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During a trip to Orlando last month I got this shot of a Great Egret riding across a pond on the back of an alligator. This particular location called Gatorland is a tourist attraction that features lots of alligators. However, it also features a free-flight aviary and breeding marsh (none of the birds are captive) that is unbelievable for bird photography. The birds build their nests in the trees that surround the large alligator pond, as they know that the predators that would normally go after their eggs won’t go through the alligators to get to the nests. Park visitors are able to walk around a long boardwalk that surrounds the ponds and marsh, and can get extremely close to a wide variety of interesting birds. As a result, it is an ideal location for close-up bird photography.
Additionally, since the alligators are fed regularly by the park employees, the birds don’t worry too much about becoming a snack for a gator. This explains why the Great Egret in the photo isn’t too concerned about the gator who’s back it is riding on!
More photos of interesting Florida birds to come in future posts.