So last night I decided to go to one of my favorite places, the North Jetty in Nokomis, to see if the ‘green flash’ would appear at sunset. Conditions were perfect…low humidity, blue sky, no clouds in sight. Packed up a thermos of coffee and off I go.
When I arrive however, a crowd has gathered in the parking lot and a fire truck is on the scene. My first thought was someone became ill or was injured, but it quickly became apparent that something else was going on. Everyone was looking up, at the top of a tall pine.
And there it was…a pelican, hanging upside-down by it’s foot (or feet, hard to tell), flapping it’s wings in an effort to free itself. No doubt the pelican was dragging fishing line or netting, which became entangled when the bird went to roost. It was a pitiful sight and looked pretty impossible…but the Nokomis Fire Dept. was on it. It was a difficult rescue, as the bird was at the top of the tree. It took the firemen several attempts to correctly position the truck and ladder..complicated by the fact that the truck with the bigger ladder was at the scene of a structure fire, so this shorter ladder would have to do.
After sunset (which I never did see, as the gulf is behind all the focus on the rescue) the firemen were successful in getting the ladder as close as possible…which still left about a 10 foot gap between the top rung and the bird. In the dark, one of the firemen climbed the ladder with a long hooked pole. It took him several minutes to grab the branches and pull the exhausted pelican to him. Of course, the pelican rewarded him by trying to bite, but the fireman was undaunted. He finally got a grip on the bird and brought him down, to the cheers and applause of the crowd.
Once on the ground, it quickly became apparent that none of the firemen knew how to handle a pelican. There I go (having worked in the seabird hospital and knowing how) and suddenly I find myself kneeling on the ground behind the firetruck with a very weary and injured pelican in my arms. The bird had a nasty 2-inch fishing lure imbedded in its leg. The lure was trailing a few feet of line, which had caught in the tree branches.
We moved the bird away from the truck, and I held it in the relative calm darkness while the firemen attempted to find a wildlife rescuer who could take the bird to the hospital. About 45 minutes later, I handed the pelican off to the rescuer from the Wildlife Center of Venice, who responded to the call and took the bird to their hospital. I’ll check on its progress and report here how it’s doing.
Never did see the sunset, but well worth missing it.