Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mar 22 (Day 81) - Kanapaha Prairie visit and a fundraising plea

Today I visited the Kanapaha Prairie, one of the areas that I am raising money to protect. Rather than rehash everything in my own words, let me direct you to The Conservation Fund page that describes in detail the area and its conservation. As today was cloudy, I was not able to obtain any decent photos of Kanapaha. I have therefore deferred to the amazing work of local photographers Larry Korhnak and Mac Stone for imagery. 


Photo by Larry Korhnak

Photo by Larry Korhnak

Photo by Larry Korhnak

Photo by Larry Korhnak

Photo by Mac Stone

Photo by Mac Stone

From my perspective, this is a really unique ecosystem. I have never seen a wet prairie before. Simply put, the area is kind of a cross between a prairie and a marsh, and a a result there is a great mix of birdlife. I met Lauren Day of The Conservation Fund at 7:30am this morning to begin a tour of Kanapaha. Lauren is the Project manager for Kanapaha, and she helps to coordinate the efforts of several conservation groups that help to manage Kanapaha. We were also met by photographer Larry Korhnak (more of Larry's photos here), and a very knowledgeable local birder Rex. The 4 of us spent 3 hours walking around the area, and in that time we ran up a very nice bird list. Photographer Mac Stone ( joined us a bit later, so it was nice to connect with him as well. Bird highlights of our morning included:

Glossy Ibis (Upwards of 100 - one huge flock of 70+)
Great Egret (Upwards of 40)
American bittern (2-3)
Least Bittern 
Tricolored heron 
Blue-winged teal 
Mottled duck 
Sandhill crane (5-6)
Northern harrier
American kestrel
Red-shouldered hawk
Bald eagle (1)
Solitary sandpiper
Least sandpiper
Greater, Lesser yellowlegs (lots)
Wilson's snipe (many)
Savannah sparrow
Eastern meadowlark (lots - nice to see so many in one place)

This property is part of a large network of conservation lands in Alachua (a-LATCH-ua, not ala-CHEW-a as I mispronounced it)  County. From speaking with Lauren, I discovered that Alachua county is very active in conservation. With The University of Florida at Gainesville at its center, this progressive jurisdiction has taken great measures to protect areas of wet prairie like those at Kanapaha I visited today and those at Payne's Prairie I visited yesterday. These areas are particularly important for Sandhill crane and the critically endangered Whooping crane. Both of these magnificent species utilize the prairies as stop over feeding grounds during migration. You can see photos of both of these species in the photo gallery on The Conservation Fund webpage linked above.

As many of you know I am doing this entire year as a conservation fundraiser. I decided it was very important for me to physically visit at least one of the sites that I am raising money to conserve. Kanapaha Prairie was a bit out of my way, but it was well worth the detour. I am hoping that my visit and this post will inspire many of YOU to make donations to conserve beautiful and biologically important places such as Kanapaha Prairie. Maybe you want to donate $1 for each Glossy Ibis I saw today. Maybe you want to donate $100 for the Bald eagle we found. Maybe you instead want to give $33.72, a penny for each mile I rode to get to this amazing place. I am generating blog content in hopes that people such as YOU, people who care about the environment, will take an active role in preserving it. My adventure has been fantastic, but it has taken A LOT of me personally and mentally. You can't help me ride the bike and/or make my daily pain abate, but you can support the conservation projects that will make all this sweat and pain worthwhile. Nothing comes for free, including this blog. Please give whatever you can. It does not take long - I promise.


After Kanapaha I rode North to Lake City for the night. On my way  out of Gainesville, I was accosted on the side of the road by two lovely young ladies who had driven from Flagler Beach on the Atlantic Coast to meet me. They had missed me earlier in the morning but caught up with me a bit later. Their excitement over the project was phenomenal. This is exactly the kind of infectious energy I hope this project is generating throughout the bird, conservation, and cycling communities. I will try to keep you abreast of where I will be so that you too can join me for part of a day if you so desire. The more people I meet the better this year will ultimately be!

Fans of the month Cassy and Laura!

61 miles today

I have not settled on a route west yet, but I will keep you posted!


  1. I have intended to make a contribution since January, but just did not get around to doing it until now. After your recent accident and your plea today, I could not wait any longer. What you are doing is just amazing and inspiring! Thank you!

    Shelley Rutkin
    Winston-Salem, NC

  2. Woo Hoo! Thanks Shelley, I'm glad to hear my post hit a chord with you!


  3. Hi Dorian. I have followed your blog from the first entry but just now donated. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. You are an engaging writer, and I appreciate the effort you put into the blog on a daily basis. I am sure that many older people like me are living your 'adventure of a lifetime' vicariously with you. What a wonderful way to do a big year! As an obsessive bird photographer myself, I especially enjoy your excellent photos. Be safe and keep up the great work!

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