Monday, July 11, 2011

Florida Animal Photos

I have been roaming around in the State Parks and woods again, snapping some more Florida animal photos.  The animal life here I find fascinating and it is certainly “exotic” when compared with Yorkshire and Cumbria, although the Yorkshire and Cumbrian landscapes, with their hills, valleys, moors, and moody weather, are possibly more evocative in some senses.  (Comparing Cumbria/Yorkshire and Florida directly is like comparing chalk and cheese, but as I called the blog: From Sheep to Alligators, I feel I have to make an effort sometimes!)

The animal photos here were taken at two of my favourite places.  The first few shots, including those of the alligators, were snapped at Lake Alice, Gainesville, which is situated in the grounds of the University of Florida.  The rest were taken when my wife and I thought we’d take a wander away from the picnic area at Rum Island and follow the riverbank downstream for a while in the hope of capturing some Mother Nature.  We weren’t disappointed.  The riverbank was teeming with life.  (So much so, that we felt that we had to turn back - too many big spiders, but more on that later.)

A bird struts along the banks of Lake Alice, Gainesville
Semi-submerged alligator (I have mixed feelings about some of these alligator shots.  Some idiot had decided to feed them bread and that is why there were several that came up to the bank.  The problem with feeding them is that they lose their natural fear of humans and have been known to attack children.)
Young alligator moves to shore
Is it just me, or does this alligator have a smug expression?
Buzzard.  Its nest is in the hollowed out tree trunk that it is perched above.  We disturbed a pair who were feeding on a dead animal.  The female flew off and left the male, who is pictured.

Enormous grasshopper!  Beautiful yellow and black markings.
This is the first time that I have managed to capture a photo of a snake in the wild.  I probably see about one snake a month over here, but I either don't have a camera on me, or they slither away before I can get a snap!
Big spiders in the woods.  There were so many of them, we decided to turn back.  After a while, you start seeing them everywhere and get neurotic about walking into one of their webs.  The last thing you want is a big spider on your head!
Another big spider with the river in the background.


  1. Great pics Paul. One of the things I miss the most about Virginia are the bugs. The water birds too, but in VA the frogs are loud, and the bugs are loud: katydids, cicadas, crickets, and june bugs. Green places are just alive in a different way.

    Right now South East England is green and magical. The best thing is not having to worry about poison ivy when hiking!

    Hope all of your paperwork is going through and you're surviving the heat!


  2. Interesting shots...except for the spiders...I don't do spiders. I cleverly managed to avoid the 'bird eating' variety when I lived in QLD (northern Australia)...oh except in the pet shops where they sold them! I can't imagine what a huge change this presents for you as there is nothing at all scary or dangerous here in the U.K. (I've been told). Robx

  3. @Tara - Yes, there is a pretty much constant background noise of crickets, frogs, etc. in Florida. In the UK, you might get birds and that's pretty much it most of the time.

    Of course, you do get proper seasons in the UK, which is nice. Here in FL, the seasons are far less dramatic.

    Also as my wife noticed, English grass and plants are a different shade of green to here in Florida. It is darker and fuller in the UK, which is probably why Britain and Ireland are famous for their greenery (probably all the rain that does it!).

    There is a type of poison ivy in England, isn't there, it grows on buildings and walls? Maybe it is less poisonous than the Virginian variety?

  4. @Robynne - All the dangerous animals in England were pretty much wiped out hundreds of years ago. I believe that there were wolves and bears and wild boars at one time. There are poisonous snakes, but they aren't fatal and you would be extremely unlucky to encounter one. I think I only encountered one snake in 40 years in the UK, and that was just a small, harmless grass snake. I've seen 7 snakes in Florida in as many months! (ps I am not too keen on spiders either!)

  5. Variety of wild life indeed.. like these alligators, one can see many types of lizards in gainesville on trees and home's outer walls!! i fear snakes and spiders.. i don't know much about snake's variety in gainesville but here in indian subcontinent there are many poisonous species of snakes including cobra (very poisonous, if not treated immediately then fatal)

  6. Reptiles are under-respresented in the UK. Too cold for them generally.

    There are reptiles everywhere here, especially small lizards. I think there are about 50 varieties of snake in Florida, 6 of them dangerous. I don't know which is which generally, so I am wary of most types that I encounter! lol

  7. Ugh, those spiders freak me out. Twice I've walked into their webs and twice I've had giant spiders actively clinging to my face at Hillsborough River State Park. Nasty things, but somehow not as scary as the house spiders we find on the ceiling!

    My grandad has an adder under his rhubarb patch back in Worcester, says it keeps the rodents at bay, which is what the snake in your picture probably does as it looks like a Yellow Rat snake to me and FYI, not poisonous.

    And I think the bird is a vulture, it's certainly ugly enough!

  8. @Rob - I really don't want a spider on me!

    Yes, you are correct, it is a vulture. But they often call them "buzzards" locally (well, my wife does) so I think I am going to go with "buzzard" on this ocassion, even though it technically isn't a buzzard. :-)

    Here's what Wiki says on this:
    "In the New World Buzzard can mean: A vulture, particularly the American Black Vulture and Turkey Vulture, or as a general term for vultures."

  9. @Rob - I looked up the snake and I believe that you're correct about that too! For 2 bonus points can you name the bird in the first photo?

  10. Well, when I moved here I made it a point to be able to identify snakes and spiders so to as avoid the poisonous ones! No chance of a poisonous bird, so I didn't bother learning about those, but it looks like a heron - similar to the grey ones I've seen in the UK too.

  11. I think there's about 6 dangerous venomous snakes in FL, but the cottonmouth is the one most likely to be encountered here in Gainesville, according to my wife. The ones I see most often around here are the (relatively harmless) dark racers, which account for 50% of all my snake sightings. I say 'relatively harmless' because I wouldn't relish being bitten by a non-fatal snake bite, even if it doesn't kill me! haha!

    Yes, I think it is a heron. I've never been much good with birds. There used to be an egret in my neighbourhood here but I think the gator either scared it off, or ate it (there was a suspicious looking pile of white feathers one time when we walked by!)

  12. Buzzard is a generic term covering carrion birds and sometimes birds of prey in the South. Everyone I know (except the Brits) use it and the term vulture almost interchangably. :-)