Fish Eagles, Alligator Encounter & Deer

View of fish eagle nest and Casita from water

[On edit, Peggy, of Camping Tales, identified the “fish eagles” for me as ospreys.]

We started our day with a sweet little worship service at the picnic pavilion.  Two brothers have been coming here on Sunday mornings for the past 16 years to provide this service for campers.   We sang some of our favorite songs, then one of the brothers gave a talk on the passage in Ecclesiastes, to every thing there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.  He tied it into the good and bad seasons in all of our lives and how they are appointed by God for specific purposes — the good times for joy, and the bad times to develop different aspects of our character.

This looks like gator habitat!

After the service, I took Sunny and Sheba for a walk.  I usually head for the clear water near our campsite.  But this morning I wanted to see different scenery.  I came to a little canal that borders Sandy Creek.  It was loaded with water vegetation and I thought, This looks like alligator habitat.

I was very hesitant to allow Sheba in the water, but she was determined she was going in.  I spotted a small area free of vegetation, and kept an eagle eye on her.  Then I saw it.  A small alligator (about 3-1/2

Young alligator on the edge of the canal

feet) was swimming directly toward Sheba — fast!  I yanked her out of the water and ran up the bank, hoping the gator wouldn’t follow us.  It didn’t.  WHEW!

Lesson to self:  If it looks like gator habitat, it probably IS gator habitat!

Closeup of alligator’s head

Later, dogs safely penned at the campsite, I went back to see if I could find the gator and photograph him.  I found it in the grass on the bank of the canal.

Both parents on the nest

Later a neighbor saw me straining to get a shot of a large nest in one of the cypress trees growing out in the water.  He asked if we would like to go out in his boat to get a closer view of it — and he said that there were also other nests out on a nearby cypress island.

I asked him what kind of birds they were, and he answered “fish eagles.”  I have never heard of them before, and am guessing that it’s a local name for them.

The pontoon boat ride was incredible.  How amazing to be in the wind on the water — in the shade!  Ken and Sharon took us past the best nesting areas and explained how the main body of water is about 20 feet deep, but the cypress tree islands grow up in about 3 feet of water.

Fish eagle nest on cypress island

One nest actually had young in it, but I was unable to get a picture of them.  I also saw one large gray and white speckled egg in another nest, but couldn’t focus my camera properly to photograph it.

As if all those fantastic photo opportunities weren’t enough, this afternoon I saw two deer across the canal near our Casita.  One was in the water.  The other was deeper in the underbrush.

One parent flying away

This was one of those days that will live in my memory as a highlight of this camping year.

Deer in the water

Deer in the underbrush

Ken and Sharon and their boat


  1. Cam

     /  May 20, 2012

    Jeezy louisie stay away from those alligators!


  2. Yeah…. I have to say that just watching for gators doesn’t do it. They can be underwater, and see the dog’s legs and come up fast to them. There is something about dogs, I don’t know if they can smell them or what. Also, keep in mind that we are in alligator breeding season right now, so they are crazy. It’s just pretty much a Florida fact that you need to keep dogs OUT of all water except those cold little streams that rush over rocks! Even walking along the bank is a risk for dogs, particularly those the size of both of your dogs. It’s a good thing that you are figuring this out now instead of learning from tragic experience!

    BTW, I loved Cotton Hill when I was there!


    • Peggy, I was pretty overconfident until today. I didn’t even let Sheba in the “safe” part of the water when I walked her later.

      I am thrilled with Cotton Hill — especially since the COEs farther north in Georgia are closed in the winter, and this one is open all year. We’ll be back!


  3. Oh, PS — that “fish eagle” is an osprey!


    • Peggy, I asked if they were ospreys but the guy didn’t know them by that name. Thanks so much!!!


  4. OH what great pictures.
    Please don’t feed the gators.
    I used the crock pot recipe today and really cut it back. I used ground italain flavored turkey. Didn’t use any of the other meats. I used lots of other veggies instead. Maybe later on donw the line I will try the other meats. BTW it was really good.


  5. kathynik

     /  May 21, 2012

    I wondered how you got that shot from the water! Such neat adventures, but I can’t believe you went back to look for the alligator to photograph it! I’d be running the other way! ( National Geographic might contact you!) Can the alligators come near the Casita? That would pretty much freak me out! The deer and osprey photos are excellent!


    • Kathy, it would be unusual for such a small alligator to attack a human. If it had been bigger, I would have proceeded with a lot more caution. Alligators generally stay near the water and leave the campsite area alone.

      If they came up near the campers, that would freak me out, too!!!


  6. Great pics. Yep, gators love little dogs. Better keep her on a short leash when near the water. Looks like yal’ are having a good trip. Keep up the good times….jc


    • I’m a lot more wary of gators now. I think I’ll get Sheba a kiddie pool when we get home.

      We have two more nights here. Will do our best to keep up the good times! 🙂


  7. Marcia

     /  May 21, 2012

    I’m new to your blog and as a Casita owner, I’m especially enjoying it. Glad you spotted that gator! And yes, in some places osprey are called fish hawks or fish eagles. What a beautiful area you are camping in.


    • Marcia,welcome to the blog. Glad to “meet” another Casita owner! I love to follow other Casita blogs, too. It’s so much fun to see pictures of our little white eggs and their owners out enjoying beautiful, interesting places. We seem to have a slightly different approach to camping than the big rig crowd. 🙂

      I remember hearing the term “fish hawk” but had never heard “fish eagle” before.


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