Skip to main content
On a hot summer afternoon, the Gulf & Bay Club’s swans, Valentino and Natasha, sought some extra cooling from the fountain spray in the complex’s big pond. Photo by Nancy Deckard.
Siesta Key Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2011 6 years ago

Island Beat: Gulf & Bay Club members mourning loss of swans

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

During the summer, Nancy Deckard, a regular attendee at Siesta Key Association meetings, said she would send me a photo of the current pair of swans at the Gulf & Bay Club on the Key. She had spotted them under the spray of the fountain in the big pond on the grounds, on a hot day.

When I heard nothing from her, I figured she was just busy. It turned out that was far from he real story.

Deckard recently did email me to say she had been hesitant to send the photo of the swans, Valentino and Natasha, because both flew off after our conversation.” Deckard said the general manager at Gulf & Bay Club “neglected to have (the swans’) wings clipped, as is needed each year to protect them from flying into a building or going out into the Gulf, where they are not prepared for waves or predators.”

Residents are heartsick about the loss, she added, especially because they had warned the general manager that the clipping needed to be done. The complex had a pair of swans for decades, Deckard wrote, “and this pair was the cutest and most sociable of all.”

The complex experienced other swan mishaps in February 2010, she wrote. Valentino’s sister flew off, and Valentino injured himself when he flew into the Jamaica Royale complex; he had to be taken to a vet for treatment.

A year ago, Deckard wrote, the complex finally was able to locate a suitable “lady friend” for Valentino.

“(Because) swans mate for life, we needed a young, unattached female,” she said.

Valentino made his escape first this summer. When he left, Natasha “waddled to the parking lot to look for him and had to be lured back to the pond with feed.”

The lure of food evidently was greater than the lure of love.

Crossing craziness
A Key resident who called last week complained about how disrespectful and reckless drivers are on the island.

“It’s getting really hard out here, the way people drive,” Nicole Disammartino said.

Siesta has many residents who are older and simply cannot walk that fast when crossing a road, she said
“It does get out of hand with these drivers — especially these young people,” Disammartino said.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Osborne told me he realizes many of the tourists who drive down Ocean Boulevard, especially for the first time, don’t realize the crosswalks are there until they’re practically on top of them — and sometimes not even then.

Osborne gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. Shortly after I started working full-time for the Pelican Press, he told me never to cross the street, even in a crosswalk, with a vehicle coming unless I could make eye contact with the driver and knew for sure the driver would stop.

He also said traffic laws allow a driver to proceed through a crosswalk with a pedestrian if the pedestrian has cleared the driver’s travel lane.

So that’s how you do it
After I learned the proper techniques for snorkeling in the spring, several people recommended to me that I take my gear down to Point of Rocks. These folks have been effusive about the underwater scenery — but no one could offer a simple way to access the snorkeling area, except by kayak.

It is understandable that private homeowners who live by Point of Rocks are not too keen on having people just show up and wander through their yards.

However, I recently learned a simple way to work around that problem. Of course, by putting this in print and subsequently on the web, I am jeopardizing my own chances of taking advantage of it. Still …

Brad Robertson, the county project manager who oversaw the improvements this summer at Access 12 on Crescent Beach, said people often use that access for parking so they can snorkel at Point of Rocks. Some spaces are available along Stickney Point Road, too, he said.

I imagine the spaces along the road can be snared more easily this time of year than during season.

Chalk up another one for Bruce
Siesta Key native Bruce Merkle, a 2005 graduate of Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Program, has another credit on his Hollywood résumé. He will appear on the Sept. 23 “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, singing in a comedy skit, his mother, Marlene Merkle, reported last week.

Bruce first spoke with Leno during a taping of the show in 2000, when Bruce was an audience member.
Bruce already has had roles in “How I Met Your Mother,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Victorious” and “Big Love.”

Related Stories