We are very lucky to be living on the edge of the Everglades on a lake that attracts a stream of wildlife visitors. These captures are all from either my backyard or the immediate neighborhood,which I define as within bicycle distance.

The bear! This fellow was quite a surprise. He came out of the woods behind me as I was photographing the eagle’s nest and sauntered up the sidewalk, then across the street, walking along the fence until in one deft move, he went under the fence and continued on his way. I’ve never been so close to a bear before and my photographer sense kicked in before good sense. Bears can run 35 miles per hour, or so I’ve heard. Faster than me. Thankfully, he seemed completed disinterested in a human snack.

The Eagles of Mockingbird Crossing. We are very lucky to have a Bald Eagle family nearby. I’ve been photographing them since we moved here.  Last year (2019) was a barren one for the couple, perhaps because of all the construction going on around them, but this year they produced a beautiful baby eaglet. On April 10, 2020 I saw the eaglet take her first little flight, an amazing moment to witness.

An unlucky young alligator became prey for a larger ‘gator right in front of me. I had noticed some neighbors looking into the lake and, assuming they saw a ‘gator, I grabbed my camera. As I stepped into the backyard, I startled the smaller ‘gator that I had not noticed and he scrambled into the lake. Unfortunately, this attracted the attention of the big one and he seized his opportunity. Yes, all my fault and I did feel badly about it. Nature is remorseless but not cruel. As I learned, if an alligator’s normal food supply is limited they will eat smaller alligators. It’s a matter of survival.

Birds of a seemingly endless variety inhabit this area, some of which truly are odd and others simply beautiful. Actually, I think even the odd ones are beautiful in their own way.

We had a Bald Eagle couple in the neighborhood for the Fall through early winter, then they moved on. At one point, a third eagle moved in resulting in a furious aerial battle!

Our little lake has enough fish to inspire Least Terns and Osprey to fish. I love to watch both. The Terns dart around at high speed before making their completely vertical dive. The Osprey hover, move, hover some more, until they spot a fish below the surface and begin their sharp dive. I’ve captured Osprey with fish before, but not in our lake as yet.

Dive Bomber!

Shake it off!

Turtles, snakes (I’ve only seen one of those so far) and, of course, gators are all part of the ‘hood.

Birds! Lots of different birds visit my backyard…Great Blue Heron,Tri-Colored Heron, Black-Crowned Heron,White Ibis,Great Egret, Cattle Egret,Anhinga,Wood Stork Least Tern,Osprey, Crow,Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker,Bald Eagles,Night Heron, Red-Shouldered Hawk, and many more have paid a visit. It’s a seemingly endless parade.

The fun doesn’t stop with wild animals. We also have a neighborhood cattle ranch!

Swallow-tailed Kite. April 7, 2019 First I’ve ever seen. These birds eat on the wing, in this case what appeared to be a baby bird snatched from a nest. Nature is remorseless but never cruel.

This mother and child were scared into our neighborhood by smoky fires further into the woods. We sometimes think animals are not sentient beings, but simply observing animals makes it plain that they care deeply about the welfare of their offspring. A mother is a mother, doesn’t matter human or animal.

The ‘gator in the above left image lives in our lake. He’s gotten big enough to be considered a “nuisance alligator”, meaning he could remove a limb (although they generally keep away from humans and alligator attacks are very rare). He will probably be trapped, which means killed unfortunately, not relocated. So far he’s eluded the authorities. I surely don’t want to stumbled over him in the night, but I’m sort of rooting for him.The dolphin was not in our lake, of course, but rather swimming off the Naples Pier. Technically, this meets my “neighborhood” description because I could ride my bike there- it would be a long ride – but in truth I drove.