Feb 102018

One of the most requested things people have asked for when they come to visit us here in Florida is to see an alligator in the wild. If you have not seen one of these big predators  who have not changed since prehistoric times, it’s quite a thrill.

And we always know just the place to take people to see them; the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore, about 25 miles south of us, near Titusville. This is not a zoo, where the animals lives in cages and enclosures and are fed and tended to by caring staff members. The animals on the Refuge are wild and this is the real deal. You are a visitor in their home.

Yesterday we took Terry’s parents down there and drove the Black Point Wildlife Drive, a 7 mile one-way dirt/gravel road that winds its way around the marshes.

You would have to be blind not to be able to spot an assortment of wildlife along this road. Terry and I have driven it many times, either just the two of us, or with visitors, and we never fail to see a variety of birds and quite a few alligators.

This trip was no exception, and we saw at least 15 alligators. They ranged from small fellows to some real big ones that I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Or anyplace else, for that matter.

I’m glad this critter was where he was, and I was safe inside our Explorer. I’m pretty sure a gator can outrun a fat guy, but probably not a Ford. It’s times like these when you appreciate digital cameras with zoom lenses.

Is this a face only a mother could love? Well, I guess if it was a mama gator, she could.

I don’t know if this guy was just resting his head on a friend to get comfortable or if love was in the air.

We saw lots and lots of birds wading in the shallow water looking for dinner.

And managed to get photos of a few of them flying, too.

Terry said this is a stork, but I don’t know. The last stork I saw was peddling Vlasic pickles and it didn’t look anything like this.

Terry’s favorite birds are roseate spoonbills, and there were flocks of them around yesterday. They are beautiful on the ground and water.

And breathtaking when they are flying.

We took the back way home, crossing Haulover Canal, and stopped at the manatee viewing area because Pete and Bess had never seen one in the wild before. Our timing was perfect, because one was swimming by just as we arrived. How cool is that?

Today Bess’s sister Jean, her husband Tom, and their son Cory are driving up from their home in the Orlando area to visit us. It looks like there’s going to be a family reunion at our place.

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Thought For The Day – A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams. – John Barrymore

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  3 Responses to “A Ride On The Wild Side”

  1. We spent a winter in Florida and it was over 2 months before we ever saw a gator in the wild. Saw a lot of manatees, never did see a flamingo……did see frost south of Frostproof. False advertising! 🙂 Ed

  2. If you take Pete and Bess just north of Crystal River you will see lots of Manatees on the discharge side of the Electric Plant where the water is warm. Also in the Three Sisters natural Hot Springs near Homosassa Springs where you can actually Float with those beautiful gentle creatures.
    Make certain they see the Pelicans flying in Formation above the water at Dusk. I’m certain they were the inspiration for the Air Force and Navy learning to fly formation.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It’s about time.

  3. Looks like a really neat place to visit.

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