No trip to Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas, Florida would be complete without an Alligator or two. They have some big ones there, and they are in the habit of hauling out at the water’s edge to warm up in the sun. On occasion they even get right up on the pathways. My rule is “never get closer to a gator than twice the length of its body” and don’t get close at all if you can help it. This shot was taken at 212mm equivalent from about 15 feet away…which was a little closer than I was completely comfortable with, but the alligators never even blinked as I edged by on the path above it. The worst part was that there was a Little Bittern in the reeds behind it, and I could not get a good shot of the bird without getting closer to the Alligator…such is life at Orlando Wetlands Park. Sony RX10iv at 212mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. 1/800th @ f4 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.
I suppose it is part of our nature to find babies cute…and not only the babies of our own species. This appears to be a nursery pile of very young Alligators. There were more than 30 in a short stretch of channel along West Road in the Shark Valley of Everglades National Park…too many to be single clutch. There were also two adolescent gators, perhaps 3 years old (though there is no safe way to judge the age of an alligator), too young, I would think, to have babies of their own, apparently on-guard…and I assume a couple of larger females in the immediate area in case of attack, though I did not see them. The Alligator is not vulnerable to predication…except at this age, when even an ambitious Great Blue Heron might do for and unprotected hatchling. This is also the age when they are taken for the pet trade, though I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind buying an animal that they know will grow to 2 feet long at one year, and will totally out-grow any cuteness and reach 6 feet long in six.
Sony HX400V at 1200mm equivalent field of view. Shutter preferred. 1/1250th @ ISO 2000 @ f6.3. the high shutter speed was necessary, as I had to hand hold this above my head, using the flip out LCD, to get over the foreground grasses and brush. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.
No no no! Not that kind of “clutch”. We are not talking fashion here. This is a pile of newly hatched Alligators. Called a “clutch”. Roy Halpin and I befriended a family from Germany who were walking the west road at Shark Valley. They were not photographers and they were moving much faster than we were, so when they looped back, they alerted us to this waiting for us up the road. We kept a sharp eye out. It was much further than we expected and we had already picked our turn around spot when we finally found it. 🙂 Worth the wait.
Sony HX400V at 170mm equivalent field of view. Shutter preferred. 1/640th @ ISO 200 @ f4.5. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.