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David, et al: Your observations re marked increases in spring tides along
the Atlantic coast is spot-on and has been noted here for the last ten years
or more. I fully suspect we are witnessing a manifestation of sea level
rise. One would anticipate that someone is monitoring the phenomenon and we
will eventually receive "official" documentation/confirmation of these
events. Logic suggest that sea level will rise incrementally over time, but
reality indicates that it is occurring in the form of increased spring tides
year round. For those unfamiliar with the term "spring tide" this has
nothing to do with season but rather refers to a normal or predicted tide
"springing up" or rising higher than normal due to a variety of
circumstances. Such as: wind, moon phase, planetary influence, atmospheric
pressure, storm surge, or sea level rise.   

-----Original Message-----
From: Florida Birds [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of David
Hartgrove
Sent: Saturday, December 07, 2013 7:11 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FLORIDABIRDS-L] Little Blue Heron, Strange Behavior -
SALAMANDERS

Hi All,
  Even though I've never heard of salamanders utilizing brackish or salt
marsh habitat, I'm sure that's what I saw the Little Blue Heron eating. In
my original post I neglected to mention that it was high tide that morning.
And I mean really high tide. I've been teaching birds to school kids in this
park for the past 19 years. Over the past 2 or 3 years I've noticed that
what used to be at best semi-annual events, when we had full moon Spring and
Autumn tides, are now becoming regular events. High tides now regularly
reach areas almost never inundated before. It could easily be that this
salamander (that's certainly what it looked like) was trying to escape the
rising brackish water by walking atop the vegetation and was headed in the
wrong direction. The heron came along and found what turned out to be a
nasty treat that could have killed him. I had posted a slightly expanded
version of my post on the Cornell Lab's blog but have not heard any
responses. Until someone comes up with a more plausible explanation, I think
the mystery is solved.
 
David Hartgrove
Daytona Beach, FL



On Dec 7, 2013, at 12:43 PM, Renne Leatto wrote:

> I received a private reply in response to my other posts about salamander
toxicity.  Even though it does not relate to birds, Ron Smith gave me
permission to re-post it here to anyone who might find it interesting.
> "I'm not a member of Birdbrains, plus this is a non-birding story.  2-3
months ago, a friend was doing yard work and injured a salamander pretty
badly.  She didn't have the heart to kill it, so she picked it up and moved
it out of the way.  She then wiped the sweat away from around her eyes with
her hand, and went inside.  She immediately developed agonizing pain in both
eyes and couldn't stand to open them.  She said the pain was so bad that she
was screaming (and she's not a wimp).  She managed to speed dial a neighbor
who took her to the ER.  The diagnosis was severe bilateral corneal
abrasions from the toxin. She had copious irrigation until the pain subsided
enough for her to go home.  She saw the eye MD the next AM and there was no
permanent damage.  So -  good info to know about salamanders.  I had no
idea."
>  
> Renee Leato
> Windermere, Orange, Co.
>  
>  
>  
> From: Renne Leatto [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, December 5, 2013 2:55 PM
> Subject: Re: Little Blue Heron, Strange Behavior
>  
> I would think that the heron would have more likely died if it was from
suffocation, because the bird lost consciousness and was not able to spit up
the prey.  
> 
> And if it had passed out due to suffocation, the bird would have tried 
> to regurgitate it before it passed out.  As it was, David said that 
> the bird appeared to be "drunk" before falling over, a common reaction 
> to certain poisons.  (Alcohol is a poison that makes people move a lot 
> like David described the bird doing.)
> 
> The salamander toxin is not supposed to be strong enough to harm a human,
unless you lick it. There is a more toxic salamander species in California
but we don't have those here. 
> 
> Renee Leato
> Windermere, Orange Co.
>  
>  
>  
>  
>  
> From: Kathie Benson [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, December 5, 2013 2:21 PM
> To: Renne Leatto; [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [BRDBRAIN] Little Blue Heron, Strange Behavior
>  
> This is just a thought.  Could the heron have been choking and experienced
loss of oxygen from which it recovered?  The swinging of its neck could have
been an effort to dislodge it. If the bird were poisoned, the effect might
have lasted longer. Does someone know something about the nature of
salamander toxins?
> K Benson
>  
> 
> On Thursday, December 5, 2013 1:43 PM, Renne Leatto <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:
> David and all,
>  
> Salamanders secrete toxic substances on their skin which discourages birds
and other animals from eating them.  As you noted, that didn't save this
particular salamander, but I'd bet that bird won't pick up another
salamander for lunch - ever - thus saving many others of the species to live
and reproduce.
>  
> Renee Leato
> Windermere, Orange Co.
>  
>  
> From: David Hartgrove [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, December 5, 2013 5:45 AM
> Subject: Little Blue Heron, Strange Behavior
>  
> Hi,
>   On Tuesday I was standing on the fishing dock at Spruce Creek Park, in
Volusia County with a group of high school kids. About 50 feet out in the
marsh there stood an immature Little Blue Heron. Some distance further out
there was a Great Egret. This was a good teaching moment since I could point
out the difference in leg and bill color and show a picture in the field
guide of what the bird would look like this time next year. As we watched,
the bird reached out with its bill and snagged what appeared to be a
salamander, though I'm unaware of any salamanders that use a brackish
habitat. At any rate, through my binoculars I could see that whatever it was
had a tail and hind legs that looked salamander like and appeared to be
solid black. The bird struggled a bit swallowing the critter and then began
to act strange. It was standing on top of the vegetation, which was sea
rocket and other kinds of matter I don't know the name of. So it wasn't
especially steady on its feet to begin with. Within seconds of swallowing
whatever it was the bird began to appear drunk. Its difficulty in walking
became even more pronounced, it began to swing its head back and forth and
suddenly fell over backwards with its wings splayed out. The bird remained
motionless on its back for about 30 to 40 seconds. We all thought it was
dead. Then its legs jerked a time or two, its wings seemed to flutter a bit,
it slowly got upright and stood there for a few seconds and began trying to
walk back away from us. Within a few more seconds it flew off about 75 yards
out to the top of a black mangrove where it sat for about 10 minutes. Then
it flew off to the west and we didn't see it again.
>  
>   In all my years of birding I've never seen a bird have this type of
reaction. I had no idea there was any organism in salt marshes that could
have such a profound effect on a bird. I hope someone can shed some light on
this episode. It sure has me baffled.
>  
> David Hartgrove
> Daytona Beach, FL
>  
>  
>  
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