Category Archives: wildlife

Documenting the Discharges, June 2018, SLR/IRL

When the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon start to deteriorate due to discharges, things start going downhill fast. And when my husband Ed and I start taking and sharing aerial photos, my world becomes a bit chaotic.

Sometimes there are days of hundreds of photos to look through, and knowing the importance of getting them out immediately, choices have to be made. Facebook is a better medium than my blog for real-time info as it takes less time, but my blog is better for historic documentation as it is “permanent.”

So today I am sharing more of Ed’s photos from 6-5-18, and some you may have already seen. Mind you, after heavy rains, stormwater has been pouring in from many canals but, always, like clockwork, after the ACOE starts discharging from Lake Okeechobee, the river looks not just cloudy-coffee brown, but contaminated.

The ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee on  6-1-18, and as most of you know, now, there are not only algae blooms spotted in the lake, as Ed accidentally found on 6-2-18, and others also documented, but also in the St Lucie River. More than likely, there will be more and more  algae bloom popping up as the Lake O water makes its way down the estuary, over the tip of Sewall’s Point, towards the St Lucie Inlet. Algae floating down the river is disgusting enough, but toxicity is the real question…

Ed and I will take and share more aerials  in the future, to document the algae blooms should they explode, but until then, here are some photographs from 6-5-18 that I had not yet archived on my blog. Sadly enough, although there is no algae in these pictures, I cannot say they will make you feel any better.

Never take the pressure off politicians to build the EAA Reservoir and get it to where it needs to be to clean and filter this water to send south as Nature intended.  Government knowingly contaminating its citizens is not an option. Health, Safety and Welfare is a responsibility.

Photos taken 6-5-18 showing SLR/ILR near Sewall’s Point; Jupiter Narrows; Atlantic Ocean/beach over nearshore reefs along Jupiter Island just south of St Lucie Inlet; out in ocean near Peck’s Lake; Sailfish Point/Sailfish Flats area; and Bird Island, a Critical Wildlife Area, for many threatened and endangered birds.

SLR on west /IRL on east – looking towards Sewall’s Point
Jupiter Narrows near St Lucie Inlet
A Coffee Ocean along Jupiter Island just south of St Lucie Inlet
Discharges in waves looking east to Peck’s Lake
Discharges going over near shore “protected” reefs
Discharge plume
Plume out about 2 miles in Atlantic/documented at 5 over days by fisher people
Similar photos give felling of flying over
Reefs with plume coming on
Selfish Point and Sailfish Flats area one the “most biologically diverse in North America.” Seagrass is gone due to receptive discharges episodes
Circling home- close up souther tip of Sewall’s Point
Again circling ove Sailfish Flats on way back to Witham Field.
Bird Island just off of southeast Sewall’s Point is home to hundreds/thousands of birds. Many threatened and endangered species raise their young on this island that was designated a CWA or Critical Wildlife Area by FWC in 2014. At the time it was the first to be designated in 20 years.

Our Most Beautiful Bird of Prey, Right in Our Backyard! SLR/IRL

Steve Duffy, taking photos in his backyard, Stuart, Florida.

I don’t ever remember seeing them here when I was a kid. But then in the 1970s there were no osprey in Stuart either …

The first time I saw a Swallow-Tailed Kite, “our most beautiful bird of prey,” was in Okeechobee. The distinctive soft-feathered black and white hawks fly in broad circles. Their sharp forked-tails gliding them stealth-like over the pine trees….

Just a few years ago, seeing my first one, I pulled over my car. “What is that?” I thought , not thinking much more about it. Thinking it must be a bird of Lake Okeechobee.

And then somehow over the years they seemed to pop up everywhere, not just at Lake Okeechobee. I saw when driving north on I95, driving south to West Palm Beach, and yes, even driving in the my hometown region of South Sewall’s Point! I came to consider them a new gift, a good luck symbol. Something beautiful. Something to give me hope as the river dies before me.

But I really did not know anything about them. Until recently that is….

At last month’s March for Maddy, (https://www.crowdrise.com/marchformaddie), I ran into an old friend from Martin County High School, Steve Duffy. He was carrying a camera around his neck and shared some of his photographs. I was astounded. There were photos of hummingbirds, dragonflies, and other animals, but what really caught my eye was what I was calling a “Kite.” That beautiful bird.

I thought Steve must be going somewhere distant to get such shots, but he laughed and told me they were taken right in his backyard!

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“Near North River Shores.”

Thank you to Steve who agreed to share his photos on my blog of the rare and properly named Swallow-Tailed Kite, also known as the Swallow-Tailed Hawk. And it’s clear. We may see more of them. They love it here! 🙂

“Our most beautiful bird of prey, striking in its shape, its pattern, and its extraordinarily graceful flight. Hanging motionless in the air, swooping and gliding, rolling upside down and then zooming high in the air with scarcely a motion of its wings, the Swallow-tailed Kite is a joy to watch. At one time it was common in summer over much of the southeast, but today it is found mostly in Florida and a few other areas of the deep south.” Audubon Society, 2018

Audubon 1: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/swallow-tailed-kite

Audubon 2: https://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/swallow-tailed-hawk

Jacqui:

All of these pics are taken just off my back patio are with my Nikon D5500 camera and telephoto lens. These are a pair of swallow-tailed kites courting then mating above the tree approximately 100-150 ft away. And then to my delight the pair landed and mated in my pines.

Swallow-tailed Kites are raptors (birds of prey) very distinct because of their black and white color and forked-tails with wing spans of 3.5 – 4.5 feet.

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Steve 

In the Garden of Impatience, SLR/IRL

“Patience is a virtue…” 

Yesterday, I went to my garden. A garden for butterflies that I planted in 2011 during my mayorship for the Town of Sewall’s Point.

It was at this time, that I realized I needed a place to go, close to home, to get away, when I was grinding my teeth so hard at night that I would awake with headaches. This garden has calmed many nerves, and brought both beauty and delight to Ed and my home.

I learn a lot of lessons from my garden. But I still have a lot to learn…

…Upon getting the newspaper from the driveway, I noticed a monarch butterfly that had just emerged from its chrysalis drying its wings on the shrimp plant by my front door. The orange, black, and white pattern against green and red was quite striking. I decided to do something I have never done, watch the butterfly dry its wings, and to wait to watch it fly off.

Every few minutes its stain-glassed wings would open to the sun and wind, and then it would sit motionless. When its wings opened again, I could see its body tighten and contort, pumping liquid deep into its wings. It looked uncomfortable this miraculous metamorphosis. Finally, it seemed erect and proud; I kept waiting for it to fly off, but it didn’t.

I counted the white spots on its wings and body to pass time. I studied its bizarre mouth and antennae. I laid on the ground. I took pictures. I tried to be patient. I thought about all I needed to do. I thought about how I would be breaking a deal with myself ~to see a newborn butterfly fly away, if I walked off.

“Come on butterfly!” I said. “You can do it!” But it did not fly off. It just sat there.

I thought about how in the garden there is no rush, as in my own life, to finish the “task.”  Things take the time needed to take, and that is all…

I waited. I wondered. I wished.

I started to get impatient.

“I can’t believe I am losing my patience with a butterfly,” I thought. “This is not good; my plan is backfiring.”

I took some breaths, calmed myself down, and tried to be like nature. Ever-present. Ever-enduring, patient in my Garden of Impatience…

It did not work. I noticed I was grinding my teeth. ” I’ve got so much to do!” I walked two steps towards the rose-bush, just to regroup, taking my eyes off the butterfly for the very first time… It could not have been more than a second.

When I turned around, the butterfly was gone!

I smiled, in disbelief, thinking for a moment “I can’t believe I wasted all this time,” looking into the sky for fluttering wings, but there were none. There was just the sound of the wind and the warmth of the sun — the eternal.

There is no time wasted in the lessons of nature, I suppose…

I walked back into the house “to get things done.”  🙂

Monarch Butterflies, Florida,IFAS, UF:http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw311

“Look Who Showed Up Last Night” Sailfish Point’s 16th Hole, IRL Eagle Pair! SLR/IRL

Photo of eagle pair at 16th hole at Sailfish Point’s golf course, photo by Susan Kane taken the evening of 3-17-18

🦅

Some things are so beyond words, so wonderful, so “perfect,” that you just have to wonder….

Yesterday morning, on Sunday, March 18th, the day after I had written a blog post about meeting Mrs Susan Kane, and her sharing her eagle photo the night before, –and my noting that I had never seen a eagle along the Indian River Lagoon, or the pair that is rumored to hunt there– she sends me this photo above along with a short message: “Look who showed up last night.”

Call it coincidence, call it a God-wink, or maybe the eagles read my blog!

In any case, such experiences make life absolutely the best! 😁

Thanks Susan! Thank you eagles❤️🇺🇸 Fly high and may the SLR/IRL waters be clear and clean so you can catch the fish!🐟

Previous post: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2018/03/17/the-eagle-of-the-16th-hole-sailfish-point-slr-irl/

The Eagle of the 16th Hole, Sailfish Point, SLR/IRL

Eagle, Sailfish Point, 3-18, by Susan Kane

Last evening, at a gathering of friends of my mothers, I met Mrs Susan Kane. The conversation started as usual with someone I do not know, but quickly, somehow, the our words turned to eagles living along the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon.

I told Susan, I had never seen one here flying, ever, but I knew they were here as Greg Braun, formerly of Audubon, took photos of one sitting on a rock at Bird Island…. I  had also heard that there was a pair that hunted from a tall, dead, Australian Pine tree by the Marriott’s Indian River Plantation Marina. But again, although I walk the bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island quite often, I had never seen them…Once, while driving on Highway 76  in Indiantown, I did see an eagle, and was so excited that I parked my car on the side of the road and with trucks zooming by I watched it soar. I was smiling from ear to ear.

Susan listened politely, and then replied, “Well recently, Jacqui,  I took a photograph of an eagle on the 16th hole of the Sailfish Point golf course.”

“You’re kidding?” I inquired.

“Yes, the eagle captured a fish right there in the pond at the 16th hole of the golf course.”

“That’s incredible.” I replied, taking a large sip of my cocktail, to hide my bird envy.

Over the course of dinner, Susan pulled out her photos and shared. They are wonderful! And today I am sharing her photos with you.

Look at this eagle. Its expression!

What a sight I hope I get to see! 🙂

Eagle of Sailfish Point, by Susan Kane
Photo by Susan Kane
Photo by Susan Kane

Sailfish Point: http://www.sailfishpoint.com

Former post on eagles of the IRL:
https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/11/21/id-rather-be-an-eagle-than-a-turkey-st-luice-riverindian-river-lagoon/

Thank you Susan for sharing your photos of the eagle of Sailfish Point along the Indian River Lagoon!!!

Update on the Constitution Revision Commission and Our Environment

Early in 2017, the work of the Constitution Revision Commission began. There were multiple public hearings around the state and thousands of public proposals were submitted for consideration. Out of the two thousand or so proposals, 103 of these were chosen by commissioners to be sponsored, or considered. 37 made it through the arduous committee process. Here is a list of those 37: http://flcrc.gov/PublishedContent/ADMINISTRATIVEPUBLICATIONS/CRCActiveProposalsHearings2018.pdf

Mind you, this list is difficult to interpret unless you go to the CRC website, hit the “Proposals” tab and  put in the number of the proposal to read the text along with the details. This takes a lot of work. http://flcrc.gov

An easier approach, to get an idea of each of the 37 proposals, is to refer to this Sun Sentinel article that list all 103 proposals with a short summary: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/florida-politics-blog/fl-reg-constitution-revision-commission-final-proposals-20171120-story.html Obviously, just go the numbers and read “the 37,” from the first list I provided. You may need to print them out.

In the end, only a few of these 37 will be placed on the ballot for voter consideration. The full CRC will determine this after the second round of public hearings that is happening now.

As far as my proposals. I had 5 environmental proposals: #23 A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment; #24 Commissioner of Environmental Protection; #46 Clarifying Amendment 1, Land Acquisition Trust Fund; #48 FWC/Wildlife Corridors; and #91 No Oil and Gas Drilling in Floirda’s Territorial Seas.

One proposal made it through committee out of five. P91 or “No Oil and Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Seas” I am thankful, and cannot look back, or mope over what did not get through; I  must now turn all of my energy to this one proposal. And a remarkable proposal it is! I hope you will support it too, even if you had your hopes up for one of the others, as P91 is the sole environmental proposal of the 37, and a monumental opportunity.

This proposal would protect our territorial seas, our state waters, the waters under our jurisdiction. These waters have been drilled before and, hands down, if the oil and gas industry can, they will influence our state legislature so that they can drill our coastal waters again. There is no doubt about it. Just study history!

If this proposal makes it to the ballot it will be absolutely historic. Don’t think about the politics, think about the legacy. We would be the only state in the nation to have this in our state constitution. This would sound a loud environmental message, forever…

We all know, drilling so close to shore, as is done in other coastal southern states, would be visually, environmentally, and economically destructive to Florida’s unique/peninsular marine, wildlife, real estate, and tourism resources.

It is written in Article II of our state constitutional that “we shall protect our natural resources and scenic beauty.” P91 belongs in Florida’s Constitution. It would be an enormous statement on behalf of the people of Florida and would have major policy implications on many, many levels.

Thank you for following the CRC process and I will keep you appraised of P91 as the CRC process continues and we move towards what gets on the ballot for 2018.

In the meanwhile here is the CRC’s second round public hearing schedule:https://www.flcrc.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/1071

You are welcome to speak and encouraged to attend!

Jacqui

Florida Channel videos of all CRC meetings: https://thefloridachannel.org/programs/constitution-revision-commission/

_MG_1455a_small_Robert_Holland_original

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the 2018 CRC:http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Paynes Prairie ~A Lake With a Road Through It…

I remember my historian mother telling me that Paynes Prairie was once a giant lake and that in the mid-1800s, before a sinkhole drained the lake, famed pioneer and pineapple farmer, Capt. Thomas E. Richards sailed from the St Johns River, in Jacksonville, over the lake, only to wind up at the Indian River Lagoon in Eden, near today’s Jensen.

Well this past Friday, on my way to Gainesville for the “Future of Florida Summit” (http://www.futureoffloridasummit.com) Paynes Prairie looked like it had become a lake once again. Although it is not a truly a lake any longer, it must be flooded as the prairie’s water levels go up and down.

As my grandparents lived in Gainesville and I graduated from UF, I have driven across the prairie many times, but seeing it from the air “all wet looking” really took me aback.  Like a miniature Tamiami Trail, one could see Highway 441 going right through this “lake!”

Apparently in 2000, eco-underpasses were installed as it has been widely documented that thousands of animals, mostly reptiles, have been killed on this road. And yet, many animals, reptiles and other, continue to be killed.

I know it would be expensive, but since transportation is perhaps one of the most highly funded of all state departments, in the billions and billions of dollars, and since Florida’s wildlife and natural lands rank as a portion of the state’s number one economic driver, tourism… could not, over time, Hwy. 441 become more like the Tamiami Trail is becoming, more bridged than flat…

It just doesn’t make sense to have a lake, or an Everglades, with a road through it.

Ed and I, a selfie on the way to Gainesville
A rainbow in the sky

Links:

Paynes Prairie website: web site: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Paynes-Prairie

Good historical article on Paynes Prairie: Chicago Tribune1991:http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1991-12-29/travel/9104260758_1_wild-horses-bison-spanish-florida

FDOT http://www.fdot.gov

2017-18, Funding for FDOT, state of Florida: https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2017/02/01/see-which-local-highway-port-programs-just-got.html

Abstract, animal mortality along 441 in Paynes Prairie and eco-underpass: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24321153