Date: 1/10/19 12:14 pm
From: Carol Joan Patterson <0000003a0ccbe138-dmarc-request...>
Subject: Re: Conservation Story
I remember those spectacular trips!  As an undergraduate taking the class Doug seemed like a magician showing us great wonders.  As a graduate Teacher's Assistant this remained true.Joanie

On Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 11:21:42 AM CST, Anant Deshwal <adeshwal...> wrote:

By the time Pooja and I took Ornithology under Dr. James, he had stopped taking his students on Texas trip during the spring break. In honor and memory of Dr. James, Pooja and I decided to take a trip to the southern tip of Texas. We planned to recreate the trip, travel just the way Dr. James did observing and recording natural history of just about everything. We were heading towards Corpus Christie when we got the call from another Graduate student Brian Becker saying that South Padre Island was cheaper and change of plans…Before I go into all birds and biota we had seen, I want to share a conservation story that happened at South Padre with all of you. Pooja, Brian and I were birding and watching the dolphins at a pier with a bunch of people around us fishing. Suddenly there was an excitement in the crowd. One of the fishermen had caught something big and he was unable to reel it in. Someone was suggesting that he probably caught a dolphin, when we noticed in the distance a Brown Pelican struggling to take off but could not. On being informed that the fisherman had caught a Pelican, he was going to cut his line. Brian and I immediately jumped and grabbed his fishing pole and line before he could cut the line. We slowly pulled the pelican in towards the pier. Once we got the Pelican to the Pier, we very slowly pulled it up reading the movement of bird and trying to ensure that it stays calm. It was a little tricky as the Pelican was being pulled up from one wing. I immediately grabbed the wing and gave support to the body of the Pelican while Brian worked on removing the hook from the wing. My main job was to keep Pelican calm and ensure that the beak with a large hook at the end of its beak stays away from Brian and me. The hook and line were terribly tangled in the wing. Finally, the hook and line were safely removed. I gave the Pelican a final round of checkup and let it go to the big wide free world full of fish. The whole process took us nearly an hour. After the rescue, Pooja said to me “Dr. James would have been so happy to hear this story!” To which I replied, “He was there with us, who do you think kept the Pelican calm.”Next day we saw a Harris’ Hawk take down a Neotropical Cormorant at Walmart Parking Lot (P.S. Walmart Parking lot is really good to bird for gulls)!We saw over 75 species of birds,  more than 200 raptors (10 species), 2 species of Woodpeckers (Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted), Clapper Rail, 2 species of Pelican, Roseate Spoonbills, Black-necked Stilts, Willet, Snowy Plover, 2 species of Kingfishers (Green and Belted), more than 2000 Black Vultures, more than 1000 Turkey Vultures, Great Blue Heron enjoying a Sunday on the beach among many others. We saw 5 species of Crabs (Blue, Mud, Stone, Ghost, hermit and an unidentified species), 2 species of squids (Ram horn’s (dead and washed up near mangrove), brief), 3 species of Jellyfish (Moon, Cannonball and an unidentified species), baby eels (they are totally clear! it’s one thing to know in theory and other to see it live!), 1 species of starfish, saw and grabbed a Mantis Shrimp (They have the strongest punch in animal kingdom!), saw the mantis shrimp punch and dismember the starfish!, puffer fish, toadfish,  an alligator right next to Tricolored Heron, Bottlenose dolphins, and a Butterfly Ray. We are working on identifying the unidentified crab and jellyfish and numerous bivalves that we saw.Natural History, Conservation, Science are three different things for many people but Dr. James taught us to see them as one. For him Science, Conservation and Natural History were not a job description but a way of life.
Anant Deshwal 
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 
https://adeshwal.com

 
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