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Alligator in Salt Marsh
The Daily Bucket is a place where we post and exchange our observations about what is happening in the natural world in our neighborhoods. Birds, blooms, bugs & more - each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.

This is a quick bucket about some of what I saw when I went to the coast yesterday.

What I mostly saw was water.  The tide was high and heavy rains had fallen meaning that both tidal and freshwater marshes and ponds were full.

Shorebirds have started to reappear.  This is a not very good picture of a Ruddy Turnstone showing it still in vibrant breeding plumage.  I'm not sure what the smaller sandpiper.

Ruddy Turnstone and unknown sandpiper
It was very windy and the rivers were flowing strongly into the gulf.  This made for dark, wavy water and bad fishing.  Almost no fish eating birds were flying.  Pelicans and cormorants were perched on the pilings of an ancient dock.  Terns and skimmers sat in a dry spot in the marsh, visible in the distance.

On surprise fish-eater for the day was this White Pelican.  Typically these are winter birds here in north Florida.  

White Pelican
By the time I got to the Pelican the tide was down a bit and fiddler crabs started to appear.
Fiddler Crabs
The other surprise for me was seeing several young alligators (i would guess hatched out a few months ago) by the St. Marks NWR visitor's center.  Small alligators are usually pretty inconspicuous but these guys were hanging out in full view.  I guess they figured that the human traffic would keep them safe.

I went back later in the afternoon to try and get some photos when there were no other people around.  I discovered the area was rife with alligators.

First I came across an older juvenile - the body (not counting tail) was about the size of a beagle.  It was in a tiny creek right at the mouth of a culvert.  It was in deep shade so no picture.

Getting to the edge of the pond I prepared to walk past the education center to get to where the babies had been earlier.  Then I spot another 'gator'.  Can you see it?

Alligator in habitat
Here's a close up.  This was a more sizable but not huge animal.  Possibly the mother?  I didn't approach.
Alligator eyes
Walking further I scared up a large snake which vanished quickly and this juvenile alligator that was a bit less nervous.  A bit bigger than the babies - born last year I guess.
Juvenile Alligator
And finally I got to the baby gators.  Too big to be newly hatched but not all that old.  Not as cute as baby ground squirrels I guess and I'm also guessing this diary won't be quite as popular.
Young alligator

"Green Diary Rescue" is Back!

After a hiatus of over 1 1/2 years, Meteor Blades has revived his excellent series.  As MB explained, this weekly diary is a "round-up with excerpts and links... of the hard work so many Kossacks put into bringing matters of environmental concern to the community... I'll be starting out with some commentary of my own on an issue related to the environment, a word I take in its broadest meaning."

"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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