I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.
Warning: The following scenes may be too intense for some viewers. They are intended for mature audiences only. Viewer discretion is advised…
This morning we saw an alligator near one of his usual spots but something immediately looked different. He had something in his mouth, some sort of animal. I don’t know whether he found it or caught it, but it was already dead and he could easily have been carrying it around the marsh for some time. He was holding it mostly under water at first and I couldn’t tell what he was having for breakfast. Eventually the alligator started lifting the animal up, thrashing it around, then throwing it back down into the water.
This went on for some time but I quickly realized the alligator had a raccoon. The gator seemed as surprised as I was and he actually didn’t appear to know exactly what to do with his catch. He wanted to eat it of course, but it’s too big to gulp right down, and alligators are not especially good chewers when it comes to larger birds or animals. They need to somehow tear off smaller bits so that was one reason why he was bashing it about and carrying it all over the place.
He swam over to a small bit of land and sat there with the raccoon for a while, even falling asleep at one point with the prey still grasped in his mouth. He tried smacking the raccoon into the ground several times in an attempt to shake loose some tasty bits.
After a while he swam across the marsh to the far back edge of the water with his catch which caught the attention of another alligator and a brief struggle and chase ensued. The by now very hungry gator ultimately swam back toward my side of the water where he once again sat still with his partially chewed up meal.
I realized that this could go on for some time and if the alligator can’t manage to eat most of his prize he will likely stash it somewhere and come back for it later. Of course in the meantime it could be found by some other alligator who will attempt to make his own meal of the by now marinated feast.
But once again…high drama out in the marsh!
When two alligators start going at each other, it kind of sets off a bit of a panic. It’s hard for anybody to remain calm and the best action is certainly to get out of the way and do it quickly.
This file shot from a while back demonstrates how one sudden aggressive move by these guys is all it takes to send a group of snowy egrets scrambling. The fact that all these snowys were hanging around in the close general vicinity of a couple of ornery gators is of course a separate issue. As usual, no one got hurt, however one might suggest they are asking for trouble. But then again, that’s snowys, always in the middle of the action.
While writing this I also realized this was my 1,000th post. A display of total pandemonium is not at all meant to describe my time doing a wildlife photo blog. Most of it in fact has been quite calm. But the roller coasted ride of my own life can occasionally find itself blending into the world of wildlife photography and life in the marsh. One minute things are quiet and serene, and in an instant things can erupt and immediately change everything.
But… that’s also the fun in it!
I saw another anhinga this morning at the edge of the marsh and I quickly noticed the distinctive ultramarine eye shadow look.
What this means is that this boy (yes it’s a male) is entering into breeding condition. He likely has a girlfriend stashed nearby which I will quite likely see later in the Spring.
Earlier this afternoon I was watching an anhinga fishing when he suddenly jumped up out of the water and onto a nearby stump with a fish stuck to his bill. The anhinga proceeded to pound and scrape the fish across the stump trying to get it off his bill so that he could gulp it down. The fish, of course, was not at all happy with how his day was shaping up and I strongly suspect he knew it would not end well.
After struggling for a couple of minutes, the anhinga finally swallowed his prize catch. Now that lunch was over the only thing left to do was climb to the top of the stump and triumphantly assume the wing drying pose!
This afternoon there were a couple of terns zipping around the salt marsh making me dizzy trying to follow them.
These tiny, super fast flyers are always a fun challenge to try tracking as they swoop and dive in search of their prey.
The terns almost look like miniature fighter jets as they blast their way around the marsh at hyper speeds.
Here are two of the four alligators I saw parked at the edge of the marsh pond this morning. They are out awaiting the warming trend in temperatures that we’re expecting to start today.
So far they have been a bit disappointed, it was cool and somewhat blustery out there, but things appear to be improving as the day moves along.
It’s not nice to fool the alligators with the weather forecast. If you promise them a warm sunny day, that’s what they expect!