Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gator Stories?

Got your back!
We paid another visit to the H.P. Williams Wayside Park this week, about 30 miles down the road on highway 41, the REAL alligator alley, towards Everglades City...on duty was a volunteer who works for the National Park Services. This is a great park where you can see alligators from the safe viewing position of a boardwalk, providing it's a warm, sunny day. The gaters are very close to the boardwalk, but there's a fence. We were told that the gators can run very fast, faster than a dog, up to 30 m.p.h. We were also told that they can raise up on their legs and really get moving...the volunteer told us two true stories about someone fishing off the bank at the park, and a gator chased him and the fish he caught all the way up to his truck..he had to jump in the back to get away from the alligator. Then he told us the story about a woman who was standing on the bank concentrating so hard on taking a photo of a gator swimming towards her that she just kept focusing and taking photos until the gator was just a few feet from her. The volunteer was driving down the road and saw the gator heading straight towards her...he jumped out of his truck and yelled at her to get away....he cautioned that you should never get closer than 40 feet to a gator....I don't know if that was said for my benefit as I just had come back from an opened gate that led straight to the bank where two big gators were sunning themselves a few feet below the bank and I was doing the dumb tourist thing, taking photos. The gators were just a few yards away from me, their heads pointed towards the canal and not towards me, there was no fence. I guess it's his job to keep the tourists away from the gators and the gators away from the tourists. He's seen people throw rocks at them to get them to move and other dumb taking photos too close....
Who's watching whom?
After researching this topic a bit, I have come to the conclusion, that gators belly crawl, and crocodiles get up on their legs more, and from what I've read, alligators can NOT run as fast as a dog or as fast as 35 m.p.h. which what a couple of sources on the internet and a local one say..also it's an old wive's tale that if you run zig zag, you can outrun one.....not that I want to find out...(Well, THAT'S a relief! says E.) Let's just say alligators are faster than you think and don't be stupid like I was and try to get too close! End of lecture!

We saw LOTS of great birds at the park as well...on the way back, we headed to the welcome center by Everglades City where there are manatees...Eldy saw two manatees surface together and dive back down together...where was I? watching a gator head towards some fishermen on the bank nearby...missed another great photo! Phooey! Guess I had my fill of gator scare tactics today...I even warned the guys fishing, "HEY, FELLAS--gator heading your way.." Yeah, yeah, lady...we big deal to them...they kept right on fishing, and the gator kept right on swimming past them....

We REALLY enjoyed our visit to the park today...very interesting conversations, tips and stories of where to go birding, where to drive for short trips to see more nature, tips from fellow photographers, everybody on the boardwalk today had something to guy today had a HUGE camera lens and had captured a photo of an alligator chomping down on an egret in his mouth...he missed the initial grab but got the shot shortly after...taken in this very same area awhile back, he showed it to us on his camera....guess a couple of pythons have been spotted on the road going past the park as well...python have no predators so they are fast becoming an invasive species in the Everglades. Another story was told that they found a pregnant female with 59 fertile eggs inside it...ugh! People are allowed to hunt pythons down here, they are becoming such a problem....We could have stayed on the boardwalk for a couple more hours, but it was getting late and time to get back won't be long before we leave for Texas...a couple more days in beautiful Naples and then we will be doing the Willie Nelson thing...."on the road again...can't wait to get back on the road again...."

1 comment:

  1. You wouldn't have to warn me twice about getting too close to gators or pythons. I can enjoy looking at pictures of them taken by other people!