Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Unexpected Surprises in the Field

Nothing is more exciting than going out to photograph and witnessing the unexpected.
On my recent photo trip to the Florida Everglades, I witnessed a most unusual sight...
I was photographing birds from the boardwalk on the Anhinga Trail, when I noticed a spot of bright pink out of the corner of my eye.  Looking more closely, I saw it was a huge alligator swimming toward me with something pink in its mouth.  I got very excited thinking  I would be witnessing it feeding on a roseate spoonbill.  I have never watched an alligator feed in the wild!

Feeling excited and a little queasy about what i was about to see, I pointed my 600mm lens in his direction to capture the action on motor drive as he slowly approached...
just knew I was about to witness a flashback from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and capture some dramatic images in the spirit of Nat Geo!!
The alligator swam closer and I noticed something shaped like a graceful neck of a bird!!  Even closer...and I saw 2 slender pink "necks" in his mouth.
I began firing away, eagerly waiting to see the drama of the food chain in action firsthand!
By the time he turned sideways, he opened his mouth wide revealing the pink "bodies" of the birds...
BUT WAIT...Those weren't birds...
it was a stuffed pink monkey!! 

My  excitement changed to a bit of disappointment and plain curiosity as I continued to witness and photograph  what would happen next.  The gator held the stuffed animal in its mouth, tossing its head up and backward, as if trying to reposition it in order to ingest it in one big gulp!  He did this 3 or 4 times without success before settling into a still position with its pink prey clenched in its sharp white teeth.

I will never know how this situation ended for the alligator,(and can only imagine how it ended for the child who lost a cherished toy)  but I feel very fortunate  to have witnessed a 'toned down' version of survival in the wild...
(all images: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF600mm f4/L IS USM lens, AV mode, ISO 800, 1/250 second @ f 6.3)


  1. Makes quite an unusual wildlife photo! You may be the only photographer that has ever photographed an alligator with a pink stuffed animal in it's mouth!

  2. I think Debbie, Lesley and Bill P. have a few shots of this, too. We couldn't believe our eyes and were happy to know there wasn't a child on the other end of the toy... :-O

  3. OMG TOOOOOOO FUNNY! I can only imagine how you must have laughed when you realized what it what...and I know your infectious laugh! hysterically funny and yes, relieving to know there wasn't a child on the other end of the toy. That gator must have had terrible intestinal issues afterwards. Then again it's fiber...PUN intended!