Thursday, March 22, 2007

Scary swamp creatures

Several of you mentioned the snakes that live in the swamps, but I didn't see any on Tuesday's tour. Nor did I see any bugs, not even the mosquitos that are the bain of every Louisiana citizen's existence. But you also mentioned alligators. Gators, I've got.

These guys (there are two of them lying side by side here) weren't big as alligators go. I'd estimate they were about six or seven feet long, still big enough to make me glad I was in the truck with the windows rolled up. Click the photo to enlarge it, and while you're looking, tell me if you think that "stick" in the water on the lower-right-hand side of the picture could be a third gator--a submerged one. I didn't see it when I took the photo, but it appears to have bumps on it exactly like those on the backs of the other alligators.

This one, on the other hand, was enormous. He had greenery hanging on his nose, head and shoulders, which made me feel a little sorry for him. It must be awful to have those short, stubby legs that won't reach high enough to pick the grass off his nose. Maybe the camouflage benefit makes up for it.

Here's another shot of the big guy from a different angle. His tail was doubled back, making him appear shorter than he actually was--about half again as big as the other gators we saw. I'm not sure my arms would have reached around his neck even if I'd wanted to try it.

And here we have some black vultures, scavengers rather than predators. The fence in the photo belongs to an oil company that has a small station and a few wells smack in the middle of the swamp. These guys, along with a large group of others on the ground and in the trees, appeared to be hanging out, passing the time until the lunch bell rang.

"Did you get any of that nutria yesterday? Man, that was delicious! I hope another one gets killed today."


  1. Velvet, Another set of very cool photos!

    The gators remind me of the long weekend we spent at my uncle's camp in French Settlement. We had a neighbor across the canal that was always friendly. We all commented all weekend how strange it was to see her car but never catch a glimpse of her. We finally saw her Sunday night and found out a 16ft gator had camped out right in front of her only door to her house boat all weekend. She was being held hostage and we didn't even know it!

  2. Great photos and I would have been glad to stay in the truck too! We have buzzards who sit on the fences cheering the prairie dogs on to cross the road when cars come. 'Come on! You can make it! Awww...anybody ready for lunch?'
    That top photo looks like another gater back to me too.

  3. Great pics! We have a cabin on the Colorado river and although it's not a swamp, there are Gators, especially visible this time of year, working on their base tans for summer or, I suppose, enjoying the sunny afternoons after too long a winter. The "is that a stick or a gator?" question is so familiar to me! I tend to bring the boat up on it to be sure. When it goes beneath the water as we approach, we have the answer. And then we stand in the boat, looking all around in a bit of fear, wondering exactly where it went.

  4. I like seeing alligators...on TV. Just looking at them makes me think of prehistoric times, when creatures bigger than them roamed the earth.

    Love your vulture caption!

  5. great photos! I envy you being so close to these amazing creatures!

  6. Wow, Holly, that's some story! Now you've got me imagining a variety of gator scenarios similar to the "land shark" sketches years ago on Saturday Night Live.

    Carmon, that's funny--a buzzard cheering section! I can just see it.

    Alison, unless you're talking about a very big boat, I think I'd probably just die right there on the spot if an alligator approached it.

    Janet, I wonder if dinosaurs had charming smiles like the gators and crocs do.

    Marion, I'm close--but not TOO close--to them, just the way I like it.

  7. Gators! Yeah!
    I wouldn't have ever thought I'd say that if it hadn't been for Steve Erwin. Before the Big Steve came along I would have skipped right over this entry here. Heck, I never would have said, "where are the gators" I would have been thankful there weren't any.

    When I lived in Tampa I saw them all the time, lots of nightmares about them when I lived there. Where was Steve then? I could have used him. Now, I have an appreciation for them. Also, I do think that's a third one there.
    very cool.


  8. Austin, I've lived in Louisiana for 29 years, and this was the first time I'd ever seen them in the wild. I've often heard reports of gators sighted where they weren't expected to be, and I've had people point them out in roadside ditches a time or two--but I never could pick them out. Glad I can check this one off my must-see list.

  9. I'm SOOO glad you decided not to give that gator a hug! I would have missed you.

    Great photos!

  10. Yes, we would have missed you but would the grave marker guy spell it correctly? That's the real mystery!!!

    Gone but not for



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