Monday, January 31, 2011

Up to my eyeballs in alligators!

(Photo by Matt MacQueen)

I'm hopelessly behind in my blog posting - computer problems (fixed, thank goodness), and up to my eyeballs in alligators at work (it's an old aerospace saying - when you're up to your eyeballs in alligators, it's hard to remember that your objective is to drain the swamp).
Meanwhile, there's some good news on the critter front. Vickie reports from Tennessee that there will be no sandhill crane hunting for two years, pending further studies (see Reference Links below for the complete story). Vickie has waged a tireless battle for years on behalf of whooping cranes and now the sandhill cranes. If you have not wandered through her blog to look at her art, greeting cards, gourd art, etc - DO!
More good critter news - the right whale I wrote of in the previous post was successfully untangled. (In answer to Kelly's question, it is a Right Whale, not a Wright Whale - whalers thought they were the "right" ones to hunt. Kelly likes alliteration :)
Not such good news is the cold weather impact on the manatees and sea turtles. And from my perspective, the news out of Gatorland that they are adding a zip line is a bummer.
Friends continue to do wonderful things. Two of Jim Angy's sea turtle photos were used in National Wildlife Federation report on the status of sea turtles - one on the cover! This 20-page report is chock-full of sea turtle data. See Reference Links below for a link to it. - you can download a copy from the NWF site. I'm eagerly awaiting the Birds of Viera Wetlands Birding Guide developed by Charlie Corbeil. I've seen the draft, and he writes that it has been printed and my copy is in the mail. Matt MacQueen won first place in the Living Wild category of the Florida Wildlife magazine for his photo of a frog on a lily. Wayne Matchett's presentation of Wildflowers of Wickham Park to members of the Conradina Chapter of the Native Plant Society was beautiful and informative. Talented friends, indeed!
The Birding and Wildlife Festival was a big success, according to the reports of friends that attended - I missed it this year, but apparently some 4,500 people attended. Florida Cracker made the trip over from Florida's west coast to the Festival to meet Julie Zickefoose - follow the link below to his Pure Florida blog for an account of the get-together.
Stay warm.
Reference Links:
Vickie Henderson - A New Plan for the Eastern Population of Sandhill Cranes
NWF Report - Sea Turtle Homecoming, Class of 2010: A Proactive Coastal Conservation Agenda for Florida
Pure Florida - Why I Went to the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's Right Whale Season

I was pondering what to blog about this weekend when a most interesting email arrived from Arnold Dubin describing the on-going rescue of a Right Whale tangled in commercial fishing lines. Arnold gave me permission to use his description, as follows:

This morning, I received a call from Julie Albert, who is in charge of the local Right Whale Monitoring Program. They spotted a Right Whale swimming south of Melbourne Beach. This specific Right Whale was tangled with commercial fishing lines, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation people were trying to remove them from her. They connected a couple of buoys to the Whale to try to slow it down, but that didn't seem to work, at least for the time we were observing it. They also had a spotter plane keeping track of the whale. I was able photograph this Right Whale with one buoy connected to it and a V-shape Blow. This whale was swimming about 3 MPH in a south east direction. Their normal speed is usually 1 mph. As you can see from my pictures, this whale was pretty far from the shore line. (See Reference Links below for link to Arnold's web site with photos of Right Whale rescue event.)
Earlier this month, I had received a notice from the aforementioned Julie Albert, Right Whale Program Coordinator for the Marine Resources Council, describing their new blog (see Reference Links below), upcoming classes, and the first Right Whale sighting of 2011 on January 4. For those readers local to Brevard County, there are classes and opportunities to help in the monitoring program. (I don't yet know what happened to the Right Whale in jeopardy, but I expect it will be discussed in the MRC blog and I'll update this post then.)
My thanks to Arnold for sharing his experience and his photos with us. Be sure to read the "About Me" section of Arnold's web site. He describes trying to improve his photos via PhotoShop, but finally decided he just needed to take better pictures to start with! He's an officer in the Camera Club of Brevard and has won numerous prizes and awards in recent years.
Reference Links
Arnold Dubin Photography
Right Whale Monitoring Blog (Marine Resources Council)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I personally like vultures, but ...

Many of you that read this blog also follow Florida Cracker (aka FC) and his blog, Pure Florida (see Reference Links below). He recently posted about rescuing a vulture and trying to find a wildlife rehab facility open over the holiday. It was the first time I'd ever given much thought to what a vulture must smell like, given its favorite food - road kill. You'll want to read FC's clever post to find out, but don't do it while eating dinner. Gotta love a guy that will go out of his way to help a vulture! (Photo by Jim Angy. Note that this is a turkey vulture. The one FC and his dog, Bear, rescued was a black vulture. )

The "vulture" in this photo overlooks my dining room table. Her name is I-Lean. I got her from a Martha Steward catalog (pre-jail, so it's been about 8 years ago). I-Lean gets a little santa hat and a stocking with a toy mouse in it for Christmas. The good part is that she fits right in with the current wetlands decor. Actually, she fits right in with any decor - vultures are like that.

Reference Links

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A hunting season for sandhill cranes? Just say NO!

For several weeks, friend Vickie Henderson has been lobbying against a plan in Tennessee that would allow a hunting season for sandhill cranes. This past week, Julie Zickefoose also posted about the plan, urging folks from all over to raise their voices against this. Links to both sites are included in Reference Links below. Even if you don't live in Tennessee, feel free to express your thoughts. (Photo by Jim Angy)

Reference Links:
Vickie Henderson Art
Julie Zickefoose