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As wetlands shrink, wildlife just makes do

(ran East Lake & Oldsmar edition)

The small retention pond behind the Publix at Brooker Creek, just off Ridgemoor Boulevard, doesn't look like much. But it was mecca for a variety of wildlife Friday.

A small alligator, about 3 feet long, snapped and dove, then floated listlessly near the shore of the fenced pond. A fish swam over the reptile's back and away.

Birds of a feather may flock together, but the birds around this pond are less particular.

A white great egret fished near a little blue heron. And a wood stork, federally listed as endangered, roosted in a dead tree with black vultures and crows.

"Retention ponds have replaced a lot of the wetlands in our communities," said Ann Paul, Tampa Bay regional coordinator for Audubon of Florida. "The wildlife that we see in them are using what's left."

If you have news or photos about East Lake schools, churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, community organizations or people, call Theresa Blackwell at (727) 771-4305, fax it to her at (727) 771-4301, e-mail blackwellsptimes.com or mail material to her at the North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.

A wood stork congregates with black vultures near a retention pond behind the Publix at Brooker Creek, just off Ridgemoor Boulevard. Retention ponds have replaced wetlands in many communities.

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