A Tipping Point

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

Do you ever wonder where the tipping point  for our planet is?  Some say we're approaching it.  Some say we've passed it.  Some even believe the planet runs in cycles, that nothing we do or don't do will ever phase it.  

I often times wonder whether there ever will be a meeting of minds.

How do you reach those who don't understand the quiet peacefulness that can be had when a view through a tree is your only neighbor.

How do you explain the beauty of nature's natural palette to those whose eyes don't take the time to see.

How do you impart an appreciation for the role that all wildlife play on this planet to those who let fear govern their decisions..

Does the road we're following lead to a better tomorrow for our planet? 

Will we make the right choices?

Where is that tipping point? 

A Harley in the Myakka?

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A Harley in Myakka?

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

I've said it before and I'll say it again, you just never know what you'll see or experience when you pay a visit to Myakka River State Park.  This morning, as I was counting the number of alligators visible downstream, I happened to notice one of them look as though he might begin a courtship ritual.

His head was arcing above the water, his snout was pointing to the heavens and he was puffing out his jaw.  I figured next on his agenda would be to dip his body under water to blow out the air bubbles but before I could witness the "water dance," a loud roar of a Harley caused me to turn to the side to see why a motorcycle might be reving his engine on the bridge.

To my utter amazement, the "Harley" was the alligator that had been sleeping on the other side of the bridge but had been awakened out of his slumber by the challenge of this other alligator having the audacity to court one of his nearby lady friends.  In powerful strokes, "Harley" quickly made it under the bridge and was now bellowing out his dominance of the river.  Once his bellows was sounded, down he dipped and the water dance began.

Then, back up "Harley" roared and this time he lunged higher.  He was the KING OF THE RIVER.  He would tolerate no challengers.  To prove his worth, back down he went to once more perform his water dance to all his admiring ladies.

As I watched "Harley" demonstrate his manhood to all his admirers, I couldn't help but notice how proud HE was of his own performance.

I also looked at his challenger to see if he had gotten the picture and had backed down but unfortunately he was still trying his luck at attracting one of Harley's ladies.

He was good, but he still had a long way to go to challenge a guy like "Harley" and hopefully he waits a few more years before he takes him on.  "Harley" doesn't look like a guy you'd mess with.  There's a reason why he is the solitary KING OF THIS STRETCH OF THE RIVER.

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No doubt Myakka has plenty of other lady alligators who would gladly welcome the interest of a studly King in Waiting.

Do You Really Need a Selfie With and Alligator?

Do You Really Need a Selfie With and Alligator?

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

The other day I was watching a segment on TV about the need for "selfie-free" zones when risky behavior is involved.  Too many people were dying trying to get the "shot of a lifetime."  Today when I went to Myakka River State Park, I witnessed the potential for injury that is inherent in this type of shot.   As I was driving over the bridge, I happened to notice 3 young men attempting to approach an alligator sunning herself on the bank downstream.  The men were within striking distance of the alligator but apparently they didn't consider that a problem.  I don't know if they wanted to touch her or get a picture with her but it looked as though they were hovering rather close to her.  By the time I parked the car and walked to the bridge, the guys had apparently gotten their selfie or whatever they wanted and were long gone.

I was glad.  At least I didn't have to worry about the lunacy of this action since there were several alligators partially submerged in the river near the one on the bank.  After all it WAS courting season. When I got to the bridge and looked upriver, one of Myakka's BIG GUYS was snoozing away and enjoying some quality time along the river.  At least he was.

Within 5 minutes, he had some company approaching him and it wasn't one of his lady-friends. Cautiously the man approached the alligator.  He wanted his "once in a lifetime" shot.

I could not believe the chance this man was taking.  Didn't he know it's courting season for alligators?  He's in that alligator's territory.  He's watching ONE alligator.   How many other alligators in the river are watching HIM???  His vision is limited by the camera in front of his eyes.  He doesn't know what's happening beyond this one alligator.   If this alligator should choose to react to this man's presence in HIS territory, can this man predict when that will happen and be able to anticipate with a FASTER reaction time? 

As I was wondering what is wrong with the people that I was seeing today, I turned back around to the other side of the bridge and lo and behold there were two more people down near the river's edge...right where I had previously seen an alligator rear up and do his courting routine to all the interested lady alligators.  The couple had arrived about 5 minutes after this "dance" and were not aware the alligator had been there but no doubt that alligator was aware that they were there.   I wondered what he thought of this couple's interference in HIS wooing of HIS ladyfriend..... Sure looked risky to me.

Did the Alligators Go to the Gym?

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Now that April is here, I was hoping it would be time for the alligators to be looking for love but as it was, not many were out of the river. I guess some still had beauty shop appointments or gym workouts to keep before they presented themselves as "available."  At least it gave an opportunity for the deer to come out of the woods by the bridge and graze a bit along the river.

Across the road from the Canopy Walk, I did see an alligator hanging out with some of Myakka's birds.  I never realized the alligator was there when I stopped to take pictures of the birds.

It wasn't until I was taking pictures that I noticed the alligator swimming in and among the birds.  There was plenty of fish to go around, so the birds didn't mind the interloper within their midst even if he was a bit devious.

The alligator would do a lazy slow roll with his mouth open and whatever fish happened to "accidentally" swim inside, he innocently swallowed.  Then he swam over to another section of the wetland to do the same maneuver.  I first worried the alligator might hurt the birds, but since he had the motherload of fish swimming into his mouth and keeping him preoccupied and satisfied, the birds were safe.  Maybe the birds had THEIR OWN plan..

Too bad that alligator didn't notice there was a love interest not too far away.  She looked as though she might have been interested if he would have just stopped eating and had come her way, but when I looked back, he was still splashing around and doing that rolling routine.  I guess love was not on his radar.

Speaking of splashing around...when I was at the weir, a roseate spoonbill was taking no chances on finding the bird of her dreams.  Getting her feathers light and fluffy was the first order of the day and it must take a lot of work because this girl was working it.

With the advent of spring and the heart turning to love, attracting the best of the best takes a lot of attention to detail and no feather was left un-fluffed or un-ruffled.  Dressing for success is this girl's mantra.

Too bad a turkey that I saw along the road didn't read that book.  Perhaps he wouldn't look as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.  With his head hanging low, making his way through one of Myakka's fields.  I couldn't help but think, "Wow, he looks like he's going to a job that he hates."

He needs to focus on what's right in his world.  Before those words were out of my mouth, that is exactly what he DID do.  Up ahead was the field of HIS dreams.  With a gobble of delight and a jaunty skip to his gait, off that turkey flew to his field of gold and whatever adventures awaited for that turkey is anyone's guess.

In the next few weeks, I imagine more gold will appear in these fields.  Spring has arrived to Myakka River State Park.  Grab a camera and get thee to the park!  Maybe by then, the alligators will be groomed and smiling.