Thursday, March 29, 2012

Alligator Alley

Hut and I found a gem of place to go walking here in Polk County. It's been open for a few years but it's a pretty well kept secret. I thought I had posted about this before but evidently not. Guess I wanted to keep it a secret too. I will find the pictures from our first venture out here and post them soon. The place is called the Circle B Bar Reserve. It was formerly a cattle ranch. Actually the state bought 1/2 of the cattle ranch and turned it into a nature reserve. The other 1/2 is still a working cattle ranch. The reserve has about 8 walking/biking trails that are all natural. No cement sidewalks here. The first one we ever walked was a 1/2 mile trail which ended up being a mile because we forgot about the walk back, lol. The walk we went on Sunday was a 2 mile walk. The trail is called Alligator Alley and you will soon see why. You have to walk on the Shady Oak trail before you get to Alligator Alley. Things are pretty much left the way they fell. This tree stump, as we walked up to it, resembled a dragon to both Hut and I.As we got closer it seemed to me to resemble a deer. Hut said it reminded him of our Molly laying down and eating her bone. I could see that too,lol.
This I call the bridge to nowhere. It seems to serve no purpose but it is over a low lying area that probably floods when it rains. Out in the middle of nowhere.A shot of Lake Hancock through the trees. This lake is 7 miles around and the water is only 2 feet deep. And I loved that when I looked across the water there was NO development of any kind. I honesty hope it stays that way. The reserve, I told Hut, reminded me of dinosaur days (yes, I'm that old). It has the musty smell and the air was thick and clingy. But I loved it. The reserve is pretty much like it was when people settled this land.Just as we were getting to Alligator Alley I heard some banging. Here was a red-headed woodpecker busy on this tree.Walking on Alligator Alley you come upon a dock out on the lake. From that dock you could see tons of alligators. This was one of many. They say you can tell how many feel long an alligator is by how many inches it is from his snout to his eyes. I don't know about you, but I'm not getting that close. I figure all of the gators we saw in the lake were at least 10 feet and bigger.
All the black lines and spots? GATORS!!!! HUGE GATORS!!!! I counted 31 total. 15 on one side of the dock and 16 on the other. We ran into another lady who said she counted 45!There are 8 in this picture.There were not any gators near the dock itself. My camera has a pretty good zoom so that's where the close ups came from. I'm kinda glad there weren't any near the docks. This one was pretty long.One trying to hide in the weeds.Another one hiding in the weeds.Alligators on the other side of the dock.A few more on the other side of the dock.Alligator Alley is not all alligators. Here is one of many turtles co-habitating with the gators. I believe this is a painted turtle.
Even though these are round and look like helmets, I believe these turtles are called box turtles.
On the canal we were walking along, this big guy was the only one we saw sunning himself on the bank. And that was fine with me. He was only about 10 feet from us.
Another family of box turtles. And these guys were right in front of the big gator sunning himself.Another shot of the gator sunning himself.A black heron sunning himself. Believe it or not this gator is only 4 feet long. We were looking at a Coot (a bird) that was near him. I almost didn't see him. He blends right in with the logs.A blue heron stalking fish in the canal.
This is another 4 footer. He was a little harder to see since he was in the shade and only his head was showing.An osprey in the tree. These are very common in the wooded areas around here. Some friends were biking the trails the day we were there and they were lucky enough to see an eagle on one of the paths they were on. Hopefully one day I'll be as lucky.


Susie Q said...

Such a beautiful place and to see all this wildlife is awesome. Thank you for sharing all these photos with us Bonnie!

Missy Made It! said...

Absolutely gorgeous picture Bonnie. Ya'll do the neatest things together. When we visit can we go there? Pretty please?

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