Gators on the Move

Another adventure on the Prairie (La Chua Trail again).  This time around, I was the person who called the ranger.  The gators were certainly on the move today, and although I don’t profess to know much about gator behavior, my guess is that it was because it has rained so much in the past few days that they are searching for new water holes/ food sources.  I think I will be taking a break from the trail for a little while due to all of the movement and because a gator hissed at me today (yes, hissed!).

Disclaimer:  I used my 400mm lens today, so although it looks like I was very close to the gators, I was not.  Usually I am up on the path while I shoot pictures of the gators in the canals.  Today, however, a few of the gators were on the path, which is why I will be taking a break from the trail for a little while- too close for comfort.  I respect that they are wild animals and that they, in fact, might be hungry, and I might look like food.


Big gators sunning in the sink (a view from the boardwalk covered platform)

A smart gator found a resting spot at the bottom of the dam's waterfall (where fish are known to get sucked down)

A bunch of gators found a great fish-finding spot

Bird resting on a branch

Alert gators

I headed back to the entrance as soon as I saw this gator along the path- he was on the wrong side of the trail AND was facing the path.

Close-up shot of the small gator on the path

A gator changing positions- he went from one side of the dam to the other

This is the same gator that crossed the dam- he is not making any noise, and his mouth stayed open like that for 5 minutes- I think he was cooling off?

Unfortunately after I turned around to head back after seeing the smaller gator on the path, I realized that I was blocked by another gator.

This particular gator had moved from the canal (same gator that blocked my path- above)

I had to play the waiting game because I couldn't go backward (because of the other gator on the trail behind me) or forward. He finally got up to move.

He took a rest, and that's when I moved to the right because he had moved left. This is when he stood up and hissed at me. And... that's when I called the ranger!

Thankfully, before right after I called the ranger he walked away.

See you later, alligator!


Moral of the story is… I will either stay on the boardwalk, go in the afternoons (a person on the path told me that gators move the most in the mornings), or wait until it has been sunny for a few days and hopefully the gators will be tanning themselves rather than looking for food.

Follow-up:  After relaying the story to a friend who knows a tons of information about gators (, he said that the gator hissed to let me know that he was there and that I was getting too close, but not as a threat.

An Alligator Adventure!

I decided to take a walk along La Chua Trail this morning- it’s always so beautiful, and it’s a great 3 miles exercise path.  As always, you never know what you will see, and I’m pretty vigilant about scanning the ground for snakes, alligators, bugs, etc…  BUT this time I was taken by surprise when I almost stepped directly in front of a decent-sized alligator.  His body was hidden from view because he was on a hill, and his head was hidden from view because he was behind a fence post.  Once my heart started beating normally again I maintained a safe distance (and was behind another fence) to begin taking pictures.

I couldn't see this gator until I was almost directly in front of it.

This big guy was on a hill so was hidden from view.

(I was behind a fence- I promise!)

The gator decided he wanted more sun so changed positions (I was meeting my friend in the parking lot when he changed positions-- maybe he thought the view was better here?).

Some people just walked around him...

While others waited for the rangers... He was not happy about losing his sunny spot.

Unhappy gator

Marching off in a huff

A very unhappy gator

Keep going!

Heading to the canal for a forced swim

On another note... great day for spotting baby gators

And for spotting clumps of big gators...

Happy trails!

UF Campus Part II: HOME Magazine

If you have the chance to pick up a copy of the newest HOME Magazine (Feb-March 2012 issue), please do.  As always, the magazine is top-notch.  Or, you can browse the magazine online at:  The article is on pages 67-69.

I have also added the additional photographs that accompany this article. Enjoy!!!


Scavenger Hunts for Kids- Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and La Chua Trail

I have to admit that my idea of creating nature scavenger hunts is absolutely not an original one.  I came upon the idea while at Fairchild Tropical Gardens last summer – I had my 3 year old with me and I wanted very badly to take pictures of the beautiful flora.  The help desk cheerfully gave me a simple piece of paper and pencil for my son, and it opened up a new world for him.  He searched high and low for every item on the list and it make him use most of his senses.

I was inspired to create these scavenger hunts for other kids because of a few articles I recently read about how kids with ADHD can be helped by just spending 20 minutes per day out in nature.  For additional articles, simply google “nature and adhd.”  Another interesting article about the benefits of all children being out in nature:

I have created a few off-the-cuff scavenger hunts for P over the past year and a half (mostly on scrap paper, and always because he is with me while I am trying to accomplish something).  I finally thought that if I created a few templates that others might be able to use them as well.  If I can figure out how to post them so that they are downloadable, I will do so.  If I cannot, please feel free to e-mail me at and I will reply back with the printable scavenger hunts.

Kanapaha Gardens Scavenger Hunt


La Chua Trail Scavenger Hunt

University of Florida Campus Scavenger Hunt






Newest HOME Magazine Article: First in a series featuring UF Campus

HOME: Living in the Heart of Florida Magazine

If you have not visited UF Campus lately, definitely head out there soon.  The grounds department has built new gardens, water features, sitting areas, etc…  ALL over campus.  The first article in the series of gardens of UF Campus features gardens and highlights from the west side of campus.  Check out pages 51-53 in the newest HOME Magazine.  The hard copy will be available next week and there are tons of other great articles in the Dec/Jan issue, so definitely check it out soon if you can.

Other news:

About 20 new pictures will be hung at the Shands South Tower this week (the new Shands Cancer Center).  I will let everyone know where they can be viewed as soon as I know (and if they can be viewed without suiting up!).

Also, if you know of a charity/ nonprofit that needs meeting space for events or meetings, check out the new space that LifeSouth built especially for that purpose– and the cost will be nominal to nonprofits- just enough to cover any staff needed.  They have a full kitchen and large event/ training room area, as well as smaller conference rooms.  About 30 large pictures will be going up there today and tomorrow.




Al ClementsDecember 1, 2011 - 6:57 pm

I always look forward to the new article in Home. Thanks for your hard work and God Bless your talent.