Saturday, May 11, 2013

Lake Lotus Science Incubator Dedication

Seminole County has been running a new thing called the Altamonte Springs Science Incubator since last Fall. Part of that involves taking county school kids on field trips to the water treatment plant and to Lake Lotus and engaging them in scientific experiments in hopes of getting kids to take up science or related avocations as a profession. The park rangers developed teaching modules and the program has been well received and on May 10th they finally had the official dedication which featured local leaders and partners.

I arrived well before the crowds and decided to do a little birding before the speeches began. The newest thing you cannot ignore is the new sign at the parking lot. They threw this thing up in a couple days not long ago.

New Science Incubator Sign

I headed out to the pier but did not find many birds but I was glad I spotted a Green Heron hunting just before the boardwalks heads back into the trees.

Green Heron

It was fun to watch it stalk and it eventually moved to another spot in front of me for another nice pose.

Green Heron

Under the shade of the cypress and oaks, a Golden-silk Spider sits in wait. Not the best shot of this species I have but it does show off the 'golden' webbing that provides the name.

Golden-silk Spider

At the end of the boardwalk I almost stepped on this Eastern Click Beetle.

Eastern Click Beetle

Back at the sign, the rangers posed with the school kids that arrived to help out later in the morning.

Rangers and Kids

Since the kids were going to be shown what they would be helping with I headed back toward the pier to get in position for some photos. On the way out I found a Southeastern Five-lined Skink. A beautiful little rainbow.

Southeastern Five-lined Skink

I was hearing a lot of American Redstarts this morning but they were usually high up. I focused on one of the males and, thankfully, he popped out into view for about 4 seconds before disappearing again.

American Redstart

Suddenly, a Tufted Titmouse family flew in. The adults were being harassed by all the kids in tow. One of the adults paused briefly across the river and I got a shot. If you look closely, really closely, you can just make out that this is one of the birds I have banded. Another of our locals with a successful brood is great news.

Tufted Titmouse

Out at the lake, Frank showed one set of students what they would be doing when they had to show the guests one of the elements of the Incubator modules.


The middle of the pier had a larger setup where Steve instructed another set of students.


Out of nowhere, a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks flew by and then off into the maple trees along the lake.

Red-shouldered Hawk

I won't show all the different speakers for the event. You wouldn't know any of them anyway. After they spoke, I grabbed my parting gift (a little flip-cube with the partner names on it) and headed toward the parking lot. I was actually pretty surprised to hear Cedar Waxwings still calling from the area of the Cherry Tree over on our banding side. It took me a few minutes but I could finally make a few of them out hiding in the leaves.

Cedar Waxwing

Thanks to the rangers for thinking of me and inviting me to this dedication. Glad to be part of the family for the past 5 years and this new funding will offer students a great opportunity. If we can ever swing it, we hope to get a weekday or two to be out at the banding site so they can get that experience, too.

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