This page was born 4/29/2002.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update:  5/21/2002
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 4
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 6
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 7

This is page 5 of my continuing observations of alligators ( and some other animals) at Brazos Bend State Park.

April 14, 2002   The morning alligator social interaction seemed to have been put off, possibly by the late morning fog at the park. However, alligators were certainly out basking. Today I  show an alligator "yawning". There has been some speculation about this behavior, but most sources I've found attribute it to a method of heat regulation using the linings of the jaws as a heat exchanger. Sometimes, though, the jaws will briefly be opened very wide, as opposed to the usual gaping position.  Click here for a small clip showing a wide yawn. (flv video, 354 kb) I asked another alligator to move off one of the trails also.
Last Thursday (April 11th) was also quite interesting. I got to see a large alligator crossing the trail (and filmed it!) click here to see the clip (flv video 395 kb), and also saw more bellowing. This time a large male was close to the trail. ( See Bellow Position, below).  I got a good clip with my video camera.  Click on 3 bellows (flv video 775 kb) to see some of it. I also took a small clip using my digital camera. This has sound. Click to see and hear another bellow. (flv video 493 kb) By the way, this clip, the "wide yawn" clip, the young alligator walking clip, and the bittern clip below were taken with this camera, an Olympus C-700. Most of the recent stills have been taken with this camera, also. Remember, I've degraded the image resolution so that they'll load faster on a wider range of internet connections. Also, I'm using a freeware version of realproducer to make the flv video clips, so the video isn't at the very best quality.
----''GATOR TRUCKIN' ---------------------THE "YAWN"-M--------------BELLOWING POSITION
April 21, 2002   Saturday, April 20, we had an Earth Day event at the park, with lots of booths, and special demonstrations. Among them was an afternoon "alligator hike" which I led.  Of course,  that afternoon the alligators decided, for the most part, to be somewhere else besides where I was supposed to take the hike.  My apologies to those who took the hike, for the relative lack of alligators.
Today (April 21st), however, the alligators were busy all day.  Among them was this small (about 4-foot long) alligator shown in this week's rickubiscam. A few of us were standing on the small bridge near the observation tower, when this alligator started moving towards us. (movie clip one flv video 865kb) I'd heard that a few other alligators had passed under this bridge, and I figured that this small one would, also. The Pilant Slough was being drained (AGAIN!) and so the alligators were moving away from there. Anyway, this alligator moved up towards us, and then stopped about 20 feet away, and looked at us. (HUMANS UP THERE?, and HMMM. YEP., below.)
It paused for a few minutes, then turned around and moved back towards the water, but it stopped before it got there, and rested as only an alligator can. It sure seemed a bit petulant to me. (movie clip two, flv video 933 kb, LET ME THINK, above.)
However, after just a few more minutes, it got up and started walking towards the right, and towards the path. It walked up the bank and into the vegetation. (movie clip 3, flv video 393 kb, I'LL GO THIS WAY, above) I just knew that it still wanted to cross over to 40 Acre Lake. So, I followed it, by walking along the path. The alligator walked for about 40 feet or so parallel to the path.
After this bit of walking, it turned towards the path. It walked up, and when its head was clear of the grass, it paused for a minute or so, looking along the path. Then, it just crossed the path. (movie clip 4, flv video 446 kb, SMUG ALLIGATOR, above).
This seems to me like the alligator knew enough about its surroundings to choose a path that allowed it to avoid us, but also allowed it to get to its destination.  This didn't appear to be aimless wandering to me.  It was aware of our presence, and attempted to avoid us.
Why did I follow this one? I always like to see them walk. I was reasonably sure this one wanted to get to the lake.
As an aside,  clip number 4 was taken with the Olympus C-700 I've mentioned before, while the other 3 were taken with a SVHS video camera, and then digitized and reformatted later. I did this because I'd intended to post the path crossing right away, and I didn't want to have to go through the extra step of digitizing the footage.

April 23, 2002   Tuesday, April 23, I was able to take a day off work and get to the park fairly early. I was certainly glad that I did. I wanted to try to get more footage, pictures, whatever, of alligator social activity. I parked near the Elm Lake picnic area and walked to where I'd seen previous instances of bellowing.  When I reached the spot (about 8:30am) , a nature photographer that is working on various projects in the park was already there. He'd been observing a large male alligator, and what he assumed was a smaller (by comparison) female foraging near a culvert drainage. This was in Pilant Lake. Across the path, and behind us (since we were facing Pilant Lake), was a large alligator in Elm Lake, close to the edge of the water. Looking at him, I was sure that he intended to cross over to where we were watching. After a period of time, during which I'd glance back at the Elm Lake alligator,  I noticed a large alligator crossing the trail about 50 yards away.  Click here(flv video 436kb, or see FIRST CROSSING, below) to see him.  Not long after that, the big one in Elm Lake did a wide gaping display. (flv video 695kb, or see GAPE DISPLAY below.) This was not related to any thermoregulatory behavior that I could see, since it was still somewhat cool.
Not too long after this display, I was looking down at the Pilant Slough, when I turned around to see the large alligator's snout about 18 inches off the ground, and nearing the edge of the trail. He had left the water and had been walking towards us when I turned around. He paused. I alerted the photographer, Philippe Henry, and we moved aside to let him pass. While the alligator passed, I filmed this footage. (flv video 857 kb. or see SECOND CROSSING, below) The  photographer in the clip is not as close as he seems.  Do NOT EVER get this close to an alligator!
----------- -------------------------
-----------FIRST CROSSING------------------- GAPE DISPLAY--------------------SECOND CROSSING
The alligator crossed and went down by the edge of the water. The larger alligator we'd been watching earlier had moved off, about 20 feet, some time earlier. Unknown to me, it had quietly come back. Evidently, its return was noted by the alligator we'd just seen cross the trail. We had just begun moving back to our previous filming positions when this alligator turned around and began climbing back out onto the trail, catching us somewhat off-guard. He paused at the edge of the trail, allowing me to take a quick snapshot, then crawled out, and then lay down right where we'd been standing. He rested there for a few minutes, and then continued across the path. I was able to get a short clip of him moving back into Elm Lake. (flv video, 517 kb, or see OOPS, HE CAME BACK!, below.)
One thing I find quite amazing is how quiet these alligators are while they are walking. This is a creature similar to a small dinosaur, sometimes around 12 feet long, and dragging its tail as it moves. Still, even on these granular paths, or while moving through undergrowth, these fascinating creatures are unnervingly silent.
 After a short rest, he swam out towards the corner of the lake, near where I'd taken previous bellowing footage. I followed the alligator, thinking that it may bellow, or that it might cross the path. It stopped near shore, and took one of the aggression display positions, which is close to the position an alligator takes before bellowing. However, perhaps because of being driven off (losing a minor conflict), instead of bellowing, he did a grunt/headslap.(flv video, 215 kb, or see BELLOW/HEADSLAP, below)  Please note that I was about 20 feet away, and you can see by the camera movement that even at that distance, the act was intimidating.
Somewhere near this time, another alligator crossed the trail (flv video, 450 kb, or see I DON'T KNOW, NICE HAT?, above) about 50 yards away. Finally, for me, anyway, the finale for the day. I'd just started watching the large alligator down in Pilant Lake, when he began to take the bellow position, and immediately began to bellow. (flv video, 1,352 kb, BIG BELLOW, above). This clip shows what I'd consider a single bout, and then he followed with one other bout. During this time, the female near him also bellowed, as well as another one about 10 yards away. After all this, I had to move on to other things that day.
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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 4
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 6
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 7

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