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Bugs and butterflies at are hot topics at Pinellas County preserves


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— What better time than summer to explore the world of bugs and butterflies at Pinellas County’s Booker Creek and Weedon Island preserves.

Both locations are ready to cool off hot visitors with delightful hands-on exhibits that offer respite from the heat and a fun educational experience. Best of all, entry to the preserves and education centers is free.

Brooker Creek Preserve

Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Rd. in Tarpon Springs, is loaded with great events in July that take the focus off the beaten trail. Most events are free, unless noted otherwise and registration is required. More information on the preserve is available at www.brookercreekpreserve.org or call (727) 453-6800.

The public is invited to explore the wonderful world of bugs and butterflies on July 12, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The class will include both indoor and outdoor activities. Outdoor appropriate attire recommended for participants.

Here’s other programs offered this month at the Brooker Creek Preserve:

◆ Brooker Book Club, sponsored by The Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve, will meet on Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Geared toward adults, the book list includes works by Florida authors, past and present, with archeology, biography, politics and history story lines. Advance registration is required as seating is limited.

◆ Certified guides will lead a hike along the 0.75-mile walk along the Education Center Trail on Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Participants can observe through the forested wetland, oak hammock and pine flatwood ecosystems. Closed-toe shoes, water and hats are recommended for all participating.

◆ Book Time at Brooker is designed for children ages 3 to 5 and is held for 45 minutes each Thursday at 10:30 a.m. The featured story on July 10 will be “Rabbits and Raindrops” by Jim Armosky followed by “One Tiny Turtle” by Nicola Davies on July 17, and “Take the Tadpole” by Karen Wallace on July 24 and “Mister Seahorse” by Eric Carle on July 31.

◆ A bird hike for beginners will show participants how to identify the county’s common birds while walking along a one-mile trail. Water and binoculars are recommended for participants. The hike is July 12 from 8 to 10:30 a.m.

◆ Learn first-hand the many “footprints” that have been left through the years that affect the preserve on Saturday. The 0.75-mile guided walk will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must; water and hats are recommended. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult; those younger than 6 may find the hike challenging.

◆ Walk on the wild side July 26 and learn why the preserve has been called “Our Wildest Place” during this 0.75-mile guided hike from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must, and water and a hat are recommended for participants. All ages are welcome although children younger than 6 may find the hike challenging. Children younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

◆ The Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve will be in the preserve’s wildflower garden for demonstrations on July 26 from 9 to 11 a.m. Participants should bring garden gloves and a hat. Morning snacks are usually provided.

◆ “Windows to our Wildest Place” is a collection of permanent, hands-on educational exhibits that help visitors understand how natural Florida has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes. The exhibit is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.

Pinellas County Extension offers classes, programs and activities at the Environmental Education Center. The center features interactive exhibits and 22 discovery-oriented experiences that are fun for the entire family. The center is operated by the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department and is open Thursday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed all Pinellas County holidays.

Weedon Island Preserve

The wildlife in Pinellas County is extremely varied and visitors of Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Dr. NE., in St. Petersburg, can learn how to create more sustainable habitats for the wonderful creatures that call Pinellas County home. Most programs are free, however, registration is required. Visit www.weedonislandpreserve.org or call (727) 453-6500 for information.

◆ Learn some basic changes to create a yard that will provide habitat for a variety of birds, butterflies and beneficial insects on July 12, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

◆ Every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m., learn about the ecosystems and the early residents of the island preserve while hiking the coastal uplands and the boardwalks through mangrove forests. Best for ages six and older.

◆ Every second and fourth Thursday of the month from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m., Wee-time at Weedon treats children to a variety of stories and hands-on activities that connect them to their environment. This program is designed to introduce preschool children to the wonders of the natural and cultural world. This activity is recommended for ages 3 to 5. Advance registration requested.

◆ Aspiring and master gardeners alike can come and get solutions for all types of questions concerning garden, lawn, and landscape care on July 11 and July 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

◆ Bird enthusiasts can assist in an annual checklist of Weedon Island’s bird population on July 11 and learn the identifying marks and behaviors of the year-round feathered residents and seasonal visitors while enjoying a hike at the preserve from 8 to 10 a.m.

◆ What is that bug? A Pinellas County extension specialist will provide an introduction to the wonderful world of bugs and butterflies found at the preserve. This program will be offered on July 19, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

◆ Grab a camera and hike the preserve in search of that perfect photo on July 19 from 8 to 10 a.m. After a classroom session, preserve volunteers highlight seasonal features of the preserve and specific wildlife behaviors to capture the natural beauty of the island.

◆ Connecting People and Place is an art-inspired, permanent hands-on educational exhibit of the area’s history, ecology and people at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center. The center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. It is closed all Pinellas County holidays.

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