Sarasota News Leader

10/19/2012

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Mike, I guarantee you will hear the piercing screams of the "crying bird," as the Limpkin is also called, throughout the birds' springtime mating and nesting season. You can hear them night and day. The cries are mostly those of males vigorously defending their territory from encroaching intruders. Limpkins are gregarious communal nesters, but, as with humans who live side-by-side with other humans, the sense of "my-space- do-not-trespass" is very strong. That is the ornithologist's scientific explana- tion for those anguished cries. Personally, I wonder if they don't express the parents' de- spair over having a hungry adult-sized chick still living at home. Otus EXPECTED AND UNEXPECTED SIGHTINGS: PART II The bobcat population on south Siesta Key is still thriving and proliferating. It is getting to the point where I can't leave my perch without almost flying into one. People are reporting a momcat with her two adorable (i.e., almost as cute as an owlet) kit- tens roaming throughout Turtle Beach Park and its bayside areas. But to date, I've seen only one photo as a result of the dozens of sightings. On Sept. 16, in the 8700 block of Midnight Pass Road, on a sandy inlet within the man- groves, Angel Rios took a cell phone photo of a fiercely glaring mama sitting guard in front of her kitten, which was peering at Angel with cautious curiosity. Unfortunately, the photo's pixel resolution is too low for inclusion here. A warning to readers: Bobcat kittens will re- main with their mother for some six months. If you spot a solitary, immature bobcat, do not approach it and try to "pet the kitty." Protec- tive mama is never more than a few feet away. More interestingly, a couple of weeks ago, Angel reported seeing a "Black Panther" near that same inlet. This is the third sighting of one in that area during the past year. Angel, who has more than 20-plus years of experi- ence with our key's wildlife — piscine, avian and mammal — provided me with my first de- tailed description of the cat people claim is a Black Panther. (Angel is one of the few people who know how to find me; most of you walk right past me!) The cat slowly emerged from the mangroves onto the driveway. It was not more than 10 yards from Angel. It was jet black and mea- sured about 18 inches tall, with a body length of 24 inches, excluding its very long tail. It saw Angel. Then, moving with great speed, the cat headed straight down the lawn, hugging the line of mangroves. Suddenly it veered into the mangroves and vanished. Angel Rios has provided us with the first accu- rate and detailed description of a black morph Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi ) on our key. Otus ABOUT OTUS Otus Rufous, an Eastern Screech-Owl, was born on Sies- ta Key and is a full-time resident there. An avid hunter, accomplished vocalist and genuine night owl, Otus is a keen observer of our local wildlife and knows many of nature's secrets. Otus will answer your questions about our amazing wildlife, but only if you Ask Otus. So please send your questions and photos to askotus@sarasotanews- leader.com. Thank you.

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