Sandy has written an addendum to her first message. I sure hope the person who fired the bullet which whizzed by them doesn't mistake any more standing adult birdwatchers like the young man near St. Augustine who shot the Whooping Cranes thinking they were ducks.
Winter Haven, FL
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----- Original Message -----
To: 'Larry F. Albright'
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 9:07 PM
Subject: Listserve misunderstands the deal at Babcock
After reading the response from Dick Beeler, which follows below, I think that maybe my message is unclear. We were not complaining about that shooting range. The noise is undeed unnerving, but it compares very little to the sound of a bullet whizzing by your head/shoulder area. We also heard the bullet as it struck a nearby tree. This is not a case of folks unfamiliar to gun shot. We live in Michigan.
So, the message I am sending is that the area is UNSAFE to enter as this could happen to others. Whether we support a shooting range or can tolerate gunfire is not even being considered by anyone in our group. We are more concerned that we did not report this potential hazard and someone is injured. We could not live with that.
I really don't want to make waves, but simply want to express our concern for birders who visit that area.
Larry and others interested:
There is indeed a firing range at the Babcock-Webb Management Area. For
those of us used to the relative quiet of most first rate birding areas, the
sound of fire arms going off nearby never ceases to be a little un-nerving
I am a birder, but I do not shoot, so my resonse would be expected to be a
little one sided. In all fairness to those who shoot, whether they bird or
not, the sound of the guns going off does NOT seem to have a very large
negative effect on the nearby bird life. There are many areas of B-W in
which the sound of the firing is barely discernable, if it can be heard at
all. Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch
........ the list goes on and on of species that seem to have adapted well to
nearby explosions. Do I wish the range were elswhere? Yes. Can I, as a
birder, live with it where it is? Again, yes.
Fort Myers, FL
From: Larry F. Albright [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 4:36 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: GREAT Florida trip
I am absolutely appalled at the pernicious act which you described so well in your narrative. Thank God none of you were hurt! I have never heard of any such thing happening anywhere here in Florida but believe you me I will find out who should be contacted to have this incident reported. Horrified is too mild a word for this revolting experience and if there is a firing range in the area of Babcock-Webb, I hope they have sign-in and sign-out records of who was there at the time. I am sure the county sheriff's office will want all the particulars on this shooting. I have alerted all subscribers to FloridaBirds-L and Birdbrains and know they will be sending responses within a short period of time.
I am grateful that this horrendous and traumatic experience didn't ruin the rest of your birding at Honeymoon Island, Ft. DeSoto, etc. I look forward to your list of birds and offer my sincerest apologies for what occurred. I will stay in touch until we get to the bottom of this. Thanks for sharing the information with me.
----- Original Message -----
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 10:37 AM
Subject: GREAT Florida trip
We had a great time in Florida. We did the west coast as you suggested and hit Honeymoon Island (saw one of your reports and thought we should go there - super place and great day), Fort Desoto, and Backcock and more. I will forward you lists asap.
I want to share something with you about Babcock WMA. I think this should be posted to the listserve as well. We visited Babcock on Sunday April 1 in the morning. We stayed til the birds had obviously decided it was siesta time. So, we left and decided we would return later towards eveing to try to catch the Red-cockaded WP spot again in hopes of catching a sighting of them.
We got back there about 6:45 p.m. We headed to the first RCWP spot and were birding that area for a bit. We decided to head into the woods a little where you could see that others had trailed in to check the WP spot, too. At 7:13 p.m. the four of us had a bullet whiz between us. It was very disturbing. We ran like crazy to our car and we were too nervous to go back up Oil Well Grade and instead worked all the way around until we ended back at the original road. When we passed that shooting range there were cars still there, but we were not about to stop there. It ruined our day to say the least. One of us could be injured or dead right now. Very very disturbing.
I am not complaining to you, but want your counsel. I feel we should notify someone about this. I am not sure who. I also feel that the FLA listserve should be aware, as if other birding groups are heading there, the odds of getting shot are higher with more people gathered. We were so fortunate that the bullet went between us.
This was an odd deal. There was only one gun shot and then it stopped. At first we thought they were shooting at us deliberately, then figured maybe they realized the bullet had left the area and then were worried, and that's why no other shots... we really don't know, but we sure know how close we came to being a victim of a gunshot.
What do you think I should do? Who is the right authority to notify and shouldn't I post something to the listserve so others know to be careful?
I look forward to hearing from you, as well as sharing our lists with you as soon as I can get them typed up.