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Don't even think of messing with birds

By PAUL SWIDER
Published April 23, 2006


With development pressure building in their quiet, natural neighborhood, members of Riviera Bay Civic Association weren't going to sit still for bird harassment. They had already seen trees with nesting birds cut down for a new home.

So when word got out that a neighbor was shooting fireworks near a colony of yellow-crowned night herons, people hit the streets and phoned the police.

"We have some people who get pretty upset when something happens to birds," said association president David Hoover.

Between neighbors and police, the offender learned the reason not to harass the small, gray birds, protected under the migratory bird act. But bird and nature issues continue to be part of the fabric of conversations in a neighborhood that fended off a Wal-Mart on Gandy Boulevard and is fighting other, newer development.

Tucked behind the commercial strips of Fourth Street N and Gandy, residents revel in their quiet proximity to unspoiled bayside land and their namesake water body. A haven for birders and kayakers, Riviera Bay's location is also convenient for commuters, so development is coming.

Hoover said a former mobile home park on Gandy is slated to become 45 townhomes, which will send traffic through the neighborhood. Office condos next door to that and a 200-space parking lot will add to the congestion.

The neighbors said they are already feeling development impacts as stormwater runoff silts up the canals at which they used to watch manatees. And then someone had the gall to pick on their birds.

"Most of the people who have the nests are pretty protective," said Dave Kandz, an association member and a birder.

Those near the colony at First Street and 89th Avenue are proud of their feathery friends, he said.

Kandz said yellow-crowned night herons can be messy while nesting, but that lasts a month at most. Great blue herons also nest in the neighborhood, he said.

Kandz said many residents launch kayaks off the canals and paddle into the mangroves around the bay to watch birds.

Sometimes Kandz paddles to the city's Mangrove Bay Golf Course, which actually promotes wildlife habitat and has nesting red-shouldered hawks just a few feet from golfers. Residents point to that course as a contrast to one in Orlando that killed a nesting pair of hawks - and their chick - because golfers complained when the hawks tried to protect the nest. A Hernando County resident recently had a hawk nest removed for the same reason.

Kandz said the Audubon has hosted bird walks in the neighborhood, which is also adjacent to the Weedon Island Preserve.

Hoover said he would like the city to pay more attention to the neighborhood's needs, such as drainage and a new taller bridge over the neck of the bay. If not, he would like to keep his neighborhood just the way it is.

"It should be pristine," he said. "That's the way we like it."

Neighborhood meetings

The next Lakewood Estates Neighborhood Association meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lakewood United Church of Christ, 2601 54th Ave. S. with City Council member James Bennett discussing homelessness.

The Old Pasadena Neighborhood Association will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Pasadena Community Church, 227 70th St. S. to talk about events and fundraising.

The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association will hold a hurricane preparedness meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Coquina Key Clubhouse, 3850 Pompano Drive SE.

The Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association will hold a brainstorming session about applying for a Neighborhood Partnership Grant at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bay Vista Recreation Center, 7000 Fourth St. S.

The Bayou Highlands Neighborhood Association will hold its next meeting outdoors at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the median at Lake Maggiore Boulevard and Sixth Street S. City Council member James Bennett will speak.

The Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association will hold a yard sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Residents will have wares for sale in their yards and alleys. Westminster Presbyterian Church at 11th Avenue and First Street NE will be "Sale Central" for food, kids' activities, and more.

The Northeast Park Neighborhood Association is having a Picnic in the Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Crisp Park on Poplar Street between 38th and 34th avenues NE. Cost is $5 per person for lunch. Call 251-4900 to reserve a lunch, or bring your own.

Readers wishing to submit information for the Neighborhood Notebook can contact Times staff writer Paul Swider either by e-mail at pswider@sptimes.com or by phone at 892-2271. Neighborhood association presidents who would like to publish their organization's information directly to the Web on their own itsyourtimes.com blog should also contact Paul Swider at pswider@sptimes.com.

[Last modified April 23, 2006, 11:09:58]


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