Hope For Hammock’s Gopher Tortoise Population

Hammock Park’s gopher tortoise population has been deemed unsustainable, but recently there have been four separate sightings of juvenile tortoises within the park boundaries.

Several juvenile gopher tortoises were spotted this year.

Several juvenile gopher tortoises were spotted this year.

A juvenile tortoise near home.

A juvenile tortoise near home.

The 2013 Hammock Management Plan identified 14 burrows found by a mapping-grade GPS, with several other burrows identified on the periphery of the park.  The purchase of the adjacent church property in 2017 was a vital step in protecting an additional 8 acres known to be a tortoise habitat. Motivated by the possibility of an increase tortoise population, the Friends of the Hammock contracted with biologist George Heinrich of Heinrich Ecological Services to conduct an extensive survey that will determine the estimated population and provide information to be used to guide habitat management.

The $3,520 study, following the guideline of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, will be conducted February 15–29, 2020.  It will require 80 volunteers from the Dunedin community and help from Heinrich’s list of universities, conservation groups and Tampa Bay parks and preserves volunteers. Participants will receive 2 hours of in-service training and be asked to donate at least 6 hours of time in the Hammock.  The field study will take about a week and the entire project about 88 hours to complete. At the end of the project a guided interpretive gopher tortoise hike in the Hammock is planned to explain the findings and demonstrate what can be done to protect them.  With an accurate knowledge base, implementing proper management of the Hammock tortoise population will contribute to the conservation of this threatened Florida species.

Mr. Heinrich will conduct a presentation on gopher tortoise ecology, conservation, habitat management and the plans for the survey for the general public. Those wishing to volunteer are urged to attend.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Dr. William Hale Senior Center, Sunshine Room
330 Douglas Avenue, Dunedin

heinrichecologicalservices.com


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Volunteers Needed For A Gopher Tortoise Count In Hammock Park

Learn how you can be a part of a scientific survey to determine how many endangered gopher tortoises inhabit Hammock Park. Attend the presentation and join!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Dr. William Hale Senior Center, Sunshine Room
330 Douglas Avenue, Dunedin

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Fall  Migration Bird Banding Research Project In Hammock Park

You are invited observe a bird banding conservation project in the Hammock and talk with the researchers who study these birds.

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) in the park. Photo: Don Solari

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) in the park. Photo: Don Solari

Environmental educator and master bander Jim McGinity will highlight one of the most spectacular events throughout the Americas... Bird Migration. Learn firsthand the important role of Hammock Park to a wide variety of migratory birds and what part the park plays in this research study. The research crew has moved to Caladesi Island, but will be banding birds for a special one-day-only in the Hammock.

Saturday, October 19, 2019
BANDING  FROM 8:00 AM To NOON
RESEARCHERS WILL BE ON KETTLES TRAIL
(SOUTH EAST OF PALM TRAIL)

hammockbirdbanding.wordpress.com


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Butterflies — Hammock’s Flower Trekkers

Two dozen butterfly aficionados battled 90° temperatures and mosquitoes to follow butterfly expert Tim Adams on a 2-hour discovery trek through the Hammock on June 15th.

Their goal was to count and identify the brightly colored butterflies that grace the park. 74 butterflies were counted and classified into 16 species. Noteworthy finds were a southern skipperling and an American lady. The skipperling is the smallest member of the North American skipper butterfly family.

Hammock Park Butterfly Count 2019

Tiger swallowtail — 1 Cassius blue — 2
Giant swallowtail — 1 Gulf frittilary — 2
Spicebush swallowtail — 5 White peacock — 31
Polydamas swallowtail — 1 Zebra longwing — 4
Dainty sulphur — 5 American lady — 1
Ceraunus blue — 3 Monarch — 5
Viceroy — 1 Fiery skipper — 6
White checkered skipper — 4 Southern skipperling — 1
Horace’s dustwing — 1  

Fern Trail Renovation Help Needed

The restoration and boardwalk construction for Fern Trail is slated to begin in the Fall. Fern Trail passes through one of the Hammock's most ecologically sensitive areas, and to protect it, the trail is being upgraded. The trail is subject to flooding during our rainy season, and the boardwalk will protect both visitors and the sensitive plants along the trail.


Close up shows delicate toungue that catches lunch! Photo: Don Solari

Close up shows delicate toungue that catches lunch! Photo: Don Solari


Hammock Park Land Purchase Awarded $250,000 grant from BP Settlement

The 8 (MOL) acres of ecologically sensitive "Scrubby Flatwoods" acquired last year, received an generous $250,000 grant from the Pinellas County Commission at its December 13th meeting. The commission voted unanimously to spend $7.1 million from a settlement of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (see story below "It's Unanimous" for background.) 


It's Unanimous!

Dunedin Votes Unanimously to Annex and Preserve Environmentally Sensitive Land. As a Result, Hammock Park Grows to Nearly 100-Acres. 

The 8 (MOL) acres of land is an an ecological area designated as "Scrubby Flatwoods". The key characteristics are the presence of an open canopy of slash and sand pine, with a saw palmetto understory containing intermittent patches of bare, white sands. Small areas of blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites), goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) as well as narrowleaf silk grass also persist in small openings. This community occurs on gentle sloping terrain supporting moderately drained soils. Though this habitat is relatively small in size, it represents a unique habitat relative to the predominance of other mesic/hydric habitats found in the park and provides the only suitable habitat for a small population of the State listed threatened gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), requiring proper management. 

News Archive on This Issue:  

Dunedin commissioners approve purchase of Catholic church land near Hammock Park

City leaders may have chance to save land near Hammock Park

Tortoises or townhomes? City, residents tangle over fate of church-owned land near Hammock Park

Nearly 100 Dunedin residents protest local church's plan to sell to developers


Stories that caught our eye

Dunedin to close on land near Hammock Park

TAMPA BAY TIMES »

Plan to buy land near Dunedin's Hammock Park may get $250,000 in BP money

TAMPA BAY TIMES »

Taylor Morrison Drops Tides GC Development Plans

CLUB & RESORT BUSINESS »

Neighbors, environmentalists applaud deal to buy land near Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Tampa Bay Times »

Friends of the Hammock Winning the War on Air Potatoes

DUNEDIN BEACON »

People and Trees: An Intimate Connection

AMERICAN FORESTS »

This is Your Brain on Nature, January 2016

National Geographic »