This story in the blog is a long one. I have been photographing
our back pond while it goes through the demanding months
of drying up. Watching the wildlife in this stressful competitive
time is like having the Discovery Channel on every day! So, if you
aren’t interested in pictures of birds and ‘gators, carry on to
another chapter in the blog and you’ll find stories about Clyde.
Florida has a dry season, which begins in April and ends with
the beginning of Hurricane Season in June. Spring is also the
mating season, so as the water dries up birds and animals
come from miles around for the water and to mate. During
this struggle for survival the strongest survive to pass their
gene pool on to the next generation.
For those birds and animals that have already mated and
have young, the pools of water contain large quantities
of struggling fish to eat, insuring the survival of the young.
our back pond from miles around to feast on the
all you can eat buffet of fish.
Although this dry season happens every year, this
year is one of the driest on record.
but when the Limpkin showed up, there was a territorial
dispute. In this image the Heron is going after the Limpkin.
tolerate any kind of aggressive behavior or suspicious
activity, so the behavior of the heron was enough
for the Limpkin to flee the scene.
As you can see in this photo, the pond is beginning to
get a very green scum on it. In fact, the pond is
looking almost florescent green!
Both the Wood Stork and Limpkin are endangered
species. The Limpkin is rarely seen.
The bird had been preening itself, so the
feathers are all puffed up
I never thought I’d see a Pelican here in the swamp!
This just isn’t the environment for a Pelican, so it is
a mystery as to exactly why it is here.
(the vultures with the red necks…
…mmmm don’t you think they should be called
Red Neck Vultures, especially since they are southern birds?)
Anyway…Turkey Vultures are rare in Florida, so it was
with great pleasure that we had several show up at the pond.
spreading their wings into the sun.
I love watching vultures. They are such social birds!
They are always interacting with each other, either
protecting each other or arguing…and oh!…how they love
the dead fish! Believe me, I’m glad they love the rotting
fish because it smells bad enough even
with the clean-up crew of vultures!
Isn’t it a wonder that they can fly with such delicate things
such as feathers?
vultures are beginning to crowd them out.
APRIL 27 2009
There’s too much yummy dead fish around
for them to go elsewhere!
fish out of the mud, while not getting eaten by the alligator
covering herself in mud.
However, I think I have finally understood what she may be
doing. At one end of the pond she has been using her tail to sweep the
mud aside, which causes a very muddy mess in the remaining water.
Then she dives down under the mud and comes up dragging
it onto the bank of the pond.
to get a lot shallower, so she is ‘digging’ the pond deeper. She needs
depth for her, her babies, and the fish (her food source) in order to
survive. She also wallows through the muddy pond from the shallow
areas into her deeper hole creating streams that keep the remaining
water headed toward her end of the pond.
Another reason I believe she bathes herself in mud is
to cool down. The water must be getting very warm,
but the mud deep under the water is still cool. Since ‘gators
can’t control their body temperature very well, that cool
mud must feel really good!
And…one more reason is to feed her young. It was
interesting to see her dive into the mud and come up
near her young. The babies immediately came toward
her and began ‘pecking’ away at the mud. I am guessing
that they were eating small critters in the mud that she
had brought up to them with the mud on her back.
In all the years we’ve been here I have never seen her
eat so much! It seems she is constantly eating fish…but
then, they are so easy to catch!
MAY 3 2009
For the most part, all the birds are done (except the
vultures). They have eaten what was easy, but now the
remaining fish are guarded jealously by the Ma ‘Gator.
The Ma ‘Gator is too hungry and agressive for the birds
to throw caution to the wind and eat from our green pond.
MAY 11 2009
Ma ‘Gator paces back and forth wallowing through the muddy water.
She reminds me of a caged animal…filled with the need for a better
environment and very aggressive about saving the one she is in for
her and her babies.
The pond has gotten so low that even the birds don’t come
around any more.
Clyde is so concerned for Ma ‘Gator and her babies that he
has become “Father Nature”. Every morning he runs the
hose into the pond for an hour and we watch as
Ma ‘Gator relaxes in a stream of fresh water…
all the noise was about. I looked out the window and saw all of
the baby ‘gators crawling out of the pond toward the woods and
anxiously looking in that direction.
the Ma ‘Gator out in the forest. She was chasing another
‘gator that was around 4 feet.
There just isn’t enough water, or food, to go around and so her aggression
is becoming extreme. I’ve never seen her this aggressive except when
protecting her nest. Right now she needs to protect her young from
getting eaten as well as provide food for them.
This kind of aggression is one of the reasons Clyde and I do not
venture out into the wilderness of the Everglades to photograph
during the dry time of the year. All animals are VERY territorial
right now, not only because of the lack of water and food, but it
is also mating season. It is at this time of the year that we enjoy
being out in the Ten Thousand Islands in our boat.
turned and headed out of the forest and back toward the pond
her way through the mud and back into the pond.
her young joined her with happy greetings
The next morning I was headed out to grocery shop. I jumped into
our VW bug, which was parked under the car port, and backed out.
As I was backing out, I looked over my shoulder to see where
I was going, then turned around, looking forward, and saw that
I had just backed out over a 4 foot ‘gator! I didn’t run over
him because he was length-wise under the car, never the less,
it was a great shock to me that a ‘gator had taken cool
refuge under our car! I guess Ma ‘Gator didn’t scare him too
far away! And as for us…we now bend over and look under
the car before we go near it!
I wait all winter for the first rain and
the joyous choral-society of frogs singing a full blown
symphony of the halleluiah chorus!
thunder storms roll across the Everglades
THE FRONT POND
The front pond also has a radical change as
it moves from the wet season to the dry season
and back to the wet season…