Re-Lighting the Light          
As Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, we can be extremely proud of another huge advance made toward the completion of the lighthouse restoration. On July 13, the light atop the St. Marks Lighthouse was shining once again after a long absence.  
To make that happen, the Friends contracted to have a replica of the historic Fourth Order Fresnel Lens constructed by Artworks Florida. It was installed in the restored lantern room on July 12. For the first time since 2000, the St. Marks Lighthouse briefly flashed its beam out to sea once again.  For now it's turned off until the Fish & Wildlife Service finishes its compatibility determination and gets approvals from all agencies.   
An official lens re-lighting ceremony is planned for October 31.  More information about that ceremony will be given in the mid-October issue of Reflections. 
Article and photo courtesy Tom Baird    

Proof Brewing Co. Hosts Lighthouse Celebration   
Plan to be at the Proof Brewing Co., 1320 South Monroe St, Tallahassee, on October 30 from 6-8:30 pm to help celebrate the re-lighting of the light on top of the St. Marks Lighthouse.   
For a nominal fee, you will be able to enjoy the beverage of your choice in a special event commemorative glass that you can take with you (well, minus the liquid contents. Smiley face goes here!).   During the evening, you'll be able to hear music, laugh with your Refuge friends, and also get a lot of great information about special wildlife initiatives that the Friends support at the Refuge. And, bring a friend with you who is not a Friend of the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, because we can provide them with membership right there at the brewery.  What's not to enjoy?
If you have questions about the event, don't hesitate to jot off a quick email to us.  We look forward to seeing you on October 30.  
The editor 

The St. Marks NWR Photo Club
New Meeting Plans

The St. Marks NWR Photo Club has made plans for 2019-2020 that include meetings with special topics, wagon tours in the Refuge, and off-site photo opportunities.
  • Neil Hostnick will be leading a Macro workshop on Saturday, August 17, from 10:00 AM - Noon in Nature's Classroom.  Anyone who is interested in macro (close-up) photography is welcome.  Bring a camera or smartphone and join us on August 17.
  • Travel Photography is the topic for the Photo Club meeting on Saturday, September 21, from 10:00 AM - Noon.  Karen Willes will present suggestions for packing camera equipment as well as show images with different subject ideas for photographing while traveling.  Attendees are encouraged to participate in the discussion with their own suggestions.
  • Weather permitting, on Saturday, October 19, the Photo Club will sponsor an evening of photographing the Milky Way.  Instead of a monthly morning meeting, attendees will meet at 5:00 PM at Picnic Pond, bring their own picnic, and receive instruction by Jim Daniels about camera settings for photographing the Milky Way before going to the St. Marks Lighthouse to set up.  Sign-up for this evening event is required.  Call the refuge at (850) 925-6121.
  • At the annual Monarch Butterfly Festival on October 26, the Photo Club will be available to photograph visitors at a special Monarch Festival backdrop.  Volunteers are needed and a sign-up sheet will be available at the August and September Photo Club meetings.
All are welcome to join in these Photo Club activities in the coming months.
Article courtesy Karen Willes, photo credit, Neil Hostnick  

Monarch Butterfly Festival
October 26 - Save the Date
With even the slightest breeze in the air on our hot summer days, many of us begin to get excited about the Monarch Butterfly Festival in the fall.  It isn't that far away.  Soon we'll be seeing the stars of the show arrive in all their showy attire.
Just recently, I saw one light on my refrigerator.  Well, okay, it's an artist's clay creation, but still, it's a sign.  They are on their way.
Be sure that you have this colorful and exciting, fun-filled Saturday event on your calendar. You won't want to miss it. More details to come in the mid-October issue of Reflections. 
The editor; clay art creation by Valerie Baumgartel.    

Highlights & News from the
Highlights of the past year at the Nature Store included introducing four new products, Area X shirts, Chip's Sticks, St. Marks Bird Checklist, and Photo Cards produced in house.   Each of these involve the generous participation of talented folks - a writer, a wood craftsman, a birder, and local photographers.

  • Area X has been a big winner for the Nature Store. The shirts are inspired by NYT-best-selling author Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy.  Since September 2018, we've sold over 400 shirts-shipping them throughout the US and internationally as well.  Sales have generated over $4500 profit. Thank you to Jeff for being such a great Friend and introducing the Refuge to his readers.
  • Chip Coffin, a Friends member, started making walking sticks for us last summer.  He donates "Chip's Sticks" to the store and we sell them for $20.  Chip attaches a compass to most of them, custom wraps the handles, sometimes with attached bead work, and often includes a little carving on the side.  Pretty cool!
  • Don Morrow, our preeminent birder, created the Checklist of the Birds of St. Marks NWR (see banner photo above) and gave us the electronic file. We produce the booklets at the Refuge and sell them for $3.  We've sold over 70 since April of this year.  It's so great to have a comprehensive list that's specific to our Refuge.  It's a very big hit with birders.
  • We started making Photo Cards at the end of October last year.  Since then, over 650 cards have sold.   We currently have over 60 images from local photographers who took their photos at the Refuge. They're a beautiful addition to our store stock at Visitor's Center. 
Thank you to the dedicated volunteers who make the store such a success, whether they're working the front desk or coming in once a week to help restock.   Don't hesitate to contact Robin Will, David Moody, or Rita LeBlanc if you're interested in joining this great team. 
Article and photos courtesy Nature Store Manager and ex-officio member of the Friends'  Board of Directors, Rita LeBlanc  

FSU Office of Sustainability Visit 
The FSU Office of Sustainability visited the Refuge on July 21 to become  better acquainted with initiatives put forward by the Friends, and to tour the breadth of what the Refuge offers visitors.  
The concept of sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. As a result, it is obvious why these university folks would want to see sustainability in action at the Refuge. 
Elizabeth Swiman, office director, and three students were present for the tour, which was hosted by Friends' Board of Directors member, Bill Clutter. They visited the Monarch/Milkweed Nursery where they were treated to the usual great presentation by Ranger Scott Davis. Then they toured behind-the-gates with Ranger David Moody and finished by getting a close look at the lighthouse. The photo above was taken along the Pinhook River.    
A great day was had by all.   
Photo ID, left to right, Bill Clutter (tour host and Friends Board member), Michelle Presley; Laurelin Haas; Cyndel Brunell; Elizabeth Swiman       

    Art Inspired by the Refuge        
Many artists, myself included, often use Refuge visits and observations as a springboard to creative expression.  The Swallowtail Kite watercolor above is the result of many of my own Refuge visits and sightings.  
I'm letting this painting be an introduction for showing other art here in Reflections that YOU may have similarly created.  Contact us via email and provide the artist name, medium, and subject ID so that we can consider your art in upcoming issues of Reflections.   

Editor: My thanks to Betsy Kellenberger (former Friends' Board of Directors member) for her photos, that not only inspire me in my painting, but that also contribute to many features in past issues of Reflections.      

   Bat Acoustic Monitoring       
There is an almost eerie excitement in the air every evening as darkness covers the Refuge. Often, just as the light is waning, we see bats soar through the approaching darkness in search of insects.  
Now, there are three bat acoustic monitoring systems that have been installed on the Refuge; one near the Visitors Center (directly across from the VC in the open grassy space), one at the lighthouse, and one in an area of the Refuge near Tram road. These devices record high-frequency calls of bats. The results can then be collected, and the calls can be analyzed to identify different bat species on the Refuge.   
Stay tuned as this monitoring provides us with more and more information about these wonderful nighttime pollinators.
Article; Susan Cason, President Friends Board of Directors; art, the editor    

Birding Surveys Assist Our Visitors      
Don Morrow, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge volunteer and expert birder takes in-depth bird surveys at the Refuge frequently throughout the year. Don keeps us up-to-date on what we can see from week-to-week. As the administrator of the Friends website, I attempt to keep up with his visits and post his findings here. Go there now to see his latest survey.
Also, here's some more assistance that Don is providing visitors and Friends. He has just recently published a book titled: Checklist -The Birds of St Marks National Wildlife Refuge. It is informative, accurate and up-to-date.  It's for sale at the Friends Nature Store. Anyone who birds at St. Marks should have this fine reference.
The editor    

Coming Soon

August 17
St. Marks Photo Club - 10 am - noon at Nature's Classroom. Topic: Macro Photography
August 20
St. Marks Lighthouse keeper's quarters open 11 am - 2pm, $2 entry fee. Check with refuge office to confirm - 850-925-6121. Also, call this number to check on other dates and times that the lighthouse is open throughout September and October. 
August 27
St. Marks Lighthouse keeper's quarters open 11 am - 2pm, $2 entry fee. Check with refuge office to confirm - 850-925-6121. Also, call this number to check on other dates and times that the lighthouse is open throughout September and October.   
September 7
Extremely Early Birding Tour with Don Morrow - 6:15 am, limited space. Call 850-925-6121 to reserve your space. Meet at Visitor Center.
3 hours.
September 8
Second Sunday - "Plants of the St. Marks NWR", Ranger Scott Davis.
September 21
St. Marks Photo Club - 10 am - noon at Nature's Classroom.  Topic: Travel Photography
September 29
Wildlife Tour with Matt & Cyndi Johnstone - call for a space -
10 am - 1 pm.
October 13
Second Sunday talk - "Imperiled Butterflies" Dr. Jaret Daniels. 2 pm.  
October 26
Monarch Butterfly Festival - 10 am - 4 pm.
October 30 and 31
Proof Brewing Co. evening event on the 30th and Re-Lighting the Light Ceremony
at the Refuge on the 31st. Both of these events promote Re-Lighting the Light.  See separate event details above. 

Have you considered including the Refuge in your will?  We would appreciate hearing from you if so. The Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge can provide information and guide you through the process. Just call the Refuge at 850-925-6121, and ask to be contacted by the Friends' Development Committee, or email us.
Reflections newsletter is a benefit of membership for Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. It also serves as an important supplement to  
Both the newsletter and the web site provide members and the public information about volunteer activities and events at the Refuge.

Reflections Editor, Phillip M. Pollock