ALLIGATORS AT BRAZOS BEND STATE PARK page 4
This page was born 4/07/2002.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update:  4/29/2002
Images and contents on this page copyright © 2002 Richard M. Dashnau

 Here are my other alligator pages:                  OR,  FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1    Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 2    Spiders at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 5
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 6
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 7

This is page 4 of my continuing observations of alligators ( and some other animals) at Brazos Bend State Park.
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February 21, 2002  I got a chance to get out to the park today. Since it was a weekday, it was quiet. The alligators were out. I was walking down 40 Acre lake trail, when I walked past a clearance in the wild rice growing along the shore.  There was a large alligator swimming straight towards my position!  This is not uncommon, as the spot is great for basking. Other picture I have on the alligators pages were taken at the same spot.  So, I moved a little way down the path, and waited with my video camera on. The alligator stopped just offshore, and then moved up on the bank. I was able to get him on video. See clip one for this activity. (flv video, no sound, 920kb) I walked past him a little, and then took a short clip of him basking on the shore. The  picture below (gatorface) is taken from that footage. See clip two for the edited footage. (flv video, no sound, 438kb)
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  -------------------------------Gatorface---   ------------------DON'T EVER TRY THIS.------           ---
March 3, 2002   Back sometime in November of 2001 (I think) we built a new bridge over a section of the Pilant Slough trail at Brazos Bend Park. The main reason we built this bridge was because there was a path between two bodies of water that was being eroded away by a large alligator passing back and forth between them.   This alligator had worn down the sides of the path at this point until there was only about 3 feet of dry space to walk on. The bridge was put over this area-and dug out underneath it-to allow the path to remain wide, and to allow the alligator to pass under the path. Today, as I was walking the trail, I saw the footprints shown in the large shot (footprints with quarter).  There was also an impressive drag path, with a flattened area in the mud. The round object in the picture (to the left of the larger print) is a quarter. These were large footprints. Click here to see a larger version of the picture.  While returning later in the afternoon, I took another shot of these prints (click on the image to see it larger):

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-    ---Footrprints with quarter-----------Footrprints again.----------------cold turtle---------------------cold 'gator
One further note:  When I left the Visitor's  Center to go onto the trail at about 12:30, it was about 33 degrees outside, with a brisk wind.  It was cold!  In spite of the cold, I saw these two outside! (Cold Turtle, Cold 'Gator above). As we looked at each other, I imagined that we each had the same thought;  specifically: "What is that IDIOT doing out in this weather?"

March 17, 2002  Boy, where do I start? What a cool day! For now, I'll just describe the rickubiscam shot for today.  Another alligator (probably the same one) was up on the 40 acre lake trail. I was required to ask it to move. This time, a visitor was able to film some of this. Sometime later (I spent at least an hour staying near the alligator after it had moved the first time) I needed to move on, so I asked it to move again. I asked it to move. DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO DO THIS! I WORK AT THE PARK, AND HAVE STUDIED ALLIGATOR BEHAVIOR. IT IS DANGEROUS, AND ALSO ILLEGAL, TO BOTHER ALLIGATORS  (OR ANY OTHER ANIMALS) AT A STATE OR NATIONAL PARK!  To see a video clip of  me near the alligator, click the two following links. Part 1.  (flv video 1,095 kb) Part 2 (flv video 1,171kb) Or, click the old rickubiscam shot, (DON'T EVER TRY THIS, ABOVE) just to see it larger.

March 24, 2002   I got to the park a little early. I wanted to try to hear some alligator bellowing. I've been reading  Social Signals of Adult American Alligators,  by Leslie Garrick, Jeffrey Lang, and Harold Herzog (Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History NY, 1978). It has some interesting information. Bellowing time starts during March, and extends through June. From other facts in this source, I was able to make a reasonable guess about the places at the park where alligators might want to bellow. I was just coming out of a trail nicknamed "Spillway Trail", onto the Elm Lake trail, when I noticed this (tail arch, below).  Later, I paced off how far away this was from where I was standing, and it was 50 paces. These two were right next to the trail...about 3 feet away from it. (double trees, below).
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--------------------------TAIL ARCH------------ BY THE DOUBLE TREES-----------A BELLOW-----    --
I stopped, since I didn't want to disturb whatever the alligators intended to do. The alligators seemed to be about the same size. I used the video camera to zoom in on their activity. Then, I began to take a few pictures with a digital still camera, and as I was looking through that, I saw first bellow (a bellow, above). I quickly grabbed my video camera again, and began filming.  I was able to film most of this, although I had to move once.  I was really happy about this, until I got home and tried to edit the video. The microphone on the camera isn't designed to pick up on something 50 yards away. However, I was able to edit the sound somewhat, and amplify it so that the bellowing can be heard.  You'll still have to turn up the sound to hear the bellowing in this clip.  Click here(flv video 1,830 kb) to see and hear a part of the clip. I noticed that some other alligators joined this one, making a "chorus".  After this alligator's "bout" (series of bellows), the one in front moved away, turning from the shore and swimming out past the other alligator. They had been sort of parallel to each other, with one a bit in front. Both alligators were in "head lift/tail arched" position at the beginning of the bout.  Both were facing the shore through the entire bout. The forward animal was hard to see from my position and I was unable to tell for sure if it was also bellowing. Females do bellow, sometimes.  I was very happy about seeing this on my first attempt.  I was able to film some other alligator interactions as well, but I've rambled enough for now.

March 31, 2002   If you want to go to Brazos Bend State Park, and you want to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, then do not come on Easter Sunday.  That's all I can say about that without annoying someone.
We'd had a storm (with tornados within a mile or so!) Saturday, and a few trees needed to be moved from the trails.
I spent most of the day on the trails, making sure that noone molested our animals.  Making this interesting was a large number of small (around 2 feet long) alligators that were staying near the trail. I remained near one of these for a few hours, as it moved along, and fed on small fish. Then, it decided to come out onto the bank; right near me. So I took advantage of the photo opportunity (young hunter, below). I keep most images on my pages at 320 x 240 to allow faster page loading. I know I lose some clarity because of this. I mention this because the closeup shows very clearly the sense organs that an alligator has on its skin. These are called "ISOs" or "Integumentary Sense Organs" and are thought to aid the alligator in sensing pressure differences in the water;  for instance, when prey might swim within striking distance. These are located, in alligators, along the lower jaw, and in a small zone along the upper lip. Click on either of the images below (ISO1; ISO2) to see a better view. The ISOs are the tiny dots visible on the skin.
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-----------------YOUNG HUNTER--------------ISO1----------------------ISO2
Eventually, as various groups of people arrived and departed, my little friend decided it was going to cross the trail, and just got up and walked--right past a small group of people scattered nearby. This was either very brave, or really foolish. Click here to see a small video clip (flv video, 525 kb) of this alligator crossing the trail. This also brings up another point. In a hatching of 60 alligators (a nest can have between 20 and 60 eggs), only one alligator will survive 3 years. Alligators are born at or near the bottom of the food chain. However, if they survive to adulthood, they can end up at the top. Payback time? You bet!

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If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:

Brazos Bend State Park   The main page.

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer's Page  The volunteer's main page.
 

Here are a few links to more information on alligators. There's a LOT of it out there. The reason is, of course, that ALLIGATORS KICK ASS!

    Adam Britton's Pages 1

    Adam Britton's Pages 2

    Fish and Wildlife Page (Text)

    Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species

My other alligator pages:                                       OR,  FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1     Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 2    Spiders at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 5
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 6
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 7

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