On Thursday, several of us headed out to explore and photograph the Aucilla River. Turned out the water level was too low, so we only made three miles (in several hours) and had to give up. (I did get some good photos though.) The former shoals and rapids were mere beds of sharp, slippery rocks. Anyway, two of us were waiting where we pulled our boats out (near a road) while the others walked back to get the car. Something white flashed in the woods and caught Liz's eye. It turned out to be this beautiful red-tailed hawk.
She must have dived low over the river to catch a fish and instead, got caught on someone's abandoned trot line. The hook snagged her right elbow. Luckily the line broke and she was able to fly up to this tree.... but then the line got tangled on the tree. The hawk was able to stand on a small branch, with her wing pulled overhead, but she was exhausted when we found her. A predator would surely have found her before morning... but, lucky again, we found her. I climbed to where I could throw a shirt over her, and a couple more to disable the talons and beak, then cut the line and the little branch (so she could keep holding on). She stared into my eyes the entire time, threatening a little, but never struggling. She gratefully swallowed water I dribbled into her mouth and rode to town swaddled on my lap.
Sue called the Animal Hospital to let them know we were bringing her in, though we wished we'd called St. Francis directly and talked with Sandy because the vet needed St. Francis's directives before they could treat her. She was quite shocky, but, I hope in pretty good shape. She didn't seem to have any broken bones. I hope to hear from St. Francis about how she's doing. My imagination sees her getting rehabilitated, released, and soaring once again over the Aucilla River.