Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wildlife at Cypress Lakes Resort

The head, eyes and snout of a young alligator in Florida.
One of the things I like at this resort is the variety of wildlife you can see right in your backyard. I will admit to not being terribly good at grabbing the camera every time I see a new critter, and because my main camera is so heavy to carry I don't take it very often when I'm walking for exercise. I probably should :)

A white ibis with it's distinctive curved orange beak and orange feet and legs.The variety ranges widely from birds of many types, to aquatics (turtles, frogs, gators, fish, etc.) to everything in between (including deer). The first deer we saw was when we first bought the house in Florida. We were putting down red cedar shavings along the side garden when a doe and fawn poked their heads out from behind the back of the house. We stopped to watch, and after a few minutes they casually strolled out from behind the house, past the back of the neighbours house and disappeared up the grassy knoll to the forest at the end of the road.

An older, large alligator at the edge of a pond.Although we live in an area in Canada where deer and moose (and even bear) are prevalent, it's pretty rare for them to be quite as casual as this mom and her fawn. I've seen deer a few other times, but not in our yard - watching from one of the small forested areas on the golf course and each time, I've been without a camera.

Cardinal in a tree full of spanish moss.
A large sandhill crane in Cypress Lakes Resort, Lakeland Florida.Birds are probably one of the things you'll see most, and the variety is wide ranging.

From Sandhill Cranes to the large Great Blue Heron (rarer to see that one so far, though we see them frequently in Canada) to varieties of more common small birds like cardinals, sparrows and chickadees. A neighbour and friend spotted a bald eagle from her window as it landed on a shrub right in front of her. We have more than our share of wild turkeys on the park grounds, and I know I've seen a white egret, but wasn't close enough to be able to tell which of them it was (Snowy Egret, Great Egret).

A wood sandpiper with long think legs at the edge of a pond in Cypress Lakes resort, Florida.One of the pictures I managed to grab was a wood sandpiper, near the edge of a pond where a pretty large alligator was resting. It looked like an unlikely pair, but quite often the Ibis and other birds seem to lack fear of the gators - it could be the time of day or the time of year - most birds and other animals (including dogs, cats, turtles ... small humans!) can be considered prey for gators (see "Living with Alligators - A Florida Reality")

Small Gecko with it's neck pouch puffed out.
The park is in a location that creates opportunity for wildlife of all types (found in central Florida) to find it's way to the park. Being in central Florida means being in the Green Swamp area (see this Ledger article for general info.)

Little gecko with it's tail extended sitting on a pink outdoor cushion.One of the smaller critters I've taken a liking to are these little gecko-like lizards (anole's I think it what they're called). They vary in size from tiny (the size of human newborn's baby fingernail) to ... well, even the largest I've seen isn't what I'd call
large ... the biggest is maybe about the size of a large thick crayon (without the tail measurement), while the average sized ones are a few inches long. Most of the ones I've added the photos of are averaged sizes and colours, although one has a red head, which I haven't seen very often. The colorations range from very light beige right through to dark brown (almost black).

Small gecko with it's tail extended, showing the tail is much longer than the lizard.They're a little shy if you try to touch or pick them up (they run like the dickens), but once they start getting used to you, they will get a little closer. They seem to prefer hot sunny areas; our driveway, the neighbours concrete steps; the white tubular plastic of our yard furniture when the sun is beating down on it. Occasionally, you'll see them in one of the shade trees, though it's much more difficult to spot them since they tend to match the colours of the bark very closely.

These mostly were across the table from me. Some stay put on the chairs even when I reach the chair, and I often have to "shoo" them away now in order to sit down ... sometimes they'll try to climb up one of my legs. It feels a little like having a fly land on your skin - these little lizards are very light, weighing almost nothing at all.

A small brown lizard that appears to be posing for the camera.

I'm not exactly an expert on Florida wildlife, but since we have a home there I've been reading about the critters we've run across on our walks, or ... just sitting in the backyard watching the pond. A few trips in Gator Creek Reserve have helped (so far, it's been a really dry season, so the critters aren't as prevalent ... maybe on our next visit!) to get me looking at the Florida based websites to identify those animals we have seen, and know what to watch out for.

The eyes and snout of a large alligator.

For more on central Florida wildlife (fish, animals, birds) see:

More pictures:

What appears to be a white crane-like bird - maybe an egret of some type.

Large gator in Central Florida that appears to be ... smiling!

Smaller gator in a natural pond.

A large gator with well defined spikes on the neck and back.

A large gator in a pond in central Florida.

Florida alligator swimming in pond.

A small alligator which appears to be a youth (maybe 9 or so months old) in the shallow water of a pond - his snout hovers over a fish hole.

A white Ibis walking along the water at the edge of the pond.

Wild turkeys crossing the road.

Wild turkeys gathering on a neighbour's front yard.

Tiny white frog looks so sad curled up there at the top of the wall.

White frog climbing the siding of our home to get to a sheltered corner.

A southern watersnake with it's dark brown and orange pattern.

Small brown and gray squirrel at pond's edge.

All images ©J. Gracey Stinson
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