Reader’s wildlife videos

We haven’t heard from Tara Tanaka in a while, as she’s been traveling and off the grid. But I found that she’s posted several wonderful wildlife videos, three of which I reproduce here (along with her notes, which I’ve indented) with her permission. The first two videos are orchestrated with classical music.

Tara’s Vimeo site is here, and her Flickr site for photography is here.

Be sure to enlarge the videos. The notes to “Nature in 4K with the Panasonic S1R,” which has wonderful shots and also DUCKS:

I’ve had the S1R for two weeks now, and wanted to share some of the wildlife I’ve captured with this incredible camera. I shoot both photos and videos, and really wanted the high-resolution of the S1R for photos, and didn’t know if I was losing video capability by choosing it over the S1. I’m stunned by the quality of the video out of this camera. All of this video was shot with my ancient Nikon 300mm using a dumb adapter and manual focus.

This one comes from St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. I wonder how the osprey manages to scratch its head without drawing blood. (Be sure to see the postprandial poop.) And there’s a lovely wild bobcat (which sprays) at 1:53.

All of this footage was shot in January 2019, except for the Flamingo which was shot two months earlier. The refuge is officially closed due to the government shutdown, but the wildlife appears not to notice and I was fortunate to have opportunities to capture unusually close footage of an Osprey and bobcat. All of this footage was digiscoped except for the last two clips.

And I love this one because the baby gators are so cute!

Yesterday afternoon my husband was headed out the narrow little dike that extends from our yard into the swamp to trim the maiden cane at the end. He got about halfway out, when “the end of the dike exploded.” He saw what we think is our biggest gator – which we have always assumed was a male – splash into the water and then turn and face the dike — only about 10’ away. He heard baby gators making their characteristic little grunts, and realized why the gator wasn’t leaving. I went out to shoot video, and while I was focusing on her head, saw a tiny little head pop up near her from under the duckweed, and soon there was another. She crawled back in the maiden cane on the dike, and soon I saw more and more baby gators in the water. I went out last night and videoed many little eyes in the area. This morning she was still on the dike, so I set up a video camera and let it run, and this is from that video.

3/4 Update: I’ve now counted at least 20 babies, and the family is still in the same spot, only about 75′ from the yard. I’ve also seen the much larger male on ‘gator island’ while I could see the mother gator, so despite her very large size, she is not nearly the largest gator in our swamp.

28 Comments

  1. David Evans
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I love that first video. Was it handheld or on a tripod?

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Thank you David. I shoot 99.9% of the time on a video tripod.

  2. Posted April 23, 2019 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Raise mandible from floor.
    These are simply stunning. The only objectionable thing is that they are over too soon.

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Mark – I’m so glad you enjoy them so much.

  3. Posted April 23, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Love the baby gators. Made me smile eating breakfast.

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Kevin. When “Mama” was away one day a Great Egret came and had two of her babies for lunch…

  4. Debbie Coplan
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    All videos were so exciting to watch. I am now ready to face the day! I loved seeing that bobcat.
    Thanks so much !

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      I’ve had so many people tell me how these nature videos help them feel more balanced – it’s very rewarding to know.

  5. Glenda Palmer
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing the videos and comments with us. I enjoyed these so much with moving coffee.

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Glenda for letting me know – I make them for you and others who appreciate nature.

  6. Mark R.
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Vibrant and entertaining videos. Thanks! I didn’t know gators laid so many eggs. Hopefully they’ll move on as to not fill up your pond with 20+ gators!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 23, 2019 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      You got me thinking. Looking around the ‘net it seems Mum has a small permanent territory & will protect her hatchlings for a few months to a year [one site says 3 years which seems strange to me!] & then the mini-monsters are on their own & must find other territory. They are prey to other alligators from day 1 & I assume Mum will start to eat her previous brood when the new ones hatch.

      I assume Mum can’t tell her own kids from others, but she perhaps has a rule not to eat the littlest, youngest monsters in her territory, but any ones bigger than her current brood are lunch if she can catch them. There doesn’t seem to be much info on this subject other than 6% to 7% of alligators in one study were food for other alligators [based on tags in the diner’s stomach & no info re relationship between diner & meal].

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Without them we couldn’t have the rookery of close to 300 Wood Stork nests this year as well as about 30 Great Egret nests, since the raccoons would predate the nests. Our big bull gator is “scary big” and “Mama” is even more of a threat being so close to the yard and protective, but I keep an eye out when I’m near her nursery. My guess is that a “reasonable” number will survive.

      • Mark R.
        Posted April 23, 2019 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        Evolved dinosaurs eating their ancestors…nature is as strange as temporal mechanics.

        • Posted April 24, 2019 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          When I saw the Great Egret eat one and leave with a second baby gator, I wondered what other pairs of species both predate the other…

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Mark. I think they lay about 40 eggs – I think she must be a good mother, despite letting a Great Egret eat two of them while she was gone.

  7. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Tara

    Video 1, time 1:52, location Florida? [the notes don’t say where]

    I had no idea there was thistle native to Florida until this video – I suppose from searching this is Purple Thistle.

    All three videos are so well shot & crafted. Impressive!

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Michael. That was shot at Kissimmee Prairie State Preserve (FL), as were about half of the other clips. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and you almost have to camp to go there, and you DO have to camp if you want to be there at sunrise and sunset.

  8. Posted April 23, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Crocodylians are cute as babies. As adults, not so much.

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      I think they’re a lot smarter than people give them credit for.

  9. rickflick
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful shots Tara. Nice crisp images.

  10. Posted April 23, 2019 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Your work is breathtaking, Tara! Do you think the bobcat was aware of your presence? S/he kept looking towards the camera.

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Thank you SP! Yes, she had her eyes locked on me – it was very intimidating.

  11. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic images as usual. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, but am always surprised at how much ‘wilderness’ there is on the East coast of the US. I was intrigued at the maternal care shown by the alligator since I’d assumed that the salt-water crocodile laid it’s eggs and left them and the hatchlings to look after themselves. So I did some googling and find the Crocodylus porosus is similarly maternal and transfers its young from the nest to the sea! So thank you for both the videos and for correcting my misconceptions.

    • Posted April 23, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Barbara. She is very protective.

  12. Stephen Barnard
    Posted April 23, 2019 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff, Tara. You must have some lunker largemouth bass in that swamp. And bluegills and catfish, maybe gar, and who knows what? Alligators have to eat.

    • Posted April 24, 2019 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Thanks Steve. We have catfish and crappie, I’m pretty sure we have largemouth bass, we’ve seen baby gar, and the gators have a taste for large turtles. I found giant headless snapping turtle, and saw the mother gator with a very large softshell recently. I wouldn’t know it if I hadn’t seen birds with them, but we have a large population of salamanders – including giant sirens – and crayfish.


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