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#NotesFromTheRiver - A Whiter Shade of Pale


Leucistic American Alligator
World's Rarest Reptile?

Finally! The post I've been most eager to share with you! Today, we are going to talk about white alligators, and the fact that they are not all the same. Oh, no. There are two quite different forms of white American alligators. Albino and leucistic. Both are very, very rare, indeed, but by far the most rare alligator (and probably the most rare reptile) in the world is the leucistic form of the American alligator, just like the one pictured above. What makes albino and leucistic alligators different from each other? So glad you asked, because that's what I'm going to endeavor to explain today. As I say, the alligator at the top of this page is a leucistic American alligator. The picture below is an albino American alligator.


Albino American Alligator

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#NotesFromTheRiver - Only In Florida: Alligators Part 2

The Ol' Swimmin' Hole, Florida Style 

Hi, Everyone! Yep, I'm back with the next post in my series about alligators. Figured we'd have a few laughs this week . . . or gasps, depending on your point of view. Here are a couple of "Only In Florida" photos. Yes, I know American alligators range much farther north/northwest than Florida, but something tells me, most, if not all of these pictures were taken down here. Enjoy!

You'd probably expect to see alligators like this when you visit the Sunshine State.


Or even like this, just hangin' out on the river.
(Photo by Doug Little)

Speed Bumps: We do them differently here.
If you live in Florida, you have to be prepared for the unexpected traffic hazard.
Like the occasional sunbathing alligator, soaking up rays from above, and heat from the pavement.
(Hint: I'd drive around this one, if I were you.) 

And I'd also swing wide around this mama and her babies, or as we call 'em,
Florida ducklings.

And honestly, you might want to take up another sport.
One hardly ever sees gators on a basketball court.

Mostly, I'd advise yielding the right of way to alligators pretty much all the time.


Like Here . . .

And definitely here . . .

And even HERE. (Yes, I know it's your driveway, but do you really want to argue with him?)
Just be very careful when the doorbell rings!

"Ding-dong. Avon calling. Honest."

"Open the door, I said!"

"Be that way, then. I'll just wait right here, shall I? You've got to open the door some time."

"In the meantime, don't think any other salespeople are getting by me!"

"Wait! What if I go around back? There's got to be another way in."

"Rats. This isn't working. Guess I'll just try the neighbors."

"Well, heck. Neighbors didn't answer the door, either.  Might as well head back to the pond,
and see if the anyone else has a better idea."

And it looks like they did!

Okay, folks. That's about as much silliness as any of us needs for one afternoon.
Next week, those precious little alligator babies I talked about last time, and lots of good gator trivia of a more serious nature.

Until then, keep on looking up, but now and then, look down, too. You never know what might be at your feet.
I'm just sayin' . . .



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#NotesFromTheRiver - The Gators and I Are Back. Somewhat.


Hello, Friends! I'm happy to report that I'm officially allowed to do a wee bit of work each day, as I progress (slower than a turtle in a mud puddle) toward full recovery. Believe me when I say I wouldn't wish this bug on anyone. Okay, maybe there IS that one guy . . . he knows who he is . . . but other than HIM, nobody else. It's been weeks since I've been able to do more than cough, blow my nose, and moan and groan. (Might as well go for broke when you're that miserable, I always say.) But the good news is, I can spend a few short periods of time at my computer again, so I wanted to touch base with you folks, before you forget all about #NotesFromTheRiver.

On my last real post, I focused on the differences between the American alligator and the American crocodile. Starting next week, I'll be giving you a lot more information on alligators, since they are the reptile most associated with Florida, and very, very common in the St. Johns River Basin area. Along with some excellent photography (much of which will be pictures Doug Little has taken from on board the Naiad), I will be talking about the following:

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#NotesFromTheRiver - What A Croc! (Or is it?)

Gator Eats Croc!

Today, I'm starting the first of several posts on the American alligator, or Alligator mississippiensis.  Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing some fantastic photos and some interesting information that might be brand new to many of you. But the very first thing on my agenda is this: Alligators and Crocodiles are not the same animal. Nope. And I know there is some confusion about this, because I live in a state filled with alligators, and visited by tourists from many other countries who frequently refer to them as crocs. Even folks who realize gators and crocs are two different reptiles, often don't know how to tell them apart. Therefore, I thought explaining how to do so would be a good place to kick off this series. The animal above, by the way, is an alligator, not to be confused with a crocodile. The shoe above is a Croc, also not to be confused with a crocodile. Now let's get down to  some comparisons that might actually help you distinguish between these two large predators.

The Difference is Mostly in the Head

As you can tell from the above photo, the alligator on the left has a broadly rounded, duck-bill shaped nose. The crocodile on the right has a narrow, much more sharply pointed nose. For me, this has always been a dead give away (pardon the phrasing.) There are other scientific differences, and different configurations of teeth, but my motto in identifying almost anything is to look for the easiest to spot clue. I think the head shape is the one. But what if you aren't standing directly over the reptile in question, able to get a view like this? Good news. They aren't the same color, and they have different profiles, too.

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#NotesFromTheRiver - Wednesday Wonders - #wwwblogs

Sandhill Crane & Chick
(All Photos in this Post by Doug Little)

I thought it would be nice to have an occasional post featuring the best (or at least my personal favorite) photos by Doug Little. Because I think his work is wonderful, I'm going to call these special posts Wednesday Wonders. Light on narrative, but BIG on beauty. Here are today's first Wednesday Wonders. Enjoy. And, as always, all comments are appreciated, and all questions will be answered, to the best of my ability. 

Florida Black Bear Napping on the Banks of the St. Johns River

Tri-colored Heron (Background) and Little Blue Heron (Foreground)

Honkin' Big Ol' Gator Snoozin' on the Shore

Bald Eagle, Keeping Watch

Purple Gallinule 

Purple Gallinule Chick (Note the huge feet, designed for walking on lily pads.)

Buddies? Only Until Dinnertime. 

Absolutely Stunning Photo of a Wild Turkey

A Happy Meal for the Great Blue Heron. Not So Much for the Wee Fishie.

And there you have our first Wednesday Wonders post. You, too, can see these lovely birds and animals, and take your own fabulous photos. Just come on down to Highbanks Marina, in DeBary, Florida, and book a tour aboard the Naiad. Best two hours you can spend in all of central Florida, I promise! Book your reservation right here on this website. You'll be glad you did.

See you next week with a new #NotesFromTheRiver!

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#NotesFromTheRiver - Meet the Author Eco Tour, January 14, 2017

Captain Dooley keeps an eye out for last minute arrivals.

One of the best things about becoming a writer, besides all the havoc I get to wreak in my characters' lives, is finding opportunities to get out and meet new readers, at various events around central Florida. And none of the lovely events I've done, from slide shows, to afternoon teas, to chatting with local book clubs, is more fun than an afternoon with St. Johns River Eco Tours. Saturday, January 14, was just such a day. I've been lucky enough to go out on the Naiad many times over the years, starting way before I wrote my first book, and it's always an exceptional event. Being invited along on a tour to do a reading from one of my books is even more fun. At least for me. Hopefully the rest of the passengers enjoy it, too. (So far, none of them have put me off the boat along the way, so I'm taking that as a good sign.)

Heading for the Open River

Both Doug and I were so busy having fun on this last trip, we didn't take any pictures. (And ONE of us is a professional wildlife photographer, too. Not mentioning any names here--Doug! ) Luckily, one of our lovely passengers took quite a few, and gave me permission to share them with you. Thank you so much, Georgia.

A Symphony in Blue and Green.

Because I was gone all day today, I'm going to focus more on visuals than text, and I hope you'll enjoy these pics enough to book a tour one day, yourself. If you've never been, you'll have to take my word for it that it's an outing that's good for the soul. There's something healing and restorative about water, whether it's the seashore, a placid lake, or the ever-flowing waters of the St. Johns, with a new vista around every bend. And just look what a gorgeous day we had! A china blue sky, with fat puffy clouds kept us company the whole tour! Lovely!

Alligator and Turtles on Palm Trunk

Alligators were out in fairly good numbers, and we spotted several medium-to-large (quite large, in one case) adults. The day was warm enough for them to be up and basking in the sun. And mostly, they pay very little attention to the tour boats, so passengers are able to get lots of good shots.

Limpkin on Branch

I know this picture isn't quite as clear as some, but I wanted to show you Georgia's picture of a limpkin, one of my favorite birds. Believe it or not, people come from all over the world to see our limpkins, as they have a very limited, though slowly expanding, range. These are handsome brown and white birds that feed primarily on apple snails, and I'll no doubt do a full post on them in the future.

Yet Another Happy Gator, Busy Ignoring Us

Talk About Strange Wildlife!

Just when you thought this post was going to be all birds, reptiles, and scenic beauty, up I pop!

Doug, Trying to Get Me to Pop Back Down Again . . .

. . . But I'm Hard to Discourage! Give me an inch, and I'll read you a prologue! 

And Did I Mention All The Alligators? (Look Hard. Another One Lurking In the Middle.) 

Alligator, or No Alligator, I Just Keep on Reading, and Answering Bookish Questions.

Doug Little Holds the Audience in the Palm of His Hand.

I've been hiking and birding in Florida almost all of my adult life, in addition to a stint working at Florida Audubon, back in the day, and I can honestly say that Doug is a true fountain of knowledge about the river, its eco-system, its wildlife, and its history. I learn something new on every single cruise, and love watching passengers soak up all that good information, too, as they watch the scenery unfold in front of them. It's the best two hours you can spend in central Florida, as far as I'm concerned, and I know every person on this particular cruise would agree. Plus, the dashing Captain Dooley is filled with interesting and informative tidbits, too, which he gladly shares along the way.

This Would Be the Aforementioned Dashing Captain Dooley, Along with the Beautiful and Gracious Georgia.

All in all, this Meet the Author cruise was one to remember! I think I can safely say every one of us learned some new and interesting stuff, and a good time was had by all. So, with that, I'm going to wrap up until next week. Hope you enjoyed this little taste of what a first-class eco tour is like. Can't wait to meet you on one.

And Now . . .

. . . See Ya Later, Alligator!
(This photo by Doug Little)



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