Last Friday, I had the opportunity to stop in Northeast Florida for a sunset walk at the Fort Matanzas National Monument’s beach before attending a wonderful fall buffet at the historic home of outgoing Audubon of Florida Board Chairman John Hankinson and his wife Gail. The dinner was organized to thank supporters of our Northeast Florida Program and to show them some of the good work we are completing.
Despite the windy evening, Fort Matanzas National Monument’s beach allowed us good looks at a variety of shorebirds and seabirds. We had a special treat when some Wood Storks flew in to rest on the beach, close enough for us to admire their pink feet.
Further down the beach we saw two Piping Plovers, among other feeding shorebirds, and got a first hand experience of disturbance issues when an off-leash dog flushed a large group of gulls resting on the beach. We all witnessed how easily the birds got frightened by the dog.The magnificent orange and white beach, no longer scarred by tire ruts from automobiles, is an incredible natural resource for wildlife and citizens.
Later, we headed up to the Hankinson’s home and warmed up with oyster soup, music and lively conversation. It is with some sadness for Audubon that we bid John good-bye from his Audubon of Florida Board chairmanship position, as he begins his new appointment leading the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force.
As the night drew to a close, I could not help but think about how special Florida is to so many people. Audubon’s Northeast Program is a great example of staff, volunteers, chapters and members working together to help protect our state’s special places.
My sincere thanks go out to everyone involved in Audubon’s Northeast Program. It is your support that makes our success in this area possible.