What it is ain't exactly clear...
[but soon will be, read on]
[but soon will be, read on]
I think it's time we stop, Bud, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's going down...
Like Buffalo Springfield's recording, there soon WAS something happening here. But wait...
It started out hot and sultry. The sky once again promised no rain.
As Bud and I drove to the islands along the park highway, we most always spot white tailed hawks and an occasional caracara. We were hoping there'd be some relief to the oppressive heat wave Tuesday. Didn't happen. But we remained at the birding centers for a while before returning back home to the continual hum of the air conditioner. Anyway, our first stop was Charlie's Pasture North Nature Preserve. We opted to not do too much walking since the temp with factored-in heat index was already hovering around the century mark. We sat under the cover of the cotillion and viewed the lake activity. White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbills were off in the far corners, feeding. The slight breeze in the shaded area was nice. I'd much prefer being outdoors in the sea air, so we lingered there a while longer. Of course while Bud was scouting through the binoculars, I was taking photos!
Reflection of the white ibis on the pond
Hot morning temperatures wizened us up a bit and we moved on the 2nd and last stop for the day. Near the boardwalk, off the beaten path, I spotted this turtle. I thought its reflection was clear enough to show its underside.
At the opening of the reed grass-lined walkway, the water view opens up to the bird activity and wildlife. The usual birds, but very few, were noted. I say very few because of the numbers ...there were plenty of different species of course, but two or three of each...definitely less than a dozen, compared to the hundreds during migration seasons. Terns, cormorants, a few ducks are once again appearing, stilts, tri-colored herons, and great blue herons, snowy egrets and great egrets, sandpipers, moorhens, seagulls, one green heron, grackles along with sandpipers and plovers far off in the distance. And ONE LONE alligator just a couple of feet from the wooden railings. The alligator was quiet; very docile. I walked to the end of the boardwalk in hopes of seeing the reported Least Bittern hidden somewhere in the cattails, nope. Turned around, met Bud halfway. Behind us, the snoozing alligator! Suddenly, a ruckus. Swishing water, grunting, then silence. Seconds later, the same explosive distraction. "Stop! What's that sound?"
The alligator was on the hunt, directly behind us!!!
The 'gator's head disappeared in the murky, muddy, water. Only to resurface. Coming up with its saber like teeth showing; mouth agape. Only then....
Its jaws snapped closed!
The sound of crunching was heard. Likened to a massive tree branch splitting, cracking and falling to the ground!! Trust me, the force of its jaws could crush the bones of a human. It's one sound that you don't soon forget! Snapping, opening, snapping, crunching of the skeletal remains of its catch with their powerful jaws generating up to 3,700 pounds per square inch [1678.29kg] with each bite... Then, the alligator rolled its torso, over and over, sideways and back again. Up came the head. This time covered in slimy, dark mud from the pond's floor. Within just a minute or less, the meal [sorry to say it was a turtle] was consumed ... then, a silent stupor...digestive sleep was all that was remaining in the stillness and shock of our witnessing this. Creating awe, fear and a whole new respect for its prowess and strength.
ps...the photo of Bud in the top, fence image, he is wearing a sweat shirt---this photo was taken in early Spring.