Conference Field Trip Follow-up: Camp Lonesome Conservation Area

Camp Lonesome Field Trip Follow up 
Submitted by Jenny Welch, Sparkleberry Chapter

If you were swayed to go on the Camp Lonesome Field Trip by Jenny's pre-conference blog, then you were one of the lucky ones. Here Jenny provides a follow up on the plants and animals observed at this very special place: 

On our way to Camp Lonesome there were two crested caracaras beside the road, and we saw turkeys with cute babies. Beautiful bright yellow meadowlarks were singing melodiously, as if to welcome us as we drove up to the gate.  A loggerhead shrike was catching breakfast in the field as we gathered to begin our hike, and blue gray gnatcatchers, northern parulas, and cardinals were calling from the trees as we started to walk.

We could tell Camp Lonesome was very dry from the ongoing drought because the gallberry had dropped their leaves and the normally wet areas were completely dry. Even drought resilient ferns were brown. But, despite the drought we could smell the aromatically sweet fragrance of the blooms of the blue and green saw palmetto.  A few ripe blackberries were still clinging to the prickly bushes waiting to be eaten by hungry birds.

We came upon a beautiful resident of Camp Lonesome; a black racer snake that everyone enjoyed looking at.

In the canopies of the cabbage palm hammock and oak tree hammock there was still some green to be found: wild coffee, Psychotria nervosa; myrsine, Ardisia escallonioides; mulberry, Morus rubra; tillandsia spp. in bloom; shoestring fern, Vittaria lineata; golden polypody fern, Phlebodium aureum; Simpson stopper, Myrcianthes fragrans, and more.  We found rare and endangered plants which are now listed on the FNAI database.

We also saw what has to be a champion citrus tree,  considering its size. An overturned tree, with a massive root structure, had a mulberry growing from the dead tree root. An impressive sight.

We were joyous when we found the first orchid, and although not in bloom, there were buds!  As we continued our hike we were happy to realize this one orchid was not alone. We also enjoyed seeing several species of fungi, including a black fuzzy one, and one that spread its spores when touched.

Towards the end of the hike we finally saw the flash of the pileated woodpecker we had been hearing all morning as it flew swiftly by.

Camp Lonesome is a jewel set in the middle of sod farms, cattle ranches, and agriculture.  There was something new, special, and exciting to see around every turn, bend, curve. Too few people realize this jewel is here to explore.

Pre-Conference Blog:
submitted by Jenny Welch,  Sparkleberry Chapter
Field Trip to be led by Scott Davis, Sandy Webb and Jenny Welch

Camp Lonesome Conservation Area is a rare hidden jewel and is 2443 acres.  It is included in the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. It is also the location of one of our Conference Field Trips on Sunday May 21, 2017. Fieldtrip X. 

Purchased by the Osceola County Environmental Lands Conservation Program in 2007. The property supports several uncommon ecological communities. This field trip will take you through a variety of habitats including beautiful Old Florida landscapes characterized by pine flatwoods, palmetto prairies, live oak hammocks, mixed wetland hardwoods, cypress, freshwater marshes, wet prairies, and a rare inland cabbage palm hammock.  This will allow us to see a wide variety of native plants, birds, and animals.

Native plants we may see include native orchids, Tarflower, Bejaria racemosa, Fetterbush,  Lyonia lucida, Shoestring Fern, Vittaria lineata, Redbud, Cercis Canadensis, Cabbage Palm,  Sabal Palmetto, Saw Palmetto, Serenoa repens, and so many more!

Birds and wildlife we may see are barred owl, bald eagle, red shouldered hawk, crested caracara, Eastern meadowlarks, bluebird, tufted titmouse, wrens, warblers, sandhill cranes, white tail deer, turkey, gopher tortoise, cardinals, swallow tailed kites, and others.

Fort Lonesome Conservation area is located in Osceola County, at 4257 Canoe Creek Road, Kenansville, FL 34739. There are approximately 5.5 miles of well-maintained trails.There is also portable bathroom at the site and picnic tables under live oak trees for a picnic lunch after the hike if you bring your lunch.

It is an absolutely beautiful special place that few ever get to see or experience. If you have not yet chose your Sunday field trip, please consider signing up for Fieldtrip X at the conference. 

Jenny is a member of the Sparkleberry Chapter of FNPS, a Master Naturalist and a member of the Audubon Society. She will be leading the field trip to Fort Lonesome along with Sandy Webb and Scott Davis. 


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