As you must know, there was no Gator game this weekend ... so the boys and I went looking for a substitute.
Jr., his buddy Tyler, and I took the JEEP out to Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge to keep their Gator mojo alive. I had spent the day shin deep in muck rescuing tiny bluegills out of my drying pond and I was ready for a break. The boys had mostly been electronically entertained and I needed to get them into the REAL. So we went for a ride.
The refuge is 53,000 acres of river swamp, coastal marsh, and forest. It's only about 15 minutes from the Pure Florida homestead. We entered the refuge at about 4:00 pm and hadn't gone very far down one of the gravel roads when Tyler (the best wildlife spotter ever) spotted a big gator lying in a tiny puddle next to the road.
Here's the view over Jr.'s arm.
Jr. took this shot standing up in the topless JEEP. I told him to keep filming if the gator grabbed me as the photos would probably sell for a good price. (No sense in being fatherless and poor ...)
This section of the refuge is a large cypress and gum swamp and usually has pretty good water in it, but the recent dry weather has reduced that to isolated pockets and small ponds. There was decent water not far from here, so it's not like this gator was stranded. I think he had just chosen a good waterhole in which to set up an ambush. He never moved the entire time we were with him, but we didn't really give him any reason to do so. I didn't enter his "zone" and we were quiet as we watched him.
He may be lying in wait for the next turtle or armadillo that crosses the road and doesn't notice the "log". That would be a BIG mistake.
Usually, the roadside gators in the refuge are smaller. They are actually easier to spot in the winter when they are up sunning on ditchbanks and logs. This is the biggest one I've seen so close to the road.
Later on, we saw turkeys, blue herons, beautiful wildflowers, a little water moccasin, but no other gators. We would have missed this fella too if Tyler hadn't been scanning his side of the road with his hunter's eye.
Isn't good to know you own this place and that you are this gator's silent benefactor? Remember that when you grumble about your taxes ... you can still grumble of course. I do.
Even tough ol' Gators need a helping hand sometimes.