Press published the article about rainfall in southwest Florida, and Deb is featured on the front page of the print paper and on a video here on the News-Press website. Nice to see CREW in the newspaper. Thanks to Chad and Andrew for both the fun walk and the great spread in the paper!


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