Dangerous Waters

Hello everyone! We are quickly approaching the end of another year of blogging – my 11th year to be specific – and hoping to get a few more posts out before Father Time turns over the hourglass. The good news is other than a few cleanups here and there I am officially on vacation until the New Year giving me plenty of time to get that done. Of course, there are Halloween props to build (yes, that is a year long activity), books to read, house projects to finally wrap up and fingers crossed, some birding to get to. Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of the images for upcoming musings done while traveling Sunday removing the most difficult part of the blog process. The birds have been dominating the slots as of late and therefore switching it up a bait .. err … bit.
Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Nothing says Christmas like Alligators. Okay, maybe not, but I needed an excuse to feature this series of shots taken at the beginning of the year (note, that might seem a long time ago, but my back queue of shots has officially crested over 4 years – an embarrassing amount, but relieved to know my brother Ron having once chastised me for my inefficiencies is now experiencing a similar queue buildup ha!). Our menacing looking specimen comes to us courtesy of South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center.

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this menacing creature.

You may recall a set of Alligators was featured back in February (link here) from the same place – those were taken in January of 2017. That featured specimen from Padre Island was significantly larger than the one you are looking at now. This one was in the 6 to 7 foot range and didn’t immediately illicit the “get the hell away from here” response that larger one did. Of course, it also didn’t bring a desire to jump in and enjoy a cuddle moment. It was comforting to know it would require more than a few bites before this prehistoric creature would make me disappear.

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

I cannot say the same for the creatures that were also in the area. Less than 30 feet away in all directions were shorebirds and ducks going about their daily business without an apparent concern in the world. The Clapper (link here) and the Green Heron (link here) were actually taken right before and after getting these shots in the tin. Tells you something about the resolve some of our feathered friends possess – and by resolve I mean complete stupidity. Granted they have the advantage with the ability to take flight, but pretty sure that Clapper never saw this Alligator as it continued to forage along the bank.

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

About the time that Clapper emerged, this guy or gal lowered into the water (sorry, no clue how to tell these beasts apart from afar and no chance on flipping it over for validation – I do know females generally stay less than 10 feet long, but still no help here). Likely correlation as opposed to causation being that it didn’t really show any other reaction indicating that Clapper was in jeopardy. Maybe there is some hidden code that tells birds when it’s safe to be around them — or again, they are likely just stupid. Eventually our scaly friend found a nice rock to rest on and there it sat for the rest of the morning, content to soak up the sun and dream about one day …

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

…growing to the size of another inhabitant of the South Padre Island marsh. Now this one did scare the crap out of me and I was shooting from the safety of the boardwalk. He never revealed the full length of his body while I was there preferring to let you infer how many licks it would take to get to the center of Bri – a one, a two, a three, crunch (link here for those not familiar with the reference). Based on the fact I was unable to get all of the Gator (that I could actually see) in the frame immediately told me this was a male – clearly over 10 feet and plenty more.

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

It was the fangs that truly intrigued me. Based on some quick searches, learned that it typically takes an Alligator 10-12 years to reach 6 foot long. Their rate of growth also starts slowing as they get older, so the remaining 4+ probably took at least that long. To have fangs this clean tells me this beast is chomping down on gritty items (read bones) at regular intervals.

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Can’t help to feel a little sorry for the Heron he was eyeing from the bank, but we must all accept the circle of life when it comes to the wildlife arena. Suspect the tadpoles being plucked from the water do not hold that same concern for the Heron ha!

Take it easy everyone, will be back soon.

4 thoughts on “Dangerous Waters”

    1. I do have the luxury of carrying big glass but truthfully I had the benefit of laying on a boardwalk that was about four feet up so safe… wait a minute… I better make sure these monsters can’t climb or jump! Now, the swamps of Georgia are a different story. I have not processed those shots for the blog yet, but Linda and I were down there a few years ago and had multiple encounters with them. The first was when we were standing on a levee only to look down and see one coming at us and then diving 15 feet out – Linda ran all the way back to the vehicle leaving me to defend myself – it never surfaced, no idea where it went. The other time I was out walking on what I thought was just a rocky trail. Went to step on rock to give me a better position to take some pics of a Glossy Ibis when the damn rock opened its eyes. I can count on one hand the number of times I almost got myself in serious trouble while birding – this is near the top. Thankfully a bit wiser as a result. Thor must have done a hell of a job over there if a Deer, a Cow and a Gull make it on your most dangerous animals list https://www.planetdeadly.com/animals/uk-dangerous-animals. Thanks for stopping by Brian.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Yikes!! The Herring Gulls in the UK are vicious:

    “The standard modus operandi of the seagull is to make a couple of low passes which might involve emptying its bowels or stomach on you. Following this, if you haven’t run for cover, the gull will gain altitude and dive, approaching its target from behind. Hitting a top speed of around 40 mph (60 km/h) the gull drags its claws across the victims head often resulting in a deep cut. In recent attacks one woman was hospitalised, a dog pecked to death and a Welsh pensioner died of a heart attack during an attack.”

    That’s kind of like my standard birding outing (twitch?), but not by Herring Gulls. I did have a herd of 40-50 steers chase me once through a meadow when I was birding, which scared the hell out of me. I see this is also documented in the “cows” entry on that page of deadly animals in the UK.

    I also almost fell out a boat in the rain forest area of northeastern Australia while taking a picture of a bird flying over my head, which would have been my last photograph since there were the world’s largest crocodiles swimming around the boat waiting to meet me. So I know what you mean about those alligators. Also, I would fear the smaller alligators even more, maybe, since they will move a lot faster.

    Ron

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, let’s set the record straight, they were harmless dairy Cows and not vicious, spear wielding steers. Now the boat story, I can definitely believe that – I almost saw you step in a large hole in a middle of a wooden bridge while were were birding – still shudder to think how much that would have hurt if your foot had dropped through that. Same nightmares when I think about your head almost being crushed by a bathroom door by the hysterical lady at Wheldon Springs. Scary stuff!

    Like

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