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Posts tagged ‘hatchlings’

A Proud Momma

I’ve missed my alligators — but I’ve returned to their land, and in their honor, another devoted post! I’ve equally missed my poor Serenity Spell, due to a trip to the northern climes, a new OS on my lifeline laptop, an installed Photoshop, thanks to a dear friend (I now know how to insert my copyright…hoorah!), and a new watermark — courtesy of my gracious friend and skilled web designer Richard Yartlett.

On the night that Isaac roared into Florida (as a Tropical Storm) with its torrential flooding and high winds, one of the resident gators at our protected wetlands became a proud momma. She had fiercely protected her nest (or mound) throughout the 65-day incubation period, which she alone built out of vegetation, sticks, and mud in a sheltered spot near the water. She had laid her 20-50 eggs and covered them under more vegetation, which heated as it decayed, serving to incubate the eggs. If a mother alligator is killed or removed, she can’t protect her nest or young — and the hatchlings are doomed. Leave wildlife alone!

{Click to enlarge images!}

Hullo, momma!

Such a patient momma

The hatchlings were welcomed to quite a world! It was an eventful night, with brilliant and incessant lightning, high winds, and downpours to impress even the most hardened native Floridian.

Two weeks later, I spied the proud momma and her myriad babies. I was thrilled — I often see baby alligators, and obviously many adults. And I see them together…. But to see them intertwined is difficult — usually, the mother keeps a watchful eye on her babies from a safe distance.

Little prince of the swamp

Eye see youuuuu….

Hatchlings are 6-8 inches long, and are near-replicas of their parents, save for a series of yellow and black stripes which camouflage beautifully with the surrounding marsh roots. For five months, they’ll remain with the mother before finding their own ways. In our area, we typically see 5-10 baby alligators survive in the protected wetlands. Perhaps less. Common predators that prey upon the juvenile alligators include snakes, raccoons, bobcats, raptors, and even larger alligators. But for now, they’re being watched over by a very dutiful and observant momma….

A perfect perch

The Babies of Wakodahatchee

There are always babies at Wakodahatchee, at any given time — baby herons and egrets, baby ibises, baby ducks, baby shorebirds and songbirds, baby rails, coots and moorhen, baby turtles, baby alligators…. With 140+ species of birds alone at the site, there is constant nesting activity. It’s tremendous for the wildlife to have this protected habitat in the middle of South Florida’s suburban sprawl, on the edge of the Everglades — and equally favorable for the humans to silently appreciate Nature and her own lovely order.

Here, Cattle Egret nestlings put on a show and tussle with each other in the rookery….

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