Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hillsborough River State Park

Just in case there was any doubt whether there are alligators here.
I reserved a few days at Hillsborough State Park north of Tampa to coincide with a doctor's appointment in Tampa and for time to visit family.
Unfortunately, only my daughter, Heather, and son-in-law, John were able to come over on Saturday, so the grandkids missed out on the fun. First we hiked the Rapids Trail along the river.
 Big cypress trees grow beside the river, and lots of little knees.
 We saw some gators from the trail.
You can see from their T-shirts they are a house divided…John a FL State Seminole Fan, and Heather a different kind of Gator.
 The campground was full of kids today…mostly cub scouts, but these were older.
 The river rapids.
 Some birds…Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron, White Ibis, and a turtle on the log.
 Gnarly roots.
Since the weather was nice, we decided to paddle the river. John and Heather rented a canoe.
 And I used my kayoo.
 Did we see gators? You bet!
 This is a mama gator. How do I know?
'Cause she was guarding some babies nearby. Young alligators remain in the area where they are hatched and where they are protected by their mother for two to three years.
 Heather was the best wildlife spotter on this trip.
 I would have missed this Banded Water Snake if she hadn't pointed it out. They are harmless.
We passed outside the boundary of the state park.
 Entering a county park.
This baby turtle was only about 3 inches in diameter.
 The water is very calm with little current.
 One of God's flower arrangements in a tree.

 Some large turtles.
 Elephant Ears growing along the river bank.
 They had a two hour limit on their rental, so we turned around.

 Some fun facts about alligators: Alligators mate in early May, and the female lays 35 to 50 eggs in late June or early July.
 The babies hatch in late August or early September.
 Newly hatched alligators live in small groups called "pods."
 Heather found this pod on our return trip. 
At first they looked like roots on the bank. We estimate there were about 30 visible along the bank and at the edge of the grass.
 Newly hatched alligators have yellow bands and measure about 6 to 8 inches.  
These are probably about two months old. Eighty percent of these will fall victim to predators before they are four feet long. They grow about a foot a year.
American alligators may live to about 50 years in the wild. 
So that's my alligator tale/tail.


  1. You find the most interesting places to stay.

  2. Liz -

    I live in Florida but I learn new stuff from your blogs all of the time. Awesome!!


  3. Don't ever remember seeing so many little gators all together. Very interesting. Seems hard to believe they get taken out by predators when they are little as they become the predators.


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