A new school year is soon to start, which means there are all sorts of first timers on the University of Florida campus. The adventurous ones head over to Lake Alice, hoping to catch their first glimpse of the gators their new team is named after. Since I had an appointment near campus today, that’s where I headed myself.
Walking along Lake Alice, it’s generally pretty easy to figure out where the gators are. Whenever you see a clump of people standing and pointing, there’s probably a gator. Unless they all have binoculars; then they’re probably looking at the trees full of egrets and anhingas. Birdwatchers tend to be unimpressed by alligators, although they’ll ooh and aah over the 500th heron of the day. They also tend to look up a lot more than the gator seekers.
People tend to think of gators as water-dwellers, and look in the lake for them. That’s not a bad place to look, because they do float around a lot and prefer to eat aquatic things, but they also spend time on the land. Floating gators are pretty cool, but I love it when I come across one on land. There were several groups of people looking in the lake that I directed to this guy. Don’t worry, he was pretty small, and very mellow.
These four-footers are a nice size to come across. They’re big enough that they won’t have a protective parent hovering nearby, and small enough that they can’t actually eat you. They could potentially hurt you, but that’s not very likely. Unless you’re poking at them with a stick! (Just a little poke at my friend and fellow blogger, Emily, from Hoof Beats and Foot Prints, who was also at Lake Alice this week.)
I had a lot of time to observe this one. He was perfectly content for me to walk around him, and probably would have let me walk right up to him, but I maintained a respectful distance of about four feet and let my camera do the close work. If he had been bigger, or showed any sign of interest in me, I would have stayed much farther away.