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Like always, this trip to Paynes Prairie was a very different one and a very memorable one at that. This time when we went, we saw the harrier hawk again, great blue herons, great egrets, pied-billed grebes, the wild horses, a very young raccoon, a few song birds and just a hand-full of active alligators. Because it was so cold that day, about 40˚F, most reptile activity was at a minimum because of the fact that they are cold blooded and require sunlight and warmth to be capable to move and hunt. So while we were there most of the alligators we saw were along the bank sunning and trying to stay warm.

This was one of the great blue herons we saw that day. Because it was so cold and windy most of the animals were trying to hunker down out of the elements so they could keep warm, which made it easy for us to get really close and get some good photos of them.

Here is one of the grebes we saw that day. I was able to get a photo of its catch, a crayfish, before it shot back under the water. These birds are very interesting, because I have seen them all over the country and each time I see them they always have managed to catch some form of prey, even just a matter of minutes which is astounding for a species to be that efficient at catching prey. And once their prey is caught they turn it and swallow it whole, head first, because like all other birds they have no teeth to chew their prey with.

We got to see this young raccoon in broad daylight, which is a little concerning. That either meant he did not know what to do because he was too young, or he had a disease that caused his behavior to be altered. Regardless we gave him distance and let him do his own thing.

We were able to see the White Herd again, unfortunately the white mare was too deep in the brush to get a clear photo. This was another mare of the herd and she was pregnant and whenever dealing with a pregnant animal, wether it is a horse or a bear or an orca, you need to give it plenty of room because it could attack at any second if it feels that you are threatening it. More people are attacked by mother or pregnant bears than solo bears that are both male and female, so there is hard fact to back that reasoning. So if you ever see a pregnant animal while you are in the great outdoors make sure to keep a safe distance and let it do its own thing.

This is by far one of my most memorable moments in Paynes Prairie. I spotted the harrier perched right by the trail and I was able to slowly work my way to it until I was within three feet and my lens would’t focus. I backed off and gave her space and some hikers came down the trail and spooked her and it literally took her less than a second to get off the perch and shoot into the trees. It is truly incredible to watch them fly through brush because they can change their wings from being vertical to horizontal or bend them in to dodge branches in a fraction of a second. Nature is amazing!

Every time we go on Paynes Prairie we see something different, wether it’s the horses or massive alligators chomping on turtles, or a harrier buzzing the scrub for mice and other small prey. This time, however, we saw something very distressing, the water. Sure enough there is a river running along the side of the trail almost year round unless it has been very dry and it dries up for a few days or weeks, but this time the water level was within inches of overflowing the trail! This was both nerve-racking and an adrenaline rush because I have seen monster alligators there easily pushing eight to nine feet long and, with the water being so high, they could be within inches of us and we would never even know it. Along with the vast amount of water that day there was a huge gathering of birds. Wood storks, snowy egrets, great egrets, great blue herons, little blue heron, yellow-crowned night herons, black-crowned night herons, green herons, tri-colored herons, glossy ibis, white ibis, and far to many others to name all fishing together in a space no bigger than a fifty foot square. We watched them pluck fish out of the water right next to alligators and anticipated them to become a meal themselves but the gators never attacked a bird while we were there.

We were able to see the “White Herd,” (I came up with the name because the matriarch is a very unique white horse) and the matriarch had a cattle egret on her, and so did some of the other horses in the herd. I don’t know if they were just using them as perches or for a quick meal from the insects on them but either way it was interesting seeing them on their backs.

I don’t know what this great blue heron caught, but to me it looks like a freshwater eel. Regardless, we saw so many birds catching fish it was almost impossible not to catch one of them with the camera. The water even looked like it was boiling because of all the fish swimming around trying to evade the snapping beaks and jaws of their predators.

This is a black-crowned night heron hiding in the branches of a tree overlooking the rolling boil of fish in the water below. I was extremely lucky to spot him in such a hidden spot, let alone how hard they are to see in the wild in general. I can probably count the number of times I have seen a night heron on my hands and this is the closest I ever have been to one and they are very peculiar and unique birds and I love seeing them.

This was a massive gator, he had to have been around seven feet long if not more and I saw him right when I looked down from photographing the night heron! I was far too close to this beast but it didn’t seem to care, it stayed perfectly still with it’s eyes half closed soaking in the intense Florida summer sun. I’m not saying that he couldn’t have struck at any second, but I was extremely fortunate that this monster wasn’t more aggressive.

By the terms of an alligator, this one was a small one. Probably about two or three years old and easily within four feet long, he would have no difficulty taking off a finger or a limb so even “little” alligators need to be respected. He wasn’t far away at all and with the raised level of the water I was able to get low enough to make the image nicer than if I was standing straight looking down at him. Remember, a major key to making, remember I said making not taking, a good wildlife photo is to get at eye level with the subject. But only do it if you are a safe enough distance from the animal!!!

On the last week of June and through the first week of July I went to the great state of Alaska with some guys from my Boy Scout Troop! Here in Florida you are lucky to see one Bald Eagle every year, but in Alaska you can literally see ten different eagles in a minute! While we were there we saw four Humpbacked Whales, a pod of Dall’s Porpoises, a Steller’s Sea Lion, three Harbor Seals, a very large Black Bear, tons of salmon (literally), countless Bald Eagles, swarms of mosquitos, and hundreds of other species of animals that we did not have time to fully identify! Over all we had a blast and it is defiantly going to be a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Right across the street where we were staying was a huge gathering place for the eagles to fish, so every morning before the boats came out and scared them away, my dad and I went out and took pictures of them until there were none left to see.

Needless to say, we got some incredible shots of the eagles while we were there in the mornings! This is a four year old eagle taking flight. You can tell the age of a Bald Eagle by how white their head is. One is all brown, Two is starting to see some white, Three is a mix of brown and white, Four is mostly white with a little brown, and Five is all white.

This is an older eagle coming in to land with his talons extended to grab the rock.

Here is something I have never seen in my life, an eagle taking a drink! And what is stranger is that this is right where a river meets the ocean, so it is slightly brackish water. But I really love this shot because of the perfect mirror reflection of the eagle as it drinks!

And this is the main reason that the eagles are in this area, fish! Especially right here where the ocean meets a river for the salmon to swim up to their spawning grounds. While I was in Alaska I saw Bald Eagles catching salmon left and right and I never saw one miss its target!

I found this incredible, an eagle managed to catch a flounder (not a halibut, we checked)! Flounder are bottom fish so I have no explanation on how this eagle caught it. I love this shot because it shows the size of an eagle, because that fish is about the size of a dinner plate! Also you can see the rain drops in the photo and the wet feathers on the eagle’s head.

When we were on our ferry from Ketchikan to Juneau we saw a small pod of Dall’s Porpoises swimming with us! It was very cool to see because I have never seen a porpoise and they were only a few feet from the ship! They were very funny animals and the went down several times and on one of the times they surfaced nearly a hundred yards in front of the ship and started to dart around trying to catch fish! It was very fun to watch them even though it was raining outside at the time.

On one of the first days while we were in Ketchikan we went to one of the beaches to look in tidal pools, and while we were looking at a sea star all i heard was a loud puff sound and i looked over and saw the unmistakable fluke of a Humpbacked Whale. The fluke of a whale is the back of its tail flipper.

When we were on the ferry back to Ketchikan we heard someone say there was a whale off the port (left) bow (front). I grabbed my camera and flew out the door and as soon as I did I saw it breach the water! When a whale breaches it gets the majority of its body out of the water then crashes back down into the sea. This whale breached four times in the ten minutes that we saw him!

This is a Harbor Seal that we saw swim under us when we were on a bridge. It was in the same area where the eagles were catching fish and drinking, but it was during high tide. The tides there can be the difference of twelve feet! This seal actually caught a salmon but swam away before I could get a shot of him with his prize.

This was the Black Bear that we saw on our last day in Alaska! He was massive by Black Bear standards, and I would have to guess he was roughly four feet tall at the shoulder and if he stood up he would push six feet. He was only out for a matter of twelve minutes which is a very short amount of time!

This bear actually caught a salmon, and a huge salmon at that! He walked past a lot of salmon that were just swimming in the water, but as soon as this one started to bolt away he chased it down and caught it! That is why they say never run from a bear.

After he caught the salmon he brought it to a pile of fallen trees and drift wood. He sat there and munched on the salmon until he picked it clean and we left. It was a very cool experience seeing that bear walk out of the grass, onto the shore, catch a fish, and eat it all in a matter of just over twelve minutes!

I hope this information was helpful to you and I would appreciate it if you would follow my blog. I also have a YouTube channel based on survival videos that I make, and I would appreciate it if you took a look at that too ( Thank you.

My dad and I went on the Silver River to photograph the wildlife on it. Each time we go on it we see something new or something we haven’t seen in a long time, but that is true with almost all areas with wildlife. This time we saw two groups of wild pigs, two sows and her piglets which in total was near fifteen, and the last time we saw the wild pigs was in 2007! We also saw some of the Silver River’s famous Rhesus Monkeys. But probably the most surprising sight of the day was a seven-foot alligator with a large raccoon in its jaws!

With a low shutter-speed you can get a ton of cool looking shots, so I panned with this Wood Duck at a low shutter-speed. If you want to ever see some Wood Ducks in the wild come to the Silver River in May, because on every bend in the river there were ducks and all of them were in full color!

This is one of the wild piglets! You might think that it is weird for it to be pink and I have a theory, and it has scientific backing to it also. Back in the 1500-1600 when the Spanish were exploring the area some of their livestock got loose and that is why we have wild pigs, wild horses, and wild cattle here in Florida. Anyways, I believe that it is pink either from a recessive gene in its DNA from its ancestors, or the sow mated with a domesticated pig some how. Either way it was very cool to see a pink piglet in the wild!

This is the sow of that little pink piglet. This is what a wild pig usually looks like. It has a longer snout, dark fur, and it is slimmer than its domesticated cousin. She was walking around in the water and grazing on the river grass just like a moose would in Maine or Alaska! It was a lot of fun to watch her in her natural habitat at see her behavior without being disturbed by people.

These are the Rhesus Monkeys that call the Silver River their home. They escaped from their enclosure at Silver Springs and now they fill the forests with their calls. They are very interesting and fun to watch and I have seen them almost every time I have gone on the river.

This is that seven-foot alligator that had the raccoon! We saw him dart under the boat and I got a few shots off as he swam by. You can see the striped tail of the raccoon in its jaws!

I filmed a video while I was on the river, here is a link. I hope this information was helpful to you and I would appreciate it if you would follow my blog. I also have a YouTube channel based on survival, and I would appreciate it if you took a look at that too ( Thank you.

Every time I go to Paynes Prairie I see something new or something I didn’t see before. I will sometimes see the wild horses, but I didn’t see them this time. Instead I saw a Whooping Crane! They are some of the most endangered birds in the world, and they come to Paynes Prairie fairly often.

Fortunately there is one animal that I can guarantee that you will see, and that is the American Alligator. They are around every bend there and they can be from eight inches long to eight feet long!

Sometimes they will get a little closer than you might like. This one is well over eight feet long and he was laying right off of the trail! These creatures are from the same age as the dinosaurs, and they don’t look like they have changed one bit. The bite strength of an alligator is greater than that of a Tyrannosaurus-Rex! And when they do latch onto you, their jaws close like a vise and will not open, then they will spin to rip off chunks of flesh! They are very vicious animals.

This is a Great Blue Heron that had a alligator swim up to it. I half expected it to attack the heron, but it ducked under water and disappeared!

These are two Snowy Egrets that were standing in the water waiting for small fish to swim by so they could have an easy meal. These birds were hunted to near extinction because of their ornate feathers, but were saved when Theodore Roosevelt created the National Audubon Society to protect these birds.

This is a Great Egret hunting. It landed in the weeds and stood like a statue for twenty minutes before striking. As it flew away we saw that it had a snake in its mouth!

This is a Wood Stork that was hunting for snails and clams. This is one of my favorites of the day because of the back light!

This is my favorite photo of the day, the Whooping Crane and the Great Blue Heron. You can see the radio transmitter on the leg of the Whooping Crane, every Whooping Crane has one so they can monitor where they go to protect them.

I hope this information was helpful to you and I would appreciate it if you would follow my blog. I also have a YouTube channel based on survival, and I would appreciate it if you took a look at that too ( Thank you.

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