Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pelican Island

It was the first. The very first. At the turn of the 19th century the passenger pigeon, the Carolina parakeet, the American bison, 80% of Floridas birdlife and a series of other birds and mammals had all but disappeared. They were slaughtered in an orgy of greed, profiteering and carelessness. The wonderful wading birds of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts had become the staple for women's fashionable hats. There was only one place, on the Atlantic coast, a tiny 5.5 acre island named after the birds, where a small flock of Brown Pelicans survived.
And it went on and on. Till some true American heroes stepped forward and took action. Tormented by the slaughter a German immigrant, named Paul Kroegel eventually made heroic attempts to ward off feather hunters from Pelican Island with his own 10-gauge shotgun. Kroegel's bravery and dedication received the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, one of my personal heroes, established Pelican Island in 1903 as a "preserve and breeding ground for native birds" and appointed Kroegel as the first Refuge Manager. It was the beginning of the conservation movement and the start of the National Wildlife Refuges. Today, they are the largest system of lands for wildlife in the world.
With Joe, our genial host driving, we headed off to the barrier islands, which encompass Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. Smal Pelican Island itself stands alone and protected amidst the refuge itself. It proved to be a fun day.
A sign and a Kestral welcomed us. We had a picnic lunch overlooking a small marsh and then took a hike to look for birds.....
A "snake bird" stands guard along the "jungle trail" an unpaved road along the edge of the refuge. A red shouldered hawk joins the watch.
The namesake of the refuge, the brown pelican reflects on the more secure days he and his comrades now enjoy in this beautiful place.














The refuge islands lie off the coast of Sebastian, Florida and the Indian River Estuary. If you click on the picture you can see the town in the distance. The Audobon Society and concerned citizens had to fight in the 60's to prevent "development" from once again destroying the barrier island chain.
Later, the midwestern landlubbers can't help but dip their toes, for the first time, in the Atlantic Ocean. Barb and Joe keep an eye out while "Chicken" Troutbirder, cautious of rip tides, goes ankle deep. Queen B then follows...
Later that afternoon, wind permitting, a "sky jumping" outing is planned. Again stay tuned.

16 comments:

  1. Very nice area to be in. I would like to be there during migration times. You have to feel that ocean, I am glad you didn't get swept away.HA! I imagine it was a bit cold.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How neat that you've been to both coasts of Florida now! Did you see any Portuguese men of war or spinner sharks? Glad you got your feet wet...not real warm but not as cold as off the coast of New England!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Um... I haven't been in Florida in 10 yrs...but isn't that an anhinga?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for a very interesting post. I knew that Pelican Island was the first National Wildlife Refuge, but I hadn't heard about Paul Kroegel. It's just too bad that the fight to prevent development of these areas has to be fought over and over again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The juxtaposition of the photo at the top of the page today, the one of the the yard of your pretty house encased in beautiful white ice, with you up to your ankles in the pretty blue sea at the bottom of the post, is terrific! Welcome back!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great photo of that brown pelican!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh my gosh, I have a new hero in Paul Kroegel. Wonderful man, as well as Mr. Roosevelt of course.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I enjoyed your bird photos..especially the one of the "chicken" ..looks like a great place to visit! Thanks also for the history..I never could figure out why women wanted to wear dead birds on their heads:(

    ReplyDelete
  9. Excellent Blog Ray, you are doing exactly what I want to do when I retire. I just want to take pictures, drink beer and fish! You have a great eye for photography. Take care and hope for warmer days.

    Ricky

    ReplyDelete
  10. BTW I noticed you are a birder like I am, if you ever come East this way I would love to show you Horicon Marsh. The Spring time is amazing time there. Here are a few pictures from there, talk to you later Ray:
    http://rljslick.smugmug.com/Nature-Weather-Animals/Horicon-Marsh-Wildllife-Refuge/13331056_55hHC#969082887_zUwzw

    ReplyDelete
  11. ...loved this post. Thank goodness for President Teddy Roosevelt (he's one of my heros too).

    ReplyDelete
  12. Looks like a very grand place. I've birded in Florida a few times, but never went there. I'll just have to put it on my list!!~karen

    ReplyDelete
  13. I didn't know the story of how the US wildlife reserves got started (I'm a Cdn). It's heartbreaking how Nature was plundered and destroyed - as you say, through greed and thoughtlessness. Thank goodness one or two people realized what was happening and had the courage to defend. Thanks for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a neat history lesson! God bless Mr. Kroegel and his forward thinking of the time. :c)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Browns rarely migrate through here. We see the white ones flying by both spring and fall. I like visiting the refuge. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hooray for Roosevelt and for people like Paul Kroegel! We need more of them, especially today. Looks like you had a great day. :)

    ReplyDelete