Shark Valley Birding

Red-Shouldered Hawk_EvergladesNP-FL_LAH_5107-001My camera was aimed at a Red-shouldered Hawk perched high in a tree, diligently preening its tail feathers. The angle was awkward—too far and the bird was a mere speck in the picture, too close and I was looking at the bird from below. I slowly backed up, trying to fill the frame and still capture the action. Intent on getting the shot, I stumbled over something behind me, and turned to see what was blocking my way. Oops! I’d tripped over an alligator!

Lucky for me, it was a relatively small alligator, perhaps six or seven feet long, and sound asleep in the warm sunshine. As my adrenalin levels receded, I made a mental note to pay more attention to my surroundings. After all, I was birding in the Everglades!