For 20 years this image has sat in my archive unseen, except by me. I look at it now with great satisfaction. I am better for having known these Wolves. Working on Wolf reintroduction has always been a point of personal pride in my career. Where we are now is very far from that Season of the Wolf. It seems we have learned very little in the way of living with Wolves.
Horses on the Range in Florida head for shelter as a storm builds.
Osprey is in Southern Florida. Taking flight from this dead snag to swoop down on a fish.
This Great Blue Heron hunts in the shallows of The Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach Florida. The preserve, the headwaters of the Loxahatchee River, is both sanctuary for wildlife and drinking water for the city of West Palm Beach. I was intrigued by the colors here. Both the bird and it’s surrounding landscape seem to draw from the same palette.
The close up of an Alligator making a dramatic display and the translucent quality of the teeth was really interesting to me.
This last winter was the coldest in 150 years. The animals took a big hit. Tropical fish died. The usually ubiquitous frogs and lizards are scarce. I was hiking in a local South Florida park and came across this little guy. He had sheltered himself from the wind and heat robbing ground all while getting a better angle for some sun. I shot this with my mobile phone then headed back to get my DSLR. The sun had come out from the clouds by the time I got back. Good for the frog not so good for the image making.
It was an honor to get to know these wolves. More curious than most they would watch the goings on at the sanctuary from a little mound they had in their enclosure. This is my most successful wildlife image. The first question I am asked “is that two wolves?”
It was the end of the day and I had two frames of film left in my camera. I saw that the posture of both wolves formed a repetitive pattern. Working quickly I composed the image, made the shot and with the sound of the camera shutter the wolf in the foreground turned and looked at me. Two distinct images made in less than a second. I had formed a bond with these wolves as the tours started with them so I spent much time waiting with them for people to gather. Working as a guide and photographer at the wolf sanctuary gave me perspective. Wolves are like all wild animals. They act both as unique individuals and with the shared traits of the species. They deserve respect. View them from a distance, as you would any animal. I think if people had the same attitude toward Alligators, Wolves and Bears as they did big cats there would be less conflict. No one feeds or wants to pet a Mountain Lion. One thing is certain Wolves inhabit the human imagination perhaps more than any other animal.
When you think of The Everglades you think of Alligators. Every Park is like that. The Alligator is part ambassador part indicator species. I’ve had some interesting encounters with Alligator’s. None threatening, basically animals are going about their day it’s up to the park visitors not to interfere. There is no mistaking the cat like hiss of an Alligator that has had enough. All wildlife require a personal space boundary, it’s a matter of respect and Federal Law.
The health of the park it’s self can be measured in the animals that call it home. Some of the challenges facing the ancient animal are easy to see, like enough water and habitat. Things like pesticides are invisible but deadly. The python has invaded the Everglades and found a habitat to thrive and multiply in. They have been known to attack Alligators. Bold.
For the Nature Photographer Alligators make fine subjects. They hunt from stealth so stillness is one of their hallmarks. This large adult was perfectly happy to sun himself as I shot with my 300mm.