Escape to South West Florida – November 2011

At the end of November, Sarah and I took a little trip down to Fort Myers, FL. We decided to explore some areas we haven’t been to and revisit some of our favourite spots. We ended up doing a lot of birding while we were down there and we ended the trip with over 95 species. Not bad for a couple of rookies!

The only bummer on the trip was having to organize a rescue for a pelican that was tangled in fishing line, thanks to a careless fisherman not following the rules. Yes — I saw you cut the line with well over 50 ft trailing behind the bird, instead of attempting to bring the bird to shore, like the signs say.

Pelicans have always been one of my favourite things to see when traveling to Florida. Sitting on the beach watching this great bird suffer because it was too tangled to fly was a huge downer on a beautiful sunny Saturday.

I have to thank the caring person running the tourist booth in downtown Fort Myers Beach for actually taking the time to help organize a rescue. After I let her know what I witnessed, she jumped into action and called a local wildlife rescue agency who in turned called Florida Fish & Wildlife. Unfortunately by the time F&W were able to make it out to the area by boat, the pelican had floated and stumbled up on shore. I happened to witness this from the balcony of the condo so I ran down to the beach and got the attention of the F&W to show them where the bird made landfall. They gave me the thumbs up from the boat – They see the bird! I could see they were on their cellphones, obviously trying to call someone on land to help out. I had to go get ready to go out for dinner and I knew there was nothing more I could do.

It was still bugging me a few days later because I didn’t have closure. We stopped back at the tourist info booth and the same lady was working. I asked if she had heard anything more about the pelican – she was so happy I came back. Apparently, she was looking for me all week wanting to give me the good news – The pelican was rescued! She thanked me for taking the time to actually get help. It felt good… I was just glad it had a happy ending.

I don’t want to get into a big rant here but here’s what I have to say since I witnessed the entire event… “Dear fisherman, please read and follow the directions posted everywhere on the pier on what to do if you hook a pelican – don’t cut the line with 50 feet trailing behind the bird – they can’t fly with it.” I like to fish myself, but you have to have some respect and follow the rules.

Enough of that, back to the good stuff…

We had a great time while down there and can’t wait to go back. We found some really amazing places that we’d like to go back to and explore a little more.  Some of the places we visited:

  • Bowditch Point
  • Bunche Beach Preserve
  • JN Ding Darling & Brant Tract (there is a panther at the end of the trail in the pic below)
  • Fort Myers Beach & Pier
  • Corkscrew Swamp (visited 2 times – if you’re in the area, you have to go here!)
  • Estero River Scrub
  • Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Harns Marsh
  • and yes, the natural area behind Coconut Point Mall (we saw a limpkin here!!)

Some of the highlights…

    American Avocet

    Brown Pelicans

    Bald Eagle

    Osprey

    Green Heron

    Y. Crowned Night Heron

    Florida Panther

    Bunche Beach

    White Pelicans

    Limpkin

    Loggerhead Shrike

    Muscovy Duck

    Pileated Woodpecker

    Poinsettia Tree

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