“Each moment of the year has its own beauty . . . a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Gopher tortoises live in dry, upland habitats that have well-drained soils for them to dig their burrows. Their common habitat includes: pine flatwoods, xeric oak, sand pine, scrub oak, agricultural lands, and coastal dune and scrub. Their diet consists of grasses and legumes. The Gopher Tortoise is listed as a threatened species.
A common forest-dwelling hawk of the East and California, the Red-shouldered Hawk favors woodlands near water, but may also nest in suburban areas. It is perhaps the most vocal American hawk. It preys on snakes and frogs. It also eats insects and small mammals. Its call is a loud two syllable scream.
Corn snakes are slender with a length of 24 to 72 inches. They feed on mice, rats, birds, and bats. They are constrictors. They are found in the eastern United States from southern New Jersey south through Florida, west to Louisiana and parts of Kentucky. They help to control rodent populations that may otherwise spread disease
The river otter is a long, elongated water-loving animal found throughout Florida except the Keys. This playful animal is found from Mexico north to Alaska. They are especially abundant throughout Canada. Otters inhabit lakes ponds, marshes and inland waterways.
The Florida Box Turtle is one of the well known subspecies of Eastern Box Turtle. Box Turtles are usually seen early in the day, or after a rain. They are fond of slugs, earthworms, wild strawberries, and mushrooms. If habitat conditions remain constant, a Box Turtle may spend its life in an area scarcely larger than a football field.
This small Endangered Turtle at maturity reaches only about five inches and is easily identified by its three yellow or creamy beige stripes. The Striped Mud Turtle prefers swampy, shallow, still waters and is found most anywhere in Florida. The Striped Mud Turtle is omnivorous and will investigate nearly anything it comes across, including cow dung.
Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. They live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species with claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.
Bobcats can be found in every county in Florida and in most states in the country. They are so named because of their ‘bobbed’ tail. The eastern cottontail, marsh rabbit and cotton rat are their primary prey. By feeding on these animals, the bobcat provides a necessary control on their populations.
Eastern River Cooters are capable of growing up to 16 inches (41 cm). The upper shell is typically dark greenish-brown with pale yellow markings. The skin is dark green with yellow stripes down the neck and legs. The bottom shell is yellow with a dark pattern that follows the scute seams. They are often confused with yellow-bellied sliders, which also have yellow stripes and yellow bottom shells, but the latter have green spots along their bellies.
As these turtles grow older, they tend to become very darker, obscuring much of the shell design. Wide, sometimes dark-edged, stripes under the chin form an upside-down “Y”. Males have a broader tail and may have a slightly concave bottom shell. Females tend to grow larger than males, and have a smaller tail and more convex bottom shell.
The Wekiva Wilderness Trust is a non-profit volunteer organization controlled by an elected board of officers and directors. Every member of the board has to agree to comply with the WWT Code of Ethics. To read the Code please go to the Volunteer page.
Feb 21 2 pm.Edible Florida and Basic Survival Techniques Don P.
Feb 28 10 am. Florida’s Springs and the Wekiwa Watershed. April
March 7 10 am. Successful composting. Sue
March 14 10 am.Prescribed burns explained. Ranger
March 21 10 am.Walking Wekiva. How to get the most out of the trails.* Don B
March 28 10 am. Florida’s threatened wildlife. Debbie
April 4 10 am. Edible Florida and Basic Survival Techniques Don P.
* Some walking required
We will be holding our next basic survival boot camp on Saturday January 11 from 10 am to 4 pm. It will be at Rock Springs Run State Reserve which is off SR 46 near Sorrento. From the Wekiva area take Markham Wood Road north until you reach SR 46. Make a left turn and proceed for about three miles or so and the entrance to the park will be on your left. It is shortly after you go over the bear crossing underpass. We will meet up just inside the entrance and then convoy to our training area. You do not have to pay the entry fee.
The course has been designed for family group participation so everyone knows what to do if a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster destroyed their homes. Of course, all the techniques are good skills to use in the great outdoors. The boot camp will cover survival techniques, field first aid, foraging for food and water, building a shelter and lighting a fire (bow and drill technique).
Apart from water, bug spray, sun screen and lunch, you will each need:
– About 20 feet of strong string, parachute cord or similar
– Two large black garbage bags and a knife.
The cost for the workshop is $10 a person payable on the day and if you have any questions please call me at 321-277-8442 or email [email protected]
It will be fun and informative, best wishes, don
It’s been another busy year in the park with lots for all our volunteers to do.
Construction of the new Interpretive Pavilion which will house the new nature
center, is also complete. The move will allow the concession to expand and,
hopefully, make lots more money for the park, and our new location is going to
be much more prominent—at the top of the green above the springs so everyone
should be able to see us.
The move will be a complicated one but we hope the downtime when the nature
center is closed can be kept to a minimum. It will also allow us to plan the new
nature centre so that we can better display our exhibits and have more hands-on
activities for the children.
The 26th Annual Real Florida 5K and 10K race and fun walk took place in the
park on February 23rd and the annual PaintOut, sponsored by Wekiva Island
and WSSP, took place from March 3-10th. Both events were very successful
and between them made a profit of almost $15,000. Next year’s Real Florida
run is on Saturday, February 22 and the Paint Out runs from March 2-8.
River Patrol goes from strength to strength with 10 new volunteers successfully
completing the water safety training course. As a result, we were able to have
volunteers patrolling the Wekiva in force each day of the Labor Day holiday
weekend. Another training class will be held soon and if you are interested in
taking this to volunteer for River Patrol, let me know.
Volunteers act as ambassadors—able to answer questions, help river users in
trouble and look out for fallen trees and other maintenance tasks that need to be
done. The presence of the River Patrol also discourages people from breaking
park and river rules and regulations. It is fun, rewarding and necessary so please
We’d love to welcome you on board.
For whole newsletter and great photos of the new pavilion click link below:
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We have broken ground on the new interpretive pavilion and nature center and you should see some pretty rapid developments from now on. The area has been pegged out and the heavy equipment is preparing the site for the foundations. Once the concrete has been laid the pavilion will be erected and then the nature center will be incorporated into it. It will take a few months but the new pavilion is in a much better location so should attract many more visitors. Part of the pavilion is going to be used for interpretive programs and an outside classroom for use by all the schools in the tri-county area we serve. If you would like more information or would like to donate please contact us at [email protected]