Tag Archives: Alligator

Slow Bird Day at Donnelley

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.

Snowy Egret on Pylon
Snowy Egret on Pylon

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.

The Spoonie Tree
The Spoonie Tree with Anhinga and Great Egret

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.

The Spoonie Tree
The Spoonie Tree with Cormorant and Roseate Spoonbills, Alligators lounging below

Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, SC
First two images: 6/18/2019
Third image: 4/18/2019

Alligator on a Mission

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.

Alligator Swimming in Pond
Alligator Swimming in 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.

Alligator Swimming in Pond
Alligator Swimming in Pond

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.

Alligator Swimming in Pond
Alligator Swimming in Pond, Blue Hydrangeas reflecting in the water

 

Alligator Coming Up, Maybe Not

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.

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

He made a huge effort, flailing his front and back legs around.

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

I can do it!

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

Almost there, just need to get that back leg a little higher!

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

And then he lost his grip.

Alligator Falling Off Ramp
Alligator Falling Off Ramp

Notice that the bigger Alligator never moved during all this action.

Alligator Falling Off Ramp
Alligator Falling Off Ramp

Down, down, down into the water he went.

Alligator Falling Off Ramp
Alligator Falling Off Ramp

Alligator Coming Up

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.

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

He stayed in that spot for longer than I expected.

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

But then he thought better of it as the larger Alligator heaved up over the side with a gargantuan effort.

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

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.

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

Made it!

The big guy made it and the little one moved a few more inches away.

Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp
Alligator Climbing Onto Ramp

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.

Alligator Sliding Into the Pond

When I saw the big Alligator moving I was ready for the Spoonbills to fly or the Alligator on the right to react. Anything.

Alligator and Spoonbills
Alligator and Spoonbills

No, this time the Alligator slid into the water without any fanfare; none of the other creatures cared at all.

Alligator and Spoonbills
Alligator and Spoonbills

Evidently the big guy didn’t have any cares either, and just floated in place once he cleared the bank.

Alligator and Spoonbills
Alligator and Spoonbills

Great Egret Over Pond and Reptiles

A few Great Egrets were swooping over the pond as they vied for mates or nesting spots in the nearby trees.

Great Egret Flying Over Alligators, Turtles Great Egret Flying Over Alligators, Turtles

Some were gathering sticks for their nests but they were easily distracted when another Great Egret invaded their space.

Great Egret Flying Over Turtle Great Egret Flying Over Turtle

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.

Great Egret Flying Over Alligators, Turtles Great Egret Flying Over Alligator and Turtles

Winter Lounging

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.

Alligator and Turtles
Alligator and Turtles

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.

Sleeping Alligator
Sleeping Alligator at side of walking trail