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.

Vultures Grooming a King?

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Vultures Grooming a King?

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

When you go to Myakka River State Park, the posted speed limit signs are there for a reason.  Around the bridge, the posted speed is 5 mph.  Because this is one of the hot spots for viewing Myakka's wildlife, young visitors might dash from one side of the bridge to the other in hopes of counting as many alligators as possible.

Birders wielding binoculars may also be found on the bridge hoping to spot when the Great Blue Heron's little ones might peek above the nest for the first time and take a gander at what is a'waitin'.

Most of the posted speed in the park is 25 mph but if you intend to catch a glimpse of the wildlife, it's best to go a little slower.  At 25 mph, it's not likely you would have spotted a lone turkey strutting his stuff as he looked around for the love of his life.  You might also have missed the "totem pole" created by one of Myakka's more artistic vultures as he greeted all who were entering his domain.

I was certainly glad I spotted both of them.  Instead of going in the direction of the birdwalk, I decided to see what was happening at the weir and I was glad I did.  It was ALLIGATOR CITY at the weir and their hosts were the VULTURES!  I didn't know what was happening, but it must have been important for each alligator seemed to have its own personal grouping of vultures as attendants.  Were they choosing the “King of the River" I wondered?

One vulture seemed to be intent upon making his alligator The Most Attractive as he pecked away at any loose dirt that may have marred the appearance of his friend and affected his chances for the ascendency to the throne.

Another vulture was working on his alligator having The Most Buff Body.  When I saw them, the vulture and an egret were putting the alligator through his paces by having him vigorously swim up and down the channel.  Choosing a king based upon strength and stamina were at the core of their campaign.

Not to be outdone, another macho aficionado was trying to encourage his alligator to race after some limpkins who were grazing along the shoreline.  "Prove your worth" was this vulture's mantra.  Unless the alligator had mastered the art of running with his eyes closed, he didn't look as though any vigorous sprinting was to be in his future.  Perhaps he believed the race did not belong to the swiftest but to he who was the most rested.

After watching them for several minutes, I couldn't help but think that the vultures sure had their work cut out for them with this crew.   From what I saw, these alligators had no interest in anything but a peaceful blissful slumber.

It sure would be interesting to see what happens when night falls.  Maybe one of them WAS listening.

Spring Has Sprung at Myakka

Now that the first day of spring has arrived, some of the Myakka residents can't help but break out in song.

Once the fields are bedecked in green and no longer covered in water, turkeys can be found scouring the meadows

or sashaying through the woods scratching up any tidbits that might have been left behind.

Old friends can be found gathering at the river to once more talk about their glory days,

while some young'uns hide, hoping their long-winded distant uncle will share his glory days with someone else.

Most, however, feel the excitement that spring brings.  Love is in the air and you can never look too good.

Competition is keen and figuring out what will win the heart of your soulmate is on many a mind. 

Since it's early in the courting season, there's plenty of time to play the field,

and plenty of time to welcome spring whether within a group or by oneself.

The turkeys were out enjoying the day.  Were you?

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias