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TFGT: A Long Flight Home

A cache by Manatee_County_NRD Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 07/27/2012
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: small (small)

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Geocache Description:

Please do not take the stamp or the stamp pad from this cache. As it is a **letterbox** these items must remain inside and be available for those people who are stamping their Passport for the GeoTour.

Welcome to Jiggs Landing!

Anyone can claim this cache, but to be eligible for the Taking Flight Geo Tag, stamp your Passport with the stamp included in the cache box. Keep an eye out for any species you may see flying overhead – perhaps they are heading on their annual flight!

Jiggs Landing is one of Manatee County’s only public freshwater boat ramps, and it is the only boat ramp and preserve site located on the Braden River. To the extreme north of the preserve is Evers Reservoir which supplies the drinking water for the City of Bradenton. This is a site that’s popular with people; lots of visitors are attracted to the opportunity to launch their boats or kayaks, or fish from the sea wall or docks. While Jiggs is not the County’s largest preserve, it’s still a great spot to watch for bird flyovers, making it a favorite for bird watchers. But Jiggs Landing is also important because it offers a unique mix of freshwater wetlands habitat that provides homes and temporary stop over places for migratory birds.

Jiggs Landing. Photo by Scott Veix

Each year, thousands of birds migrate, or move, from one place to another. Many different animals migrate - birds, butterflies, bats, and even whales all migrate at different times for different reasons. But birds in particular are known for their annual migration; nearly everyone has heard that birds “fly south” for the winter. Not all birds migrate, but those that do undertake their great journeys each year in search of commonalities including warmer weather, food availability, and better habitat. As the seasons change up north, we see a number of new bird species arriving in Florida (right around the time the human “snowbirds” appear too!). Some of these birds will spend the entire winter in the state and others will continue on southward to South America and beyond.

To prepare for migration, birds must alter their body metabolism. Many accumulate fat before long flights as fat provides lots of energy for flight. “Hyperphagia” begins about 2 to 3 weeks before migration. This is the time when a bird’s appetite and food consumption changes in order to prepare for migration. The feeding frenzy results in lots of fat production and storage that will help with the long flight ahead. Many species will also shift their activity period; instead of being active in the day they may become more active at night in order to fly at times when there are fewer predators and a greater likelihood of encountering favorable winds.

Map of North America's migration flyways

The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, two of four that occur throughout North America, are the two pathways that bring birds in to Florida. Most birds that migrate use one of these paths in order to reach their seasonal homes, flying together as a flock. The flocks can include birds of all one type or, in the case of birds that do not normally fly in flocks, a group of a number of different species. Safety in numbers is the rule for migration and birds will come together and be unusually social in the hopes of improving survival. A flock of birds also means more eyes to spot potential food sources, and a flock flying in formation can improve aerodynamics and help all of the birds together to have an easier flight.

Jiggs Landing, along with all of Manatee County’s preserves, is not just a home for its resident wildlife. It also serves as a “stopover site” for migratory bird species. Stopover sites are important as they provide a sort of “rest stop” for a long vacation road trip. Providing restored preserve sites in the County means that the birds can find places where shelter, food, and water are abundant. Here they can rest from their long flight before resuming their journey. During migration you, too, can provide a stopover area for birds. The easiest way to do this is by setting up a bird feeder for birds to use as they migrate. You can also provide several different types of feeders to attract a variety of species. Providing water in the form of a water feature with moving water or bird bath is also beneficial to birds. A longer lasting and more permanent impact can be obtained by planting appropriate native trees and shrubs to serve as temporary habitat for visiting birds, and maintaining wetland areas such as ponds and streams that naturally occur on the property. You can transform your yard into a bird-friendly site using a number of different methods, from quick and easy changes to long term improvements, making a positive impact on the local and migratory bird community.

Anyone can claim this cache, but to be eligible for the Taking Flight Geo Tag, stamp your Passport with the stamp included in the cache box. Keep an eye out for any species you may see flying overhead – perhaps they are heading on their annual flight!

Visit the sites along the Taking Flight GeoTour (TFGT) and learn about Manatee County’s wild spaces and the amazing feathered friends that live in them. Along the way, you will be challenged to become a citizen scientist, a preserve ranger, a detective, a historian, and of course an excellent geocacher in order to find all of the caches in the trail. Caches are located in birding “hot spots” throughout Manatee County’s publicly accessible conservation preserves. Each one highlights a specific bird species or aspect of bird life providing you with opportunities to learn more about these creatures and what we can do to help them survive. Caches also focus on protecting the region's waterways, bays, and natural watersheds, and habitat areas for many of our area’s feathered fliers.

The Taking Flight GeoTour includes 15 caches within Manatee County. A custom Taking Flight Geo Tour trackable geo tag will be awarded to the first 300 geocachers, while supplies last, for locating at least 12 TFGT caches. To be eligible for the tag, geocachers must download a passport from the TFGT Website or pick one up at the Manatee County Natural Parks & Natural Resources Department office at GT Bray Park 5502 33 rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, FL., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Geocachers must log at least 12 finds, answer the question from each cache on their passport, and complete any additional requirements for specific caches (such as posting photos for earth caches). After finding a minimum of 12 caches, participants can have their passports validated in person or via mail at the Manatee County Natural Parks & Natural Resources Department office at GT Bray Park 5502 33 rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, FL 34209, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. News and updates on tag availability and validation hours can be found online at the Parks & Natural Resources Department's website.
Thank you for assisting with the Taking Flight GeoTour:

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

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Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)

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