July 27, 2018
Several weeks ago, I accepted an invitation from Anne Mauro, our avian ecologist, to assist her team with counting birds and bringing back the signs from the Second Chance Critical Wildlife Area, which is a special tiny island in Rookery Bay Research Reserve.
Col, an intern that works with us and Florida Audubon, picked me up at about 7 am and drove me to the Ten Thousand Islands Field Station near Goodland. There we met Megan, a biologist working for FWC, who joined us for this early morning trip.
July 18, 2018
On Wednesday evening, I set out with Pat, our fisheries biologist, and a boat full of volunteers for Pumpkin Bay to enjoy a night of shark monitoring. It is always an adventure since you never know what you will catch each time he goes out! We set up the gill net as well as the long lines, and almost right away we had something on one of the long line hooks! After pulling up the line, we discovered we had hooked a juvenile bull shark! We got the shark into the boat so we could tag and measure it before releasing it on the other side of the bay to ensure we would not catch it again later in the evening.
July 11, 2018
I was skeptical when Keith asked if I wanted to zip down to Shell Island Road with him to see if he could find the Mangrove Cuckoo that someone on Facebook said they saw there two days earlier. Despite my hesitation, I grabbed the camera anyway, figuring maybe I’d find something else to shoot if the bird was not cooperating.
As we walked toward the parking lot at headquarters, I saw a woman with binoculars scanning the mangroves along the creek. I called to her to ask if she was looking for the cuckoo. She said she was and that the report she’d seen (on e-Bird) looked like the bird was here. I told her to follow us, and away we went.
June 21, 2018
I decided to celebrate the summer solstice by going for a hike into the mangroves with one of our research interns, Marissa Kelly, and some fancy scientific equipment. The lure of a first time visit to Cat Claw Trail, a nature trail near the Rookery Bay Field Station, was enough to motivate me despite the June heat.
May 30, 2018
Adam and I made it to Second Chance CWA for a brief survey today. The long skinny part of the sandbar lost the big sign and is shortening. We didn't get to land there, but saw no sign of least terns on it from the water. It looks like it may have gotten a little higher but more narrow and shorter.
Last Saturday, we were out on turtle patrol at the Cape Romano Complex. While our turtle intern, Tyler, and volunteer, Bob H., were walking the beach in search of sea turtle crawls, I was driving the boat parallel to them. I saw something out of the corner of my eye and turned the boat around and saw something small and brown in the water. From a distance, it did not look like the usual creature that you would expect to see out on the water. Once I got closer, I realized it was some sort of tiny song bird.
Well, nature just pulled a Haydn on us this weekend. Franz Joseph wrote the “Farewell” symphony (45th) where the musicians individually leave the stage. This past weekend, most of our “musicians” left our local stage.
Last week was a feeding and calling frenzy for migrating birds around our headquarters and parking lots. Little warblers were falling from the trees pouncing on any tiny insect they saw, some were feasting on fig fruit, others were scavenging underbrush – all in the quest to top off their “gas tanks” before they continued their journey up north. The waxwings have been ransacking our strangler figs for weeks. Their high-pitched vocalizations were a welcome sound each morning as I arrived to work. It is a sound that always brings a smile to my face. Their frenetic flights en masse from one fig tree to another were a sight to see.