31 thoughts on “Mother’s Day on the Bayou

    1. This one is somewhat accustomed to humans, so I was more cautious than terrified. Still, it’s quite an experience to find a critter like this lounging around. Thanks so much for visiting, and for commenting.

        1. Given the number of gators that are roaming the freeways, swimming pools, and backyards right now, we could use a little more stability. That study was interesting: not least for the fact that people are studying such things, with such creative methods.

          1. In the Brazos park, the park rangers watch the nests/known mom gators and sometimes move the babies if the nest is too far from the water as in the flood waters recedes after the nest was built or sometimes is a very aggressive parent is in the area. (They must do it very very carefully?)

    1. Oh, I’m careful. I’ve scared up a couple that were sunbathing, but as long as you stay out of the water and away from the edge it’s pretty safe. That’s what they tell me, anyway.

      I’ve got a photo of a sweet-faced, yellow-bellied water snake to share some day, but I think spacing out the reptile photos probably is a good idea. I’m glad you could tolerate these photos, despite your dislike for the critters.

        1. I really do appreciate your concern, Yvonne. But, honestly? I suspect I’m in more danger from the hordes on the roads who are texting and emailing while they’re driving — not to mention the ones who are texting, emailing, watching their favorite tv show, and balancing breakfast, all at the same time. I’ll keep my eyes open.

  1. As low on the totem pole of smarts as gators are, and as lackadaisical as reptile parents tend to be, gator mothers not only guard the nest but carry the hatchlings from the nest to the water in her mouth. They must be doing something right. Crocodilians have been around for 83 some odd million years.

    It’s important to remember when you’re around gators (1) they swim much faster than we do, (2) they can hold their breath for hours, and (3) the muscles that open their jaws are a lot weaker than the ones that close them.

    1. That’s why duct tape’s such an effective way of keeping those impressive mouths shut. Every now and then one gets pulled out of a marina, and the guys always wrap its snout with duct tape while waiting for Parks and Wildlife to show up. As for fast, they can hit the water from the bank in a flash, too. Most of the time, the only reason I know one’s around is that big ker-sploosh! that says, “Yes, I was here, but now I’m not.”

      It really it wonderful fun to watch the babies — and to watch the kids at the Brazoria WR Discovery Center who get to hold one. Pure awe, let me tell you.

  2. Seriously?!? Those are quite the gator shots! Yes, space out the reptiles, keep safe, and keep on bringing your camera – I’ve never seen the backpack bit before.

    1. Alligators fascinate me. Every now and then one will pop up in a marina where I’m working. There’s nothing quite like seeing this hanging around your swim platform to liven up a morning.

      The babies can be hard to photograph. They tend to hide among aquatic plants, for one thing, and you can’t always walk around them to get a good angle, like you can with a plant. I hope I can find more this year, and get some better photos.

      And here’s your tip for the day: to estimate an alligator’s length, convert the distance in inches
      from the tip of the nose to the eye ridge into feet.

      You’re welcome.

      1. No, I wouldn’t want to be surprised by those eyes and snouts. Once I was surprised by one on land, on St. Simon’s Island, GA. I was prowling around in an area that was off the beaten path all by myself, looking at birds. There was a small pond, a marsh, a dirt road….you know the deal! Luckily the alligator left first. I’d always seen them in more tame circumstances before then so it was startling. I found a rarity for Georgia that day, a Groove-billed Ani – very exciting! I think it was 1977 or something like that – ages ago. Thank you for the handy tip which I will sue dialy here in the Pacific northwest. :-)
        I get you about not being able to choose your angle but I bet you’ll get luckier one of these days, and these are good anyway.

  3. Mercy, I hope you took these from a nice, safe distance!! Gators aren’t my favorite animal — far from it when you consider that they can eat a small dog!!

    1. They certainly can eat small dogs — or cats, or kids, or calves. All of the parks around here have signs about keeping pets on leashes. A fisherman I know watched one take a heron the other day. One minute the bird was there, the next, it was nothing but a few feathers on the water.

      They were on the endangered species list for a time, but they were taken off around 1985, and now hunting them is allowed — although you have to have a tag, and it’s highly regulated. Clearly, they’re no longer on the edge of extinction, and they pop up everywhere. Of course, we live on landed threaded through with bayous, estuaries, and creeks, so it makes sense. It’s prime gator territory.

      1. The Gulfport house is on a bayou, too, so I know what you mean. I never let Dallas go near the water there … never! I tease about him being a tad overweight, but I suspect a hungry gator would find him a delightfully tasty dinner!

    1. It was fascinating to watch Mama as I moved around. She didn’t flick an eye as long as I moved back and forth, but if I took one step toward her, one eye opened. That was enough for me — I moved away, by two or three steps. The mothers really are attentive, though, and take good care of those babies for a few months to a year. Needless to say, the babies are fairly safe with mom around!

  4. Gosh, I can imagine how exciting it must be getting that close to such a fantastic creature. You are made of stern stuff! I love the babies, I’ve never seen any, just gators from a distance.xxx

    1. There are a few I’ve seen that have sent me the other direction, lickety-split. Sometimes, even across a road doesn’t feel quite far enough. But this one has been around a long time, and probably senses that no one’s going to do her harm — or her babies. I didn’t know until very recently that when the babies hatch, they call to their mother, and she comes, opens the nest, and carries them to the water in her mouth. Sometimes, they have so many hatchlings they have to make multiple trips — but what a ride for the babies.

    1. And the babies stay with the mothers for a year or more. It’s quite amazing, really. The other thing I didn’t realize until recently is that the mothers don’t stay “on” the nests. They’re built in such a way that they provide the needed warmth for incubation. But when hatching time arrives, the little gators begin vocalizing, both to call their mother to open the nest, and to coordinate the time of their hatch, so everyone shows up at the same time. Just amazing.

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