American Alligator -- Alligator Farm; Saint Augustine, Florida: So, I spent three days photographing herons and egrets at the alligator farm. I would have been remiss had I not taken some alligator photos as well. After all, I was at an alligator farm.
I shot this image of two alligators lounging on the waters surface near the boardwalk that I worked from to photograph the nesting birds. I have spent many, many hours over the years in swamps and have had many encounters with alligators. It is easy to become complacent and lose a true sense of fear of the animals. Most all gators I see are lying around riverbanks and lakeshores basking in the sun, or lazily floating in the water. At the alligator farm I was reminded of just how wild and dangerous gator really are.
I just happened to be looking in the right direction, at the right time to see the action. A Snowy Egret was walking along the shoreline of the pond that held the hundred or so big gators of the farm. The egret seemed cautious, keeping its distance from the gators basking on the shore. However the distance was not great enough. Like lighting a gator sprang from its illusion of slumber and grabbed the egret before the bird was able to raise a wing. In an instant more than half a dozen gators converged at the point of action, but it was too late for them, and the egret. In a fraction of a second only the yellow feet of the Snowy Egret were visible protruding from the gape of the gators mouth. Nature had reminded me not to be complacent, but to always be vigilant when in the wild, or in this case in a popular tourist attraction where the wild was brought to me.
Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-85 set to 85mm, 1/125sec. @ f9