Be Careful Where You Step!

No one owns the land or water,

But some require respect.

From trespassers.

Those who wander inside,

Must watch their step.

As eyes are watching from,


It never seems that my wife and I get into any real trouble, but when we are in unfamiliar territory, we can find it. Approaching a large rookery, you can get distracted by all the birds. I mean noisy with so many assorted colors of feathers and fluffs, you just cannot do anything but start snapping the pictures.

However, if you are snapping a picture, you are watching the bird, you do not notice that something is also watching the same bird. In all the excitement, one does not always notice the things around you when you are after that great shot.

I turned around to see my wife trying to get into this bush to get a better shot of the bird.  Out of the corner of my, eye, I see this young gator moving slowly toward the bird in the same bush. He is a youngster, but the teeth are all there, he is heading toward either the bird or my wife.

In the wild, they say if you are going to be attacked make yourself very large in any viable way you can.  So, frantically, I threw up my arms and started toward the gator, hollering and stretching my arms and waving them.

I yelled “Deb, get the heck out of the bush, you got company.  She jumped from the bush and the gator went for the bird, missed it, and disappeared into the water. 

This area was a good example of predatory animals and their prey. 

The rookery is a location where birds gather to breed. There is ample vegetation for nesting and water is nearby for catching and fishing for food. The vegetation is also producing seed. Some birds eat seeds. Many of the birds in this rookery were consumers of fish, or frogs, and small snakes. We also noticed a hawk which is a predator of small birds and rodents. Of course, there is the alligator which preys on just about any animal they catch.

It’s a very active ecosystem.


Sometimes we forget that the top predator might not be humankind. When put back into the food chain in the proper conditions, we can become the prey. Our ability to make tools and solve problems has given us the edge to exist in just about any ecosystem. We have medicine to help us keep healthy and have learned to grow our own food. However, we must not error in thinking we are immortal, for the smallest of organisms can quickly humble us.

Oh, when in Florida wilds, watch out for those alligators. Just be careful where you step.

Published byJohn Larabee

John Larabee received his Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1973 and his Master Degree in Mathematics and Science Education in 1983, both from Ohio University. He began teaching in 1973 and finished 35 years of teaching in elementary and Junior High English, Science, and Mathematics prior to his retirement in 2008. During his years in the classroom, John developed innovative ways to assist student learning through the development of creative, interactive science units and attention to each student's unique learning style.

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