Hillsborough County Extension Office
5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL
ARCI is a publicly supported nonprofit corporation [501(c)(3)] whose mission is to conduct research on vulnerable species of birds that will stimulate effective conservation action. Research in Florida, Georgia, Mexico, Belize, Brazil, and the Caribbean has focused on the nesting and wintering ecology, habitat selection, demography, migration, and conservation biology of Swallow-tailed Kites, Short-tailed Hawks, White-crowned Pigeons, Wood Storks, Snail Kites, Jabiru Storks, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers Reddish Egrets, Great White Herons, Magnificent Frigatebirds, and the avian communities of south Florida’s pinelands.
In 2002, and again in 2014, ARCI received a Partners in Flight National Research Award for research and conservation planning for Swallow-tailed Kites; and In 2005, a National Wildlife Stewardship Award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative for cooperative studies of Swallow-tailed Kites.
Kenneth Meyer, Ph.D. Zoology is an, Associate Professor (Adjunct), Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
The Blackwater Creek Nature Preserve in Plant City promises to have a great display of fall wildflowers. Two SNPS members visited the preserve in July and the goldenrod, narrow-leaf sunflowers and paintbrush were already starting to bloom. The pristine habitats include pine flatwoods, palmetto prairie and riverine swamp, interspersed with oak hammock, cypress swamp, freshwater marsh and wet prairie. In addition to its diverse plant life, deer, wild turkey, Sherman's fox squirrel, and a variety of birds may be seen.
The trail is 4 miles, but there are cross trails to return sooner for those who prefer a shorter hike. For those who do the entire hike, expect to be in the preserve for at least 4 hours. But, you don't have to walk far to appreciate the beauty of this preserve. From the parking lot, the trail traverses a couple miles of pine flatwoods filled with sweeping grasses and colorful wildflowers. Plants in the pine flatwoods include a dense understory of saw palmetto, gallberry, wax myrtle, wiregrass, and broomsedge. Drier areas contain sand live oak, paw paw, shiny blueberry, while wet areas are dotted with hat pins, gallberry, and St. John's wort.
Our halfway stop will be Blackwater Creek, where we will stop for lunch while enjoying beautiful views of the water. This area of the preserve is also known for its diverse plant life. Canopy species include bald cypress, cabbage palm, American elm, pop ash, black gum, water oak, laurel oak, water hickory, red maple, and hackberry. Shrubs under the tree canopy include button bush, bumelia, swamp dogwood, shiny lyonia, wax myrtle, and wild coffee.
The preserve is also dotted with cypress swamp, wet prairie and freshwater marshes where we are sure to see many more plants, such as pipe wort, marsh pennywort, smart weed, broomsedge, and soft rush. Deeper wetlands support pickerelweed, duck potato, soft rush, and spikerush. variety of ferns, spoon flower, lizard’s tail, day flower, star rush, wild petunia, and water grass may also be seen.
As usual, bring plenty of water, insect repellant and sunscreen. Also, if you plan to hike to the river, bring a lunch or snacks.
Additional information and events may be found on our Calendar Page.
Banner: Tarflower & Bee by Donna Bollenbach