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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.

THE SEASONAL ART OF A MYAKKA LANDSCAPE

The Seasonal Art of a Myakka Landscape

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

It's never predictable what you might see at MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK.  The fields might be in flowers.

Or they might be flooded.

Or they could be in transition as they are now.

The fields and trails could be One with the Myakka River, or they too could be readying themselves for a rebirth.

Along the road you may be greeted with a wet grassland or a dry one.

But whatever time of the year you may go to the park, you're bound to notice its abundance of wildlife and its engaging conversationalists.

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Why not check it out?  But do remember...whatever you expect to see, you might not see but whatever you DO see can still be worthy of a picture or two.

Life is Good At Myakka

Life is Good At Myakka

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Because the Myakka River has gone down significantly, I was wondering how MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK looked and whether the alligators were out and about.  I first checked out my favorite trail since that's where I see the biggest alligators.  The woods were relatively dry and the trail was pretty clear in the beginning.

Up ahead I could see a huge flock of roseate spoonbills hanging out on the other side of the river.  Because I wanted to get some closer shots of them, I continued down the path trying to avoid all the debris that seemed to have found its way into the woods.  Eventually the trail was blocked by some tree limbs that had cracked off a nearby tree.

Because I wanted a better shot of the birds, off the trail I went and into the poison ivy I stepped.  "I better get a really nice shot," I thought as I gingerly stepped over one plant to find myself next to another.  As I made my way back to the trail, up ahead I could hear a bird screeching out my arrival to his buddies.  Fortunately the spoonbills stayed and I was able to get off a few shots.

I still wasn't close enough to get the shot I wanted.  On I continued as my noisy buddy continued to herald my arrival by his incessant screeching.  "If I could only get a little closer..." I thought.  "If that bird would only shut up...."  Just then I noticed why he had been screeching.  He wasn't warning the spoonbills.  He was warning the two alligators who were hanging out on MY side of the river.

Because they were too near the shoreline, I ceded the territory to them and headed back.  I figured I would find something else to photograph.  It wasn't too long before I noticed that some alligators had surfaced and a few had made their way to the opposite side of the river.  There they were enjoying the sun and the gentle breezes.  One was particularly photogenic so I snapped away....

I next decided to drive down the main road of the park to check out how the fields were looking.  It was amazing to see the change.  The water had receded and mud or dirt lay in its stead.

Because the park was going through its metamorphoses from wet to dry, the deer were there to nibble on the emerging young grasses.

Since they looked as though they needed to graze in peace, I left them and drove a little bit further along the road.  To my amazement, I encountered an alligator slumbering right beside the road.  He seemed to be at peace with the world as he hugged the bank and exhibited his dreamy "life is good" look that I sometimes see on Myakka's alligators.

Life MUST be pretty good for these alligators because this alligator had nothing on his plate except sleep and an occasional happy smile.

Is It So Heavy That It Can't Be Carried Home?

guest post by Nancy Dobias

Sometimes I wonder what others see when they go to Myakka River State Park.  So often for me, I see a landscape of gorgeous scenery, of wondrous colors and textures, a picture that an artist could have painted.  I may see that pretty picture along the river....

I may see it in the wetlands....

Nothing ever stays the same.  The landscape is ever changing.  The beauty of golden fields might be replaced by the wonder of delicate pink flowers reaching up out of the marshes....and no matter what it is, it is still a thing of beauty.

Even one of Myakka's huge trees, fallen victim to the raw power of Mother Nature, could still grace the canvas of a artist and perhaps still be chosen to hang on a wall in someone's home....

So, what is it that other people see when they decide to spend a day in the GREAT OUTDOORS?  Why is it that some visitors to the park see it as their own personal trash dump?  For those who want to cast a net to catch bait fish or whatever they do with this net, why can't they take it home with them? 

For those who feel compelled to drink along the trails or river, why is it so difficult to haul out the EMPTY cans or bottles?  Weren't they heavier when they were brought into the park?

What is it that they see that others don't see when they make that decision to leave their garbage in the woods?

I bet the fawns and all the wildlife of Myakka would like the answer to that one.   I know I would!