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Cape’s development of Festival Park no cause for celebration

By Staff | Jul 15, 2021

To the editor:

I learned of Festival Park as a birding hot spot on E-bird. Observed many uncommon birds it this habitat, watched a burrowing owl family raise their young, northern bobwhites, eastern meadowlarks, and was always on the watch for the Florida Scrub Jay.

Back from Minnesota this week, I finally had time to run over to Festival Park. Unfortunately, what I have been dreading has begun. The utility company is removing power poles, machinery is lined up for earth work, the edges of the canal are already stripped of vegetation, and survey stakes are everywhere. I learned the real purpose of Festival Park about eight months ago — an amphitheater, sports fields, and a thousand-space parking lot.

Sadly, I made what maybe my last tour around Festival Park, photographing the burrowing owl family, one of dozens marked in the area. I saw just a few other of the 111 different species of birds that have been reported there by the birders that frequent the acreage. I was about to leave when I turned down one last street, and there it was, a Florida scrub jay! It landed in the tree right in front of me… unbelievable!! I snapped my pictures for proof, as these birds are so rare, one is asked to submit proof when reporting a sighting. I watched it for about 15 minutes, finished my list, submitted it, and my observations were complete.

Today was a day of great joy, but also of great sorrow, as another change is being made in the name of progress. After all, society needs another amphitheater, more sports fields, and thousand space parking lots…..

Lori Kelter Herfurth