Friday, December 2, 2016

12/2 Oasis Visitor Center Alligator Residents

The one place in Florida where you can absolutely positively always see alligators is from the Oasis Visitor Center boardwalk along the Tamiami Trail.  It is a couple of miles down from my campground, so I go there sometimes for cell service.  
 


There is a small visitor center there, but not much in the way of display.  The good stuff is outside.

Along the highway, is the ditch built to construct the highway almost a century ago. You can see a fee alligators here.
 
The Big Cypress Preserve has built this very nice boardwalk along the ditch. 
 
More alligators.  Can you see that they are resting on a limestone ledge?  When they dug this ditch, they had to use dynamite to break up the limestone.  This is the same limestone that lies under all of Florida, but here it is only a few inches below the ground. 
 

Most of these guys are 5-7 feet long.  No smaller ones because big alligators eat little alligators, if they can, so little alligators hide and are protected by their mothers.
 
And these fish are why the alligators hang around.  If cars slowed down as they drove between Napes and Miami, they could see 100 miles of this ditch, along with alligators and fish.  There are catfish and the long skinny ones are gar. Don't know about the others, but some are a couple of feet long, and there are a lot of little fish for birds as well.  
 
This is a gar.

And this is a juvenile white ibis.  He is probably about a year old.

 I waited a long time, but this shy bird would NOT come out from underneath his hiding place.  I am not sure, but he might be a juvenile great blue heron.  In any case, his bill gives him away as some sort of heron.

At least I got a close-up!  Might be a tricolor heron, but probably not.  Glad I don't have his knobby knees!

This is a little blue heron.  They are an evenly colored grey-blue, with a blue beak, and they are smaller than the great blue heron in the next photo.
 
This gorgeous great blue heron is in prime breeding plumage, evidenced by the feathery plumes!  See how his beak matches the shy bird's?

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