Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanks for the fishy memories!

We have released the last of our seals.

After all the nasty weather we had, we were a bit anxious, wondering what the weather was going to be like. We shouldn't have worried. It ended up being a beautiful day and we got to introduce them to their new environment in calm waters.

It was also the quickest seal release I have ever been to, with all of them taking to the water the minute their crate doors were opened.

It was also one of those sad/happy moments when you realize just how empty Wolf Hollow will be without them there. But having time to spend out by the seal pool finally gave me a chance to get a picture of Limpet. You remember, she's the seal that came in with the wounds to the head and the bad eye.

Well, it's been interesting to see how this loss of an eye has affected her. And one of the things that slowly began to emerge was the fact that while the damaged eye shrank, the other eye GREW! I wanted to make sure it wasn't some weird...no pun intended here...optical illusion, but it wasn't. Problem was, the older she got, the more camera shy she became! And she NEVER hauled out onto the platform. So getting a picture of has been the biggest photo challenge I have had this year. Seriously, this is what I usually caught on film when trying to photograph her.

I was always just a FRACTION too slow. You could almost hear her mocking and japing me! But my infinite patience paid off with this picture I took while waiting to net her for release.

It's still not the best picture of her, but you get the gist. All of us came to an agreement that it must be nature's way of compensating for the loss of her other eye.

Let's move on to the other temporary residents of Chez Wolf Hollow. We got in a Bufflehead a couple of weeks ago. When found, she was thin and, like most animals that are ailing, had a heavy parasite load. The first time I saw her, she let me know in no uncertain terms that she didn't appreciate my interest in her, which is a good sign.

Isn't she cute?! She was eating well enough that by last week she was getting swim sessions to try and get her waterproofing up and running again.

My guess is that, if she hasn't been already, she will be released soon.

We released the five older raccoons and had the oh-so-fun task of catching the three smaller ones who were residing in the weaning cage so we could move them out to the woods to their final residence. Catching them was a HUGE challenge and let's just say that catching the first five, which we had raised from babies, was one HECK of a lot easier than these three, which were already youngsters when they arrived at Wolf Hollow. I don't have pics of this endeavor, as it was my job to hold open the crate door and then slam it shut after each of the screaming and biting youngsters was put in. But I do have pics of them being released in their new enclosure.

And of course, they did what one would expect raccoons to do after being freed from the dreaded carrier...they headed for the high ground!

The outdoor woods enclosure is interesting, as it has a big tree at the center, so it kind of looks like a circus tent. When we left, the three of them were trying their hardest to squeeze out the top.

We released the Merlin! First, we caught him so we could transfer him to the Heron Cage to make sure he could fly well, including turning and landing.

While he wasn't thrilled about being handled, he passed his flying test and when he wouldn't self-release, i.e. fly out the door, we had to catch him again and then.....

That's it from the frozen San Juan Islands.

Til next time...