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http://www.cozumelradioonline.com/. I truly enjoy listening to it and hearing familiar voices. But I must say it made me painfully homesick.
Some of the local Cozumel chizmes (gossip) that you may not have heard. Susan Johnson is now the owner of the island fixture, the French Quarter, congratulations Susan. Cozumel4You can now be found on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/158064054226056/. Jennifer Marshall, a frequent Cozumel visitor from Texas has brought petitions to try to stop the abuse of carriage horses on the island. She presented these to the city council recently. The new mayor, Aurielo was not there. Jennifer has a website for educating people on this painful subject. Sam's Club opened on the island after years of rumors that it was coming. Greg who owns Woody's in downtown Cozumel was in a terrible moto accident and miraculouly he is recovering nicely. Please stop in and see him if you are on the island. A new cargo ferry opened and the marina is expected to open in late fall. Turtle season is going well with the exception of two white turtles that were found dead on the east side. I had the pleasure of seeing a couple of white turtles hatch last summer. The ones that died were adults weighing 200 kilos. There have been changes in roads and streets. So if you drive there, be prepared for some one-ways going in different directions and some additional streets.
Back to Ft. Myers
Some of you may know that I was active in the Cat Fanciers Association for many years while I bred and showed Abyssinian cats. So, one of the first things I did when I returned to the states was to join a local cat club, the Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers. The club put on a show the weekend of July 23 & 24 -- their 20th annual. I was active in the production of the show and, of course, did the photos. My cat, Tuffy, hadn't been in a show for over 6 years but he handled it pretty well, even at 7 1/2 years of age. His nearly 11 year old mother, not so much. So we had her stay home the 2nd day. To the right is an Egyptian Mau that was very interested in me and my camera.
The club is very supportive of local rescue groups and shelters. There were dozens of cats and kittens there for adoption and the weekend was very successful for rescue cats!
It was fun being at a cat show again and really great reconnecting to some old friends that I met in Florida in the mid-80s. Tuffy, above, was from the last litter I bred over 7 years ago. While I miss the kittens, I don't miss the expense and hard work that goes with breeding purebred animals. It has changed a lot over the years. When I was a show manager back in Michigan, I would always try to involve the local humane society in our show. Cat shows draw large crowds of cat lovers and is an excellent way to help the local rescue groups connect with the public and rehome some great pets.
In Cozumel the Humane Society has worked very hard to promote spaying and neutering all pets and worked towards educating the local folks on responsibilities with pets. It has been an upward climb, but their efforts are starting to pay off. But, they still have way too many unwanted pets and not enough adopters on the island. So many of the dogs and cats are adopted by tourists visiting the island and either taken back to the states and Canada, or escorts are found and they are flown to their new homes. If you are an island visitor, consider either adopting or being an escort. I have done the escort gig and it is very rewarding and easy peasy. See the website (link above) for more information.
My 2nd favorite island. I have spent as much time as I am able visiting the island. I am drawn to the Ding Darling Nature Wildlife Refuge. It bears the name of a Michigan man, J. Ding Darling, a political cartoonist and bird lover. Thank you to those with the forethought to protect nearly half of this beautiful island for generations to come. Can you imagine our congress today having that kind of forethought? I can't.
Sanibel to me, is all about the birds. To many others, it is all about the beach and shelling, but that is for another blog. The refuge has a driving tour where you can drive slowly through the place and stop and photograph all the birds that will pose nicely for you. Over the years I have seen professional photographers from every wildlife organization you can think of here because it is such a bonanza for birds.
Above is a small flock of Roseatta Spoonbills in the morning light. They are a bright pink splash on the landscape. I am glad I didn't get a closeup of their heads because they don't have such cute faces. There are no feathers on their head and they look a bit like a vulture (head alone) with a weird beak. Their range is the far southeast USA and Chile and Argentina to the south. They eat small fish, crabs, and vegetation. The technique they use is to sweep there bills back and forth through the water until they feel something and quickly clamp their spoon bills closed. They don't start breeding until they are 3 years old. Like so many of the birds of Florida and the south the love of their plummage for ladies hats and such meant that they were hunted nearly to extinction with only 30-40 breeding pairs remaining. This destructive fashion trend carried on from the 1870's until around 1920. Around 1900 Egret feathers were worth more than ounce of gold. The spoonbills have made a remarkable recovery and now their breeding pairs number in the 1000s. Florida has just removed them from endangered to threated statis.
To the left is the Osprey. It is also called "fish eagle". They are very common here, although a little less so in the summer. There are nesting platforms everywhere for them and they have a good track records of raising their young here. To the right below is a fledgling Osprey trying out its wings for the first time. It would lift off the nest and hover for a few moments and then drop back down to safety. When I returned a week later, the fledglings (3) were all out of the nest. The nest was near the lighthouse point and I observed the young ones hanging out on the top of the lighthouse and they were quite at home with their newly learned ability to fly.
Osprey's life revolves around fishing. You can find them hovering, riding the thermals, right at the edge of the beach and gulf. They are a diurnal species which means they are active in the daytime and sleep at night. So we get to see their spectacular swoops down to snatch fish. The Osprey and Owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible, allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind. This is particularly helpful when they grab slippery fish. This species of raptor can be found nearly all over the globe. Their lifespan is 7-10 years with rare individuals living as long as 20-25 and a record holder from Europe lived to be over 30 years.
Osprey don't really have natural enemies other than Bald Eagles. Bald Eagles will sometimes engage in kleptoparasitism (don't you love that word), that is they will steal the Osprey's catch in mid-air. I was greatly thrilled to witness that a few months ago in Matlacha near Pine Island. An Osprey flew over the roof where we were sitting with an Eagle in hot pursuit. There was a flurry of flying beaks and talons and feathers and before I could get my camera up, it was over and the Eagle had the fish and was so far away that you can't tell what it was.
Oh, and I must mention the passing of "Wilma", Sanibel's long time resident crockodile. She died in January 2010 of either old age, or an extremely cold winter. She had been out of her element for many years. She had been captured and relocated to the southern tip of Florida where the American Crockodile's normal range is. But like so many of us, she kept returning to Sanibel. I had the pleasure of seeing her over 15 years ago. It was an amusing encounter as I was showing off Ding Darling to friends (Nancy and Del Johnson) who asked if we would see crockodiles. I said no and then explained that they weren't seen this far north and that we might see alligators but no crocks. A short time later we rounded a bend in the preserve and stopped because of the large crowd along the side of the road. And on the bank was her great big self for all to see and for me to have to eat my words. I have a picture of her someplace, but couldn't find it. She had a rough life, she battled with the big male alligators often, but that wasn't how she died. I was sad to hear of her passing, she always fascinated to me.
I recently learned that the island now has another female crock. She is around 8 feet. She was relocated to Sanibel from Grove City to the north because she was coming on private property. When they moved her they put magnets on the sides of her head to disorient her orientation to her previous territory. So, the beat goes on. And one last thing. A black bear has been spotted on the island recently. Probably a young male trying to find a new territory. So far, he has been keeping to himself bothering nobody, so there are no plans to relocate him.
And so, until next time, I am off with my camera to capture life's and natures moments.