Alligator Nursery

“Alligator Nursery” are two words you don’t normally see together! This mother American Alligator owns this territory — has been lounging on this ledge for years, so it is no surprise that she has made this private corner the nursery for her babies. How many baby alligators can you spot in this photograph?

#alligator, #reptile, #wildlife, #mother, #babies, #gator, #corkscrew, #florida, #thingstodo, #corkscrewswampsanctuary, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #nikon, #tamron, #howmany #dangerous, #territory
Mother Alligator with at least 9 babies at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples FL, February 2020.

Mother gator tries to protect her young from predators, which include adult male alligators. Dad gator doesn’t hesitate to snack on the children.

This close-up of Mom Gator and four baby gators reminds me of the advice given to human mothers of newborns, “When baby sleeps, you should sleep.”

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Shhh… Naptime for mother alligator and babies on Lettuce Lake at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Collier County, Naples FL 2020. This image was made from a safe distance with a 600mm lens.

When visiting Florida, keep your distance from any alligator you see and don’t walk close to the edge of any lake or pond, for alligators are dangerous to humans and their pets. If the alligator is hungry, it will strike very fast without warning.

Mama Gator

The small baby alligators of the Florida Everglades are wise to follow their instincts and stay close to their mother, even lying on top of her. Their small size and still tender hides make them vulnerable to a Great Blue Heron or even a male Alligator. I spotted about six babies close to this parent.

Baby alligators like to bask in the sun, lying on their mother for protection. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, March 2018.

A 600mm lens allowed me to capture this close-up photograph, while standing about 15 feet away. It’s wise for humans to keep a safe distance away from this dangerous creature in the wild. While they lie still most of the time, when alligators are extremely quick when they attack.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Gator. Good luck keeping your babies safe.

Gator Camouflage

Wearing “camo” is in. Especially if you are an alligator and hunt for food in the wild. Alligators floating in the swamp have a natural advantage, because they resemble floating logs, and they are silent and often still. Unsuspecting fish, birds and even people swim or walk by, in close range.

This 14-foot American Alligator seen at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was cruising Lettuce Lakes early Sunday morning, beneath the nest of three Anhinga chicks. He took on a new “camo” outfit as the plants adhered to his back.

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I had to move quickly to capture this image of a large alligator from the safety of a boardwalk over the swamp.

 

 

 

Alligator, Open Wide!

Why do alligators lie there with their mouths open wide? Pretty much the same reason that a dog pants — to cool off. They might also lie in the shade or swim, but this gaping mouth gives us a good look at the gators large jaws and sharp teeth.

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Alligator cooling off on a hot day in Shark Valley, part of Everglades National Park near Miami, Florida.

 

Wary Alligator

While this gator casts a wary glance at me, I am quite wary of him too, and I keep a respectful distance. On a recent trip to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, I learned a few new facts about the American Alligator. If he chases you, don’t run serpentine, like the wive’s tale says. Run in a straight line, as fast as you can for alligators are very quick for just long enough to catch you. (They can run at 20 miles per hour.)  The jaws too are powerful (2900 pounds of force recorded), and no match for human self-defense.

#gator, #alligator, #americanalligtor, #everglades, #nationalpark, #florida, #sharkvalley, #dangerous,
Keep your distance from the American alligator. While humans are not its favorite food, it is both fast and powerful.

The 70mm lens on my Sony a2r7 camera makes it appear that I am close to the gator than I really am. (“Kids, don’t try this at home.”) Park rangers suggest a distance of at least 15 feet. Watch behind you, too. There are hundreds of alligators in the Everglades, some hidden underwater, Any fresh water watering hole in Florida could contain one.

Alligator on the move

As the great blue heron took a giant step back, this large alligator silently swam past. The heron and the gator eyed one another, but the gator seemed to have set his sights on a school of catfish just ahead.

#blueheron, #alligator, #sharkvalley, #swimming, #everglades, #wildlife, #nature
Great blue heron steps back to let the alligator swim past in Shark Valley.

In Shark Valley, there is no shortage of enormous alligators, but most of the time you see them sleeping in the sun in the middle of the day. I enjoy biking the trail in Shark Valley, even though I find the 15-mile loop very tiring.

#alligator, #sleeping, #wildlife, #nature, #everglades, #sharkvalley
Biking Shark Valley today, you may see 100 of these hefty gators.

When the alligators are on the move or sitting near the path, you need to take precautions to stay away from them. If you’d rather not risk a close encounter, you can take the National Park Service tram.

“What alligator?”

I attribute this quote to the great blue heron on the left in this photo. The heron seems rather oblivious to the enormous alligator chomping on a fish right in front of him.

In fact there is a thick assembly of birds here in what remains of Lettuce Lakes in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary as a result of the current drought in south Florida. This small lake is the only wet spot in the entire swamp, and the tension between these birds is evident. The white egrets are continually squawking at one other to move over and yield territory. See the two on the right with outstretched wings?

#blueheron, #alligator, #corkscrew, #egret, #lettucelakes, #florida, #drought, #wildlife, #nature
Does the great blue heron even see the big American Alligator? Good news: the blue heron survived, and the alligator swam over to the bank to get some sun.

In this image, I can count 7 great white egrets, two great blue heron, a wood stork, a roseate spoonbill and two snowy egrets — one of which is sitting on the alligator’s long tail. There were many more birds in the tree and nearby in the lake.  Crowding the lake and fishing aggressively, these birds are a dramatic illustration of the strain on the food supply caused by the drought.

Tomorrow I am off to Shark Valley in the Everglades again to capture some more wildlife. Stay tuned to this  blog space!