Sunday, March 4, 2012

Life & Death at the Wetlands (contains graphic material)


If you visit the wetlands around dinner time, chances are you may not be the only one with a grumbling stomach. This is also the time when the American Alligators like to eat. You will notice the majority of the Coots and Ducks all gathered on the shore as they also know what time it is. Being opportunistic feeders, Alligators regularly consume Coots and ducks due to the abundant numbers of them at the wetlands.

Without having to move a foot, as I watched the new lives of the Great Blue Heron chicks unfold, I also observed of the end of a life of an American Coot. An alligator happened to bring its dinner ashore where a group of us were standing watching the chicks. Turned out consuming the Coot was going to be a lot of work for this gator, for more reasons than one.


The gator happened to catch a Coot that was much larger than what it was able to swallow. Gators will usually drowned their prey then bring it to the shore to swallow it. Alligators typically swallow their prey whole.



The alligator turned the bird in an attempt to swallow it head first.


The gator was still unable to swallow the prey after several attempts. The gator took frequent breaks, where it was seen breathing hard from the effort it took to try and consume its meal. The gator then tried to reduce the size of the prey. I have never seen this process at such a close distance.


The Gator twisted, flipped, and slammed its prey trying to remove pieces. The Gator will usually eat the pieces it removes, but this Gator left the pieces aside as it was more interested in the body of the bird.




The gator continued to struggle; he worked and rested, and worked and rested for a long period of time. That's when things got even more interesting.


A second, much smaller gator with a very BIG attitude showed up. He walked right up to the larger gator with the intent to steal its meal. The larger gator jumped in the water with its prey, scaring off the smaller gator. The larger gator returned a few minutes later and continued to work; it got really close to getting the Coot down.



But the delinquent, this time with a little more stealth, was back. He got a bit closer this time, but the larger gator took off again. The smaller gator then decided to just eat the leftovers.




44 comments:

  1. Wow, these are fabulous, Tammy! I love these photos! I know some people will probably be upset about the coot and hate the gator, but this is nature and the cycle of life. We don't need to hug every tree and interfere in the natural process.

    I think it's awesome you were able to document this and your photos are excellent, as usual! Great job!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Brian! You definitely can't hate the gator; the Bald Eagles and CaraCara also eat the Coots.

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  2. Wowee, what amazing photographs you've taken. It's superb. Bad for the Coot, but, that's nature.

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  3. fabulous series! so interesting to watch him flip and hurl that carcass around!

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    1. It was interesting, although, I did think once or twice maybe I can take the pictures with my eyes closed, haha.

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  4. Very nice pictures on the Alligator and intressting reading Tammy.
    Greetings / Kenny

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and for your comments Kenny!

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  5. A great series of the real world, Tammy, to eat or be eaten that's the question. What about the heron chicks, are the still fine ?

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    1. Lorents, I believe the chicks are well. I went by on Saturday and Sunday, both midday, and they were resting. I will check on them again soon.

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  6. Hi Tammy!
    What a stunning serie and interesting reading about the gator. Great capture!
    Greetings from sweden
    /Ingemar

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  7. Lovely series Tammy. I assume there are no fences between you and the gators, brave girl!

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    1. Thanks Marc! There are no fences, but the wetlands are a very popular place for people to walk.

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  8. Great images... Impresionantes!!!... Congratulations!!!...

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    1. Thank you for your comments Ana!

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  9. Wow, great images. Thank you for sharing. I am going to be in the Ft. Lauderdale area in 2 weeks. Any suggested locations I should try to photograph mid March?

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  10. Eine klasse Fotoserie sehr interessante Bilder.

    Gruß
    Noke

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  11. Great series this, life is cruel for sure !

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  12. WOW.....AMAZING pictures.....

    look out Tammy, they are very very dangerous
    but you know that.

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  13. Nature at its most raw, its no wonder these guys have survived millions of years.
    Excellent shots Tammy
    Shaun

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  14. These are terrific shots! Wow! What a terrific series. It seems the alligator wasn't aware of your presence or just didn't care that you were there. I am sure you were far enough away to be safe.

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  15. Hola Tammy muy buenas las secuencias y algo dramaticas,pero es ley de vida y la ley del mas fuerte.Un abrazo

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  16. Oh my goodness! What a thrill it must be to witness this incredible event of nature. Superb shots, especially the last one of the gator looking at you! Love the first shot of all the Coots too.

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  17. Superb photos Tammy! Nature, red in tooth and claw!
    J
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

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  18. Wow, what a great series of images Tammy!

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  19. Fascinating! I love "circle of life" images for some morbid reason.

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  20. great story telling!! it looks like you were really really close t the action~

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  21. Excellent sequence of photographs and posts. I commend you. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Brilliant Tammy, what an amazing thing to witness, captured superbly.

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  23. Wowwwwwww!!! Impactantes imágenes las que nos muestras Tammy. Menudo momentazo viviste. Pobre animal, aunque es ley de vida.
    Enhorabuena por tan excelente reportaje.
    Saludos!!

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  24. excellent sequence great photos

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  25. This a fantastic series of photos! I actually was hoping to get this kind of scene caught on camera at Viera Wetlands a couple of years ago but without success. A gator leaped out of the water into a group of coots and ducks on shore, but he missed, twice. I kept waiting for him to come back and be successful with my camera ready, all while having the National Geographic theme in my head, but it never happened. It's great that you were able to capture this interesting event!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  26. It looks bad, but it is necessary to survive!.
    the way it is in nature, life ..

    Wonderful series.

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  27. WOW! Incredible shots Tammy. You have captured nature in the raw. Life and death in the natural world is all a part of the circle. You caught an event most of us will ever experience. Thank you.

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  28. This is amazing!!! I'm so glad you shared it even if it's a bit graphic... Nature is fascinating...

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  29. Just brilliant and graphic series of shots Tammy. Thanks for posting them all even if they are a bit gruesome.

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  30. Wow..........nothing more to be said!

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  31. Impresionantes capturas...así es la ley de la supervivenca en el reino animal.

    Saludos.

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  32. diese Aufnahmen sind der Wahnsinn.. absolut fantastisch
    Grüsse Frank



    these shots are awesome .. absolutely fantastic
    regards Frank

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  33. Wow. What great captures! I feel a little bad for the coot...

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I greatly appreciate your comments!