It was quiet all over Fort Desoto in early October so I headed to the fishing pier for a quick walk before heading home. The bait fish were thick around the pier and the pelicans were going crazy diving for the fish. The funny thing was those annoying laughing gulls. They were trying to catch a fish slipping out of the pelican’s beak. The poor pelicans could not eat in peace. As soon as they came up with a beak full of fish the gulls would attack their heads. I took a lot of shots trying to get the pelicans just as they were hitting the water.
I realized as I cropped the above shot that he had fishing line trailing from his back. He was still able to fly and catch fish so hopefully that line came off as some point.
Dolphins were swimming all around the fishing pier in late September.
This fishing boat came close to the pier to pull up some bait fish. It became clear that these guys didn’t really know what they were doing as they ended up hitting the pier and breaking several of the the fishing poles sticking up in their boat. All of the fishermen on the pier were giving them a hard time about getting stuck. They eventually got some bait pulled up and left.
Then they went out to the tower where the pelicans were peacefully sleeping. They got too close to the tower and scared all of the pelicans away. I hope they eventually got the hang of it, for the wildlife’s sake. Never a dull moment at Fort Desoto Park.
A few of the usual birds at Fort Desoto including a crow with an apple, a loggerhead shrike and our favorite hybrid great blue heron/great egret.
It’s rare to see the ghost crabs out of their holes. They are pretty skittish.
Heading into Tampa bay.
A quiet morning on the beach. Very few people here. This was the Saturday before Hurricane Dorian was headed our way. On this morning it was forecasted to head straight across the state and hit us on Monday so many people had canceled their vacation plans. Little did we know at this point it would stall over the Bahamas and then head north.
I was taking pictures of shorebirds along the sea wall near the fishing pier when this pelican flew really close right over my head. I noticed his leg and wing were caught up in fishing wire. He could not straighten his leg back.
I was thinking he would cruise right by me but he landed just feet from me on the sea wall. He let me walk right up to him and take this picture with my phone. Notice the wire and sinker by his foot. I felt like he was telling me to help him. I told him to stay put and ran back to my car and drove over to the ranger station and reported it. He could still fly so there was no way I could have grabbed him and taken him over there. The lady said a ranger would be right over so I headed back to keep an eye on the pelican until someone got there.
When I drove back to the fishing pier, there were 2 rangers already there that were pulling a dead pelican out of the jetty. He probably got caught in the rocks with fishing line and couldn’t get out. The ranger said they spend a lot of time helping the birds that have fishing line on them. That’s why it’s so important for people fishing not to cut the line. Below are pictures of the signs at all of the fishing piers showing how to reel in a hooked bird and clip the line from the bird.
The rangers are experts at catching birds quickly and taking off all of the fishing line. This bird was cleaned up and released pretty quickly.This is not a part of their “day job” and they do it with a smile on their faces because they love the birds.
The pelican walked away, testing his wings before hopping toward the beach.
He flew down to the beach and stayed for a few minutes, preening before taking off. He’s one of the lucky ones. Many of them fly back to spoil islands and the fishing line gets tangled up in the mangroves and they can’t fly away and end up starving.
That was my little adventure at Fort Desoto recently. I was just glad the pelican didn’t fly away after I left to go get a ranger.