Thursday, February 18, 2010

Golden Eagle, American Crocodile and More

Golden Eagle in Illinois
Just read this account in the 'Illinois Birders' Forum entitled 'Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!' by Eric Walters.  Great story and photos.

Sanibel Island Crocodile Found Dead

This American Crocodile was photographed by me on January 19, 2008 in south Dade County, Florida

The January freeze here in southwest Florida was cause for a lot of damage to agriculture, and major fish kills. Even sharks and sea turtles died from cold shock.  One victim, she was found around January 21st along the Sanibel River, may have been the grand, old crocodile that had lived on Sanibel Island for the past 30 years. She had lived in or about the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and I had meet her there  on one occasion.  She was sun bathing close by the road and wildlife management had her cordoned-off and guarded. You were welcome to observe, but not to close.
Most all American Crocodiles live in the Keys or around the Turkey-Point nuclear power plant in Dade County. So our croc was far removed from the rest of the population and was perhaps the mostly northerly residing crocodile. She had been removed a couple of times to place her in more friendly crocodile envirnments in the keys, were hopely she could successfully breed.  But she always returned to Sanibel.
Speculation is that the cold along with her advanced age was cause for her death.

Freeze Causes Exotics Die-Off
Many of our native species like loggerhead turtles and snook suffered big losses do to the unusual cold, but those exotics that had been gaining a foot-hold in Florida suffered as well. Tilapia, armoured catfish and other aquarium fish that had been gaining in population had massive kills. Burmese pythons and Iguanas also can not withstand the cold. This may have been the answer to the concerns about the pythons and other large tropical reptiles damaging the ecology of the Florida. I am curious if any of Cape Coral's Nile Monitors survived. An interesting story I read in the News-Press concerned many dogs in dade County becoming ill from eating on the corpses of dead iguanas.  It seems that the corpses carried a botulism.

Ivory Gull in Georgia
Toward the end of January, rare bird reports were popping up of an Ivory Gull at West Point Dam, Georgia. Even Florida based message boards were carrying reports on the gull. This is a small, white gull of the Arctic north.  It rarely is found so far south.  A great opportunity to twitch on a bird that would normally be thousands of miles away. Reports quickly came in on birders jumping at the chance, but within a few short days the reports noted that the bird was either hurt or ill. Then the messages said not to bother making the long drive as the gull had been collected by wildlife management for treatment. I believe it was taken to Atlanta but it could not be saved.  What a loss.  It was such a beautifull bird. Test showed that it had pnuemonia.
A link to a photo of the Georgia Ivory Gull

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