If you haven’t figured it out yet, I live in alligator land, more commonly known to locals as gatorland. Not only does this apply to sports teams names that are abundant in the state of Florida, but also applies to nature walks.
Throughout this spring, we have taken to exploring more of the interior of Florida and have found that no kidding, alligators are in a lot of places and Florida has earned the name of alligator land or gatorland.
Recently on a walk we encounter a small nest of three baby alligators. There they were, nestled in a nature made pool of sticks and fallen trees along the banks of the Myakka River. They looked so cute and I can totally understand why they are endangered. Someone with a medium size net could easily just scoop them up, removing them from their natural habitat and take them home. Of course, eventually they would get too big and too dangerous and we would have another dislocated alligator released somewhere to fend for itself. This is what I was thinking on the way up the trail!
On the way back we thought, lets take one more look at these adorable reptiles in alligator land of Myakka. As we approached the area, we heard a very loud, big snort. Of course, I am beginning to panic! As we get closer, we see two adult alligators heads raise from the fresh water of the Mayakka River and one big roar. Now, I have never heard an alligator roar or snort and I am not familiar with how fast they can climb an embankment, but I do know they are fast!
Needless to say we pass rather quickly so we are downwind of the two adult alligators and circle back to take one more look at the baby alligators and spot the adults in protection mode. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the roar. Truthfully, I had no desire to provoke or disturb the wildlife. I have read enough books to know the lengths wildlife can go to protect their young.
Parent on Patrol
However, when I returned home and did some research and discovered alligators in Florida’s alligator land are not found of human meat I was comforted and ready to take another hike looking for them.
Alligators, babies and more were the target of my shoot last Sunday at the Myakka State Park. Recently, this has become our go to spot for hiking and general immersion in nature. It is really quite beautiful to see and be in “old Florida”. One of the few natural habitats in my area (southwest Florida) that has not been infiltrated by non indigenous plant species. Everything from palm and oak trees, Spanish moss, exotic birds and of course alligators grow freely, protected and uninhibited there.
We are always on the lookout for alligators. It is easy to spot their hangout spots always close to the shoreline and filled with sun. The vegetation is brown amongst tall green grass and literally all smashed down from their endless lounging. Luckily they seem to hangout on the opposite side of the river as the hiking trail. But one never knows when or where they may cross over, which adds to the adventure of the hike. Often times we see them in water; their partial snout and eyes just right above the waterline taking it all in or maybe spotting prey. Lets hope not human.
This past week, I had my Canon 5D Mark II camera with the 70-200 f2.8L lens. I used a mono-pod for stability and even though the wind was pretty kicked up, I was happy with my images. It is hard to go wrong with that lens. Give it plenty of shutter speed and the rendering is beautiful. Although I love nature and totally enjoy being in it, I will admit, unless I am with a group of photographers, I am not much of a landscape photographer. It requires a level of patience I currently do not have. There as such wonderful landscape photographers, professional and amateur that know how to capture the essence of a scene. I am much more of a zoom in on the details type of person/photographer. This I believe is illustrated with my portfolio at www.susanmcanany.com
Regardless, I had a blast on Sunday and here is a shot of the alligators we saw. This shot contains a momma and baby alligators off to the right somewhat concealed in the vegetation. Very fascinating!