This is one of the short white bridges at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, as opposed to the “Long White Bridge” where tourists and brides pose for photographs. Around the corner on the same pond and much less visited. Except by the wildlife.
A Snowy Egret was striking a pose on a pylon overlooking a full creek. This was about the only wading bird activity I saw on this trip.
The water was very high on both sides of the dike leaving the “Spoony Tree” standing in water. The pond level was too high for wading birds to feed.
For comparison here is the tree a couple months earlier when there were some Spoonbills around and a few Alligators lounged in the shallow water. The dirt around the roots has washed away and the tree appears dead. It won’t be a surprise to find out this tree has fallen over.
Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, SC
First two images: 6/18/2019
Third image: 4/18/2019
While I was watching the Bard Owl of yesterday’s post an Alligator thrashed around at the edge of the pond then swam very deliberately out to the middle of the pond.
He negotiated around a few Cypress knees, made a U-turn and stopped directly underneath the owl, that was on a branch about 20 feet (6 meters) above the water.
If he was hoping the Barred Owl would swoop down he was disappointed. The Owl was very aware of the Alligator’s presence. After ten or fifteen minutes the Alligator swam back where he came from, climbed out of the water and disappeared.
Surrounded by yellow iris and calla lilies a Great Blue Heron stalked his way across the edge of a pond.
Look closely at the edge of the water on the right hand side in the second image and you’ll see he wasn’t alone: a small Alligator was patrolling the water.
After the bigger fellow from my post Alligator Coming Up got settled I turned my head to watch an Egret and the little gator bailed off into the water. I watched him swim around the ramp and then he took at turn at climbing up.
He made a huge effort, flailing his front and back legs around.
I can do it!
Almost there, just need to get that back leg a little higher!
And then he lost his grip.
Notice that the bigger Alligator never moved during all this action.
Down, down, down into the water he went.
Many nature areas provide ramps for the Alligators to get get out of the water and sun themselves. The result is safe, fascinating viewing for visitors and keeps some of the Alligators out of the areas where said visitors might be walking. Usually the low end of the ramp is in the water but the pond has been lowered for maintenance so access to this ramp required some work.
A younger Alligator was laying there minding his own business and didn’t seem aware he was about to have company.
He stayed in that spot for longer than I expected.
But then he thought better of it as the larger Alligator heaved up over the side with a gargantuan effort.
For a moment I thought the big one was going to flip back into the water. Alligators are proportionally tail so even with his front legs on the platform he had a ways to go.
The big guy made it and the little one moved a few more inches away.
The larger Alligator is probably 4 to 5 years old. He is loosing the yellowish stripes that younger ones have to help with camouflage. When they get to be this age and size they are no longer prey to other animals.
Or… Is This My Best Side?
The dike bank curves a bit so I was able to get views from a couple of angles.
And the head shot, with just a bit of tooth showing.
When I saw the big Alligator moving I was ready for the Spoonbills to fly or the Alligator on the right to react. Anything.
No, this time the Alligator slid into the water without any fanfare; none of the other creatures cared at all.
Evidently the big guy didn’t have any cares either, and just floated in place once he cleared the bank.
A few Great Egrets were swooping over the pond as they vied for mates or nesting spots in the nearby trees.
Some were gathering sticks for their nests but they were easily distracted when another Great Egret invaded their space.
Occasionally I’ve seen a large Alligator snap at a bird flying overhead without making contact, but these smallish Alligators and turtles ignored the aerial displays going on above them.
Even though it is winter, with some nights down to and below freezing temperatures, many Alligators are still out and about during the day around the swamp.
Supposedly they don’t eat it when it is cold, their metabolism slowing in a process called brumation.
I still want to keep my distance.