A Gentle Reminder - The Dangers of Swamp Photography

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Turtle Stew 01 by Phocal Art, on Flickr

I got to my favorite alligator (Alligator Mississippiensis) photography park (Brazos Bend State Park, Texas) over an hour after sunrise because I accidentally slept in. It is the middle of mating season and I can hear them down in the swamp bellowing as I get my gear together. Unfortunately by the time I made my way to 40 Acre Lake they had finished establishing their territory for the day and there was only the occasional bellow. This time of the year the park is full of Yellow-Crown Night Herons (Nyctanassa Violacea) hunting crawfish and it didn’t take me long to come across one on the hunt.

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The Hunter by Phocal Art, on Flickr

The below photograph is a 180 degree panorama I took with my iPhone. The trail you see on the sides is the same trail which runs along 40 Acre Lake. To the right is the parking lot while the left joins up with the Causeway Trail. The Causeway Trail is just that, a causeway of raised earth that runs through the heart of the swamp and comes out at Elm Lake. During the summer it is my favorite trail in the park because it has a thick canopy of trees that helps to filter out the harsh summer light of east Texas. It is also a wildlife mecca, you are likely to see any of the various animals that make the park their home.

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Pano by Phocal Art, on Flickr

I was only sitting there a few minutes when Mr. Heron decided to try a different fishing spot just beyond the tree on the left in the photograph above. Moving down the trail to get closer I realized that I needed to go pass him so I wouldn’t be shooting into the sun. To accomplish this I moved to the far side of the trail and was able to get by without him flying off, positioning my self a little over half way between the tree and tower in the background.

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I See Breakfast by Phocal Art, on Flickr

The park has a large amount of swamp land within its boarder with an equally large number of gators that call it home. When in the swampy areas it is advisable to keep your head on a swivel because they can come from any direction. While sitting here watching Mr. Heron hunt I got a gentle reminder on just how dangerous it can be laying at the edge of the swamp perfectly still while wearing full camouflage.

As a wildlife photographer I am very observant and not much moves around me that I don’t notice. So imagine my surprised when a 8 foot gator crawled out of the water 40 feet in front of me without me even noticing him prior to coming out of the water. These guys move with such stealth despite their large size. The water below the floating foliage is only a few feet deep, you would think you would notice a gator moving through it to get to the shoreline. I never noticed this guy until he was at the bank and coming out of the water. After getting out of the water he decided to lay on the bank to enjoy the morning sun.

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Chiclet by Phocal Art, on Flickr

Story continues here, hope you enjoy it

Phocal
 
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I can relate to the danger… mostly for me just not watching where I step sometimes. The alligators in most of the nature centers and parks here are well fed by random humans and will follow you most anywhere. Makes you think twice about wandering off the boardwalk and getting down on your hands and knees to get a shot of that perfect mushroom!

Edited to post a crop of this guy that I didn't even notice until I reviewed the pictures I took of cypress trees in the "Trees" thread on Friday.
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Joined
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I can relate to the danger… mostly for me just not watching where I step sometimes. The alligators in most of the nature centers and parks here are well fed by random humans and will follow you most anywhere. Makes you think twice about wandering off the boardwalk and getting down on your hands and knees to get a shot of that perfect mushroom!

Edited to post a crop of this guy that I didn't even notice until I reviewed the pictures I took of cypress trees in the "Trees" thread on Friday.
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Don't get me started on people feeding wildlife. If I could I would shoot people when I see them doing it. Makes things so much more dangerous for people and the animals. I still haven't gotten my mindset for Alaska where anything that can kill you will look you in the eyes. I am still looking for snakes and spiders and gators when in the wilderness, even though I know I don't need to it is hard to stop doing something that had become second nature after so many years of running around the swamps.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Covington, LA, USA
Real Name
Glenn
Don't get me started on people feeding wildlife. If I could I would shoot people when I see them doing it. Makes things so much more dangerous for people and the animals. I still haven't gotten my mindset for Alaska where anything that can kill you will look you in the eyes. I am still looking for snakes and spiders and gators when in the wilderness, even though I know I don't need to it is hard to stop doing something that had become second nature after so many years of running around the swamps.
Well to be honest about it, things that crawl around here are far more likely to be eaten than fed! Cajuns will eat most anything that wiggles a bit and it usually tastes darn good at that. Unlike AK, other than gators not much here will eat you (whole anyway…) but lots of things can really ruin your day and being aware doesn’t always help much. It’s the ones you don’t see that bite you, sting you, or scare the crap out of you.
 
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Tasmania
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Richard
The alligators in most of the nature centers and parks here are well fed by random humans and will follow you most anywhere
That's the bit that worries me!
I wouldn't want to be one that caused those monsters to be well fed.

Appreciate the photos @Phocal
Great storey
 

Quadna71

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Thanks and yes it is.

Nope, still in Alaska. This was from a few years ago, 2017 to be exact.
I too was initially confused. After doublechecking the thread date twice, I assumed it was either a post that was a long time coming or your biking adventures were becoming a little overzealous! I'd also dub that turtle "Kuato" :biggrin:
 
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Mars
Ah. I do remember the turtle shots from a few years ago. But thought this might be a fresh set. Looking forward to some more snow images from you.

I too was initially confused. After doublechecking the thread date twice, I assumed it was either a post that was a long time coming or your biking adventures were becoming a little overzealous! I'd also dub that turtle "Kuato" :biggrin:

It is a re-write of an old post I did. Will be doing a lot of that as I move a lot of my writing to Vocal, testing it out to see how well it works. Trying to re-write things to more photography vs photography with Olympus cameras.
 

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