Sunday, March 28, 2010

In The Tropics, Things Are Stirring !

Today was a gee-elle-orious day in Buttonwood Bay, Sebring, Florida and I'm adding those geographical details because there are 2 other Buttonwood Bays near here, relatively speaking, and I'd not want to give the impression that I'm in one of them.

As one is in Key Largo and the other is in Belize. I guess we're the boring one of the trio.

Nevermind. I bet they don't have bocce ball . Hah !

With the arrival of the hot, sunny weather on which Florida builds it reputation and financial stability, the park is finally showing signs of regrowth after the awful winter weeks since Christmas when the temps dropped to freezing on many nights. The tropical vegetation and orange groves didn't like that one little bit and most went all 'withery' and then went belly up, as we'd say back in Yorkshire.

Now the palm tree fronds are green, the oranges are orangy and the critters that have been absent most of the winter have reappeared. We were out on a golf cart ride this afternoon and going along Swan Drive, I had to swerve violently to avoid running over a large snake which, if anything, seemed even more terrified than I was at the time. As it was almost squished flat by our golf cart, that was fair enough.

How did I not see it earlier, I hear you ask.

"How did you not see it earlier ?"

See, I knew you'd ask !

Well it was close to the grass verge and at first I thought it was a squiggly crack in the road. Then it moved like a sidewinder on steroids and gave me quite a turn. A pronounced turn to the left, as it happened, and with all the skill of a slightly older Jensen Button, I only just avoided it.

Further along we came to the lake and saw a small gator at the water's edge, warming itself in the hot afternoon sun. We went on down the canal path and spotted another, much larger, gator casually floating along, watching out for any tasty stray poodles, shitzus and grandchildren.

Back at the house I fixed a sandwich, got a cold pop out of the fridge and, grabbing my camera, zoom lens and monopod, headed back to where the smaller gator had been. It had moved a few yards but was now almost on dry land and was just about comatose in the hot sunshine.

As such, it allowed me to get very close to it and I didn't even have to use all of the 200mm of the zoom lens to get its head filling the frame. It was that fact that made me suddenly realise that I was maybe a bit too close and so I backed off and let the lens do the work !

While I was taking these photos, a pure white bird appeared in my view and was slowly wading along the edge of the lake, stirring up the silt to flush out food. As it got closer to the motionless gator, my mind went to all those nature programs I'd watched where crocs almost climb up a steep bank to maul careless and, quite frankly, stupid wildebeest. I felt like a budding Attenborough as I waited for the carnage that would occur when the bird waded into the range of the gator.

Luckily for the bird but sadly for this intrepid cameraman, nothing of the sort took place. The bird continued wading and the gator continued........well, doing sod all. It did give the gator a few looks in passing but I guess it instinctively knew there was no danger.

I'm glad, as it was, and still is, a pretty bird.

Then along came a resident who clearly didn't think the rules regarding the non feeding of animals applied to her. She rolled up in her cart, opened a large bag of peanuts and within seconds, was surrounded by dozens of squirrels. I told her that feeding squirrels wasn't allowed by park rule and there were signs all over the place stating that very rule. She informed me that she'd always fed the squirrels and so I guess that made it ok in her mind !

I made no attempt to hide the fact that I was photographing her feeding the squirrels and so she drove away, only to return a while later when she thought I'd left. She left again and shortly after that, so did I.

I know it's not right to feed these and other animals for many reasons and one of those is that they become almost tame and will come right up to you. This might only be a slight nuisance when it's a squirrel but I can tell you it's no joke when a gator tries it !

At one point I almost felt sorry for a squirrel that had obviously been used to getting more than one peanut from this woman and now looked like a restaurant customer who had been promised a nice meal and was wondering what the hell was keeping the waiter from delivering it.

And so ends this tale from the river bank.....or lake bank I suppose. I left the bird, the gator and the squirrels to get on with their lives, safe in the knowledge that I would never want to eat any of them. Well I couldn't, could I ?

I mean, I was having salmon for supper !


rhymeswithplague said...

Great nature photos! When we moved to Boca Raton years ago I heard tell of two children swimming in a canal with a dog between them, and an alligator swam up and ate the dog, ignoring the children.

If it isn't true, it should be.

Just don't get too close.

Daphne said...

I do hate it when people say "Well I always do this" as though that makes it okay. I love feeding animals but in a place like BB it isn't a good idea of course! Perhaps the notices should read "Anyone found feeding the squirrels will themselves be fed - to the alligators." After the alligators have scoffed a couple of residents, I think the rest would learn quite fast. Love the photos!

Jay said...

Oooh, lovely nature pictures - but you forgot the snake! I wanna see the snake!!

Did you know that squirrels carry bubonic plague, by the way? Just sayin' ...

Most Recent Awards

Most Recent Awards