Perils of a bad neighbor!

One of the things we rarely worry about these days are neighbors.  Having a mobile lifestyle means everything is temporary including the folks in the RV site next door, which does have its pluses and minuses.   We enjoyed great neighbors at the RV Park in Phoenix this past fall, and we lucked out parking next to equally fun neighbors for the month of January here in Rockport, Texas.Copano Bay

A recent visit to my favorite birding center reminded me that not everyone or everything is as fortunate.  We’ve all heard stories about feuding neighbors, but what about living next door to a Hannibal Lector?  I’d imagine that to be scary AND dangerous.  Just ask Connie the Common Gallinule.  There she was, strolling the neighborhood in search of veggies, fish, or whatever when she saw movement in the water.


Common Gallinule

He’s got his eye on the prize!

AlligatorInitially she didn’t seem concerned, and continued about her business of foraging the neighborhood for food.  I stood on the boardwalk watching as Mr. Alligator slowly crawled out of the watering inching his way closer to Connie.  Concerned I was going to watch the circle of life unfold in front of me, my heart started beating as I softly said out loud, “run, little birdie, run”.

Common Gallinule

Fortunately, she caught on to Hannibal Alligator and high tailed it outta there.  A couple of weeks ago, another roosting neighbor wasn’t so lucky.  A favorite with all the local photographers was this precious beauty.

I took this photo last year of everyone's favorite tri-colored heron

I took this photo last year of everyone’s favorite tri-colored heron

This sweet Tri-colored Heron liked to stroll the waters near the boardwalk.  She wasn’t bothered by all the camera clicking and attention from the observers and some even said she almost seemed tame.  She was the perfect model and beloved by all the photographers, several of which witnessed her untimely ending.  Such are the perils of living next door to a bad neighbor.  Is he bad, or merely hungry?  He looks pretty badass to me AND hungry!Alligator


A sad loss to this diverse neighborhood as Hannibal turned sweet Tri into an appetizer.  I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it.  The thought still bothers me.  The two alligators that live here at the birding center were rather active during my hour-long visit Monday morning.

Resting and watching

Resting and watching

A year ago I visited the Leonabella Turnbull birding center several times in the month of December (2014).  This year I visited mid-January (2016) and I noticed fewer birds.  Was it the time of year or were Boots and Bags to blame? (and yes, that’s what the locals named the alligators)

black-crowned night heron keeping an eye on Boots and Bags

Green Heron keeping an eye on Boots and Bags

Although my visit to the birding center didn’t provide the photographic birding experience I had hoped for, it was an interesting visit none the less ……. and I returned home in one piece with all my body parts AND my boots and bag 🙂






105 thoughts on “Perils of a bad neighbor!

    • Thank you. While laying flat on the boardwalk trying to capture the right angle, I kept thinking, “I sure hope I can get back up without falling into the water” 😆

    • I was really excited to see the gators on the move, but once they were on the move, I felt very uncomfortable. I don’t feel a need to see more gators 😉

  1. We all know about the food chain and what it means to be a carnivore. Still, better to think this kind of thing happens on the Serengeti and not in your own back yard. I, too, think you lucky not to have been around to witness the fowl deed. To begin with, an alligator’s table manners are atrocious!

    • Fortunately, I’ve never seen a gator dining and don’t think I’d like to. I’m still upset knowing he devoured the sweet tri-colored heron. Yep, I think I like playing ostrich and will pretend these things occur in the Serengeti 🙂

  2. Glad you are all in one piece. My sister gets to see them (boots and bags) on a daily basis as they are all over the golf course that she lives at in Florida. Do you remember the huge alligator that made national news and was walking on the florida golf course last year about this time. Yep, that was near her!
    Nice close ups of a not so nice creature.
    We missed you very much yesterday. But please look at both of our blogs… we post about our day.

  3. Just catching up on my blog reading, nice to read you’re having some fun adventures in TX. Last year Boots & Bags were just sunning themselves when we saw them, don’t know if I’d want to see them perform the circle of life. Enjoy the rest of your time on the Gulf Coast, while I’m loving the desert I’m missing the beach…oh well next year beach and sand.

    • We’ve had the best time here and although we thought about extending our stay, the pull of the desert (kids and friends too) is strong. We’ll be in AJ by the end of the week 🙂 In the meantime, we’re stuffing our faces with fresh shrimp and seafood.

  4. I continue to amazed by the quality and detail in your photos! What camera do you use? In our most recent blog I talk about some feuding neighbors of the two legged variety that did not turn out so well. I like your neighbors much better!

    • Thank you so much for the compliment. I am extremely happy with my Panasonic FZ-200 and it is a great every day camera. I know of two other bloggers that shoot with the same camera. Feel free to email me, if I can offer any more insight –
      eeks… the two-legged variety of neighbors arguing is the worst and that’s when Al and I walk away slowly. We experienced an incident in Q with someone wanting to pick a fight with us. We didn’t take the bait.

  5. Great photos as usual! Glad it wasn’t you with the bad neighbors.
    I understand the whole “circle of life” thing but it’s difficult to think about. That’s one of the reasons I became a vegetarian. We (people) have lots of options but the animals in the wild eat what they can. Not always an easy life.

    • As you know, it’s just a matter of time before parking next door to a bad neighbor. Thankfully we get to move on and don’t need to worry about being eaten by that carnivore neighbor 🙂

  6. Many years ago, we would visit Yellowstone regularly Near the north gate is a town that was once over run with elk. They were everywhere. Wolves had been reintroduced to the park, and they began to flourish. It had been a while since we visited Yellowstone, so we went back two years ago. What we found shocking was how thin the elk herd in the area was. We asked our host at the lodge what had happened – wolves. Wolves that were once elusive can now be spotted in the early morning near the roads, unafraid. One early morning we actually witnessed a pack of wolves take down a sickly bison. The wolves did the grunt work, then along came a grizzly that claimed the bison kill. Our guide said we were lucky to witness the circle of life – while it does happen, it generally does not happen so close to the roads. It was a sight we won’t soon forget.

    • I have mixed feelings about your tale – lucky or not to see the circle of life unfold in front of you? Those wolves are very controversial and many of the ranchers are livid about the reintroduction. I’m sure it was exciting to the wolves and the grizzly.

      • It was hard to watch – but we knew there was nothing we could do. In Wyoming, they have begun issuing hunting permits for wolves because of the problems outside the park. I was amazed by the impact the wolves have had within the park.

  7. I’ve never seen alligator in the wild but I’ve seen videos and it looks super scary. I think I would have been scared to witness that and fascinated at the same time. I love the narrative, super funny post 🙂

  8. I wished I was with you 🙂 to witness the event 🙂 But I so enjoyed your Ally story, who had a happy tummy at the end of the day.
    Your captures are excellent, especially the last two closeups of the Green Heron with the final reflection shot! Just gorgeous.

    • Not nearly as many birds this visit as there were when you and I visited. Might be the time of year. Watching the gators move around was fascinating. I had the best day yet birding today. A friend took me out on the water … can’t stop smiling 🙂

    • Thanks Sue and although I did use a telephoto lens, they weren’t that far away. I was on a raised wooden boardwalk. At one point, one of the gators moved under the boardwalk which was a little unnerving to be maybe 3-5 feet away!

  9. Oh, I agree with you — as much as I love nature, I don’t enjoy witnessing some aspects of reality. :-(( Your bird photos are wonderful, Ingrid. I especially love the Green Heron — always one of my favorites, and they’re so shy in the Pacific Northwest. I’m glad you included a tribute photo to that beautiful Tricolored Heron, too.

    • Did I tag the Heron wrong? I even got out my birding book to identify it. Tri-colored herons are so elegant and beautiful. I was hoping to photograph her again 😦 The birding hasn’t been very good this year. I wonder if a lot of them headed south or because there’s so much more water in TX that they have more options.

  10. Such amazing photos, Ingrid. I have trouble accepting the predator-prey relationship too and always want to alert the unsuspecting animals.

  11. Hello Ingrid,
    First of all the photos were beautiful as usual. Secondly, I loved the comparison to Hannibal. So sad to see your friend gone, but such is the circle of life.

  12. Ahhh yes…the circle of Life…I’m not sure if it’s true, but someone in Flamingo (where they have Crocs not Gators) told me he would rather canoe with an Alligator than a Crocodile..The Crocs are much more aggressive. Personally, I have trouble sharing my space with a Tree Frog, let alone a critter than resembles a small dinosaur!!!

    • Boy, you said that right… I’m not interested in sharing space with a small dinosaur and those gators do look and are prehistoric. I know there are differences between the crocs and gators, but they both fall into the same category in my book = badass guys! I’m happy keeping my distance 🙂

  13. Love your title too . We’ve had some pretty irritating neighbour in our long marriage. One can’t help feeling sorry for that lovely tricolor heron. I remember seeing the remains of a Great Blue floating on the water at our local nature reserve. It’s partner was standing guard over it, and looked so grief stricken. It was heartbreaking to see.

  14. You got me with the title as well, I love how you do that! I enjoyed the story. We have had some bad neighbours but never this entertaining. It would be fun to sit and watch them roam around in their habitat.

    • Thank you Charlie. I really appreciate the kind comment. Although I’m slightly disappointed with my bird photos this trip, I did manage a few nice shots making the trip a success 🙂

  15. Boots and bags is unfortunately what those neighbours may have become I guess and unattractive as they might be I hope that’s not their fate:-( You have some wonderful photos here – I love you bird photos here and in past posts.

    • Thank you, and I for one, could do without a Hannibal for a neighbor, but I’m sure those birds know to be on the lookout. And boots and bags do have big bellies to fill 😉

    • I managed to shoot the black crowned heron by lying flat on my belly on the boardwalk. I had fears of not being able to get back up without assistance or worst; having Mr. A jump up and get me. I felt solace in thinking he couldn’t jump up out of the water onto the boardwalk. Just goes to show you what I’m willing to do for the shot 😆

  16. Very clever title, Ingrid:) When I was teaching writing to my third graders, we always discussed the importance of the “hook” to capture the reader’s attention and keep them reading. You’ve done that well again:) You surprised me with who the neighbor actual was. Thank goodness that alligators only eat ever three or so months and can go as long as six months. Otherwise, I imagine the birds would disappear quickly. That black-crowned night heron is so cute. Looks like it was airbrush painted. Your final reflection photo is gorgeous:)

    • Interesting bits of knowledge on the alligators. I still remember the photos of you guys on the bike trail in FL with the gators. As much as I Google about the birds, I should’ve done the same regarding the gators. Thank you so much for the compliments. I do very little editing to my photos and do have to work hard at the writing. Writing does not come easily to me. Thus, your kind words mean a great deal to me. Enjoy those AZ trails!

      • Well, thank you for clicking again. Perhaps I’m showing up in your Reader, but you’re not getting the emails. You can double check the settings in your Reader under the ‘manage blogs’ page.

      • Yes it’s funny! When my older son was four, he told his friends that his mommy’s name was Boots. They all started laughing because it reminded them of Boots the monkey on that show Dora the Explorer.
        I am not very happy about these alligators and I hope it’s not Boots that’s taking all the birds’ lives 😖

  17. The birds have a mind of their own and just because there’s a birding center there doesn’t mean that the birds will oblige us humans. I know I made one trip to Bosque del Apache and instead of hanging out on the refuge the birds were hanging out in farmer’s fields 10 miles away. And here we have seen more egrets along the highway (even feeding in groups in the median strip much closer to traffic than one might think they would like) than we have at parks and refuges. Go figure.

    Last year at the S. Padre Island Birding Center momma gator had 4 little babies — quite often you could see her taxiing them around on her back. Was cute — but we also noted that there weren’t as many feathered friends there as in previous years. I’m guessing the birds are smarter than we give them credit for being.

    On a slightly separate topic I read recently that there has been another ocelot killed by a vehicle at Laguna Atascosa out of a very small population of big cats to begin with. They had closed off the auto tour route until plans could be made to find some subterranean route the cats might like instead of crossing the roads at car-level. This one I believe was struck on the refuge road and NOT on the auto route but in either event they are unlikely to open the auto route again until they have sussed out what to do to protect those rare cats. Sad to see the loss of access, and even sadder that people go tearing through the refuge — but good that they are doing what they can to help.

    • I had to Google ocelot…. gorgeous cats that I’d love to see in the wild. Yes, sad to see the loss of access but sometimes it’s necessary. I went to the Aransas NWR Sunday and was surprised by all the trail closures. I understand the management, but that didn’t negate my disappointment.
      Some of my best birding has been driving down the road – at times and places I least expected. Darn those birds for not informing us ahead of time 😆

      • We have not been to Aransas since before Palmdale … is the autoroute closed as well? or just individual trails? And could that be because of maintenance issues with the physical trail?

        At Laguna Atascosa they closed the autoroute early in ’15 after a car on the autoroute hit a cat. They expected to open the route at the end of ’16 after putting in culvert crossings — if they could get the cats to USE the crossings. After the second ocelot death I hear that re-opening plans are indefinitely suspended.
        I wonder if popularity is going to cause the closing of more and more Fish and Wildlife facilities? The national parks are bad enough but they have a budget to accommodate updating for human use. I’m not sure how much of a budget FWS has for such niceties. I suspect they’d rather use their funds to help the critters and lock humans out if necessary. After all, the critters are their primary objective.
        As someone who love refuges, and loves sitting alongside an autoroute on my stool with my camera on a tripod I hope not. But as my mother used to say, “Wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which you get first.”

        • The auto route was open during my visit. Some of the trails to the water or connecting platforms were closed. I’m not sure if it was due to damage or to protect wildlife/vegetation. We enjoyed our day but I don’t think I would recommend folks driving out of their way to visit this wildlife refuge.

          • I’ve been there twice and I have to say it’s not one of my favorites. I do like that tower at the S. end of the loop for a few minutes but that’s not where I’d be to really enjoy the refuge. Thanks for the info.
            There are SO MANY places in TX to bird! (as there are here in FL — we just aren’t getting to many of them this year — I guess Peg & I go in spurts about birding — this year we just seem to be doing other things)

    • Thank you Amy. I’m still trying for some sunset shots but the skies are either totally clear or thick with overcast…. waiting for some fluffy clouds 🙂

    • We enjoy the area, but I’ll admit it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Be sure and email me if you do visit the area, and I’ll fill you in on pros and cons and give you my recommendations.

  18. Oh poor Tri color. Glad Connie was smart and able to detect an unfriendly neighbor.

    You have such a way with words. I just love it.

    • Well, now you know where to find them next time you visit Port Aransas. From what the locals say, the gators seem to be showing themselves more than ever before. Perhaps they are eyeing the bigger morsels on the boardwalk!!!

  19. Great photos of an unfolding drama. I’ve never seen a black crowned night heron – pretty cool.

    Would love to see Boots and Bags creeping around, but I sure wouldn’t want to see feeding time.

    • This was the first time I’ve seen alligators moving around… a bit eerie. The previous visit to the birding center, I tried photographing the black crowned night heron with poor results. I was pretty pleased with these captures.

  20. I was hoping to see an alligator this last summer on my visit to The Carolina’s and Georgia this last summer. I guess I will have to settle with your wonderful pictures and post. I thought for sure you were going to get an action shot. Glad you didn’t, but your right about the circle of life.

    • I did have the camera set on burst with a fast shutter speed and standing at the ready to share with you all, but I can’t say I’m disappointed. It was kind of like watching a scary movie, you don’t want to look but can’t help yourself. That was about as close to a gator I care to get – I was on a raised boardwalk over the water and he crawled/swam under the boardwalk…. yikes!

  21. 6 miles from our current home is a lake in a state park that is full of gators, big ones. They have had decades of absolute protection from humans. If you walked your dogs and they barked, the gators would perk up and move close to shore. Gators also love fat, well fed, dogs for lunch. The dogs aren’t wary, being protected pets. The gators would easy to see because they’d come right up close hoping for a meal. Since our dog Fred loves to run away and jump in a lake for a swim we don’t go there with him. A couple of years ago the gators got so thick and so big, many over 10 feet, that the state started giving out occasional permits to shoot them. The result is they become far more wary about people, associate people with danger and death and vanish so it has become hard to see them. They have lost their boldness. And you can get gator meat in some local stores. I’m good with that.

    • My son and I visited New Orleans a few years back, and he ate alligator at every opportunity. I’m all for wildlife management when done properly and sounds like it was. We’re starting to see a lot of Coyote problems in the west and not sure what can be done. Watch out little doggie!

    • It took me a moment to figure out why the gators were named boots and bags – once it dawned on me, I felt uncomfortable hanging around the boardwalk, especially as a little 3 year old boy felt compelled to run up and down making the boardwalk vibrate/shake…eek!

  22. You got me. I thought we’d hear about an annoying RV neighbor! We’re in a spot for 30 days and hope we survive a stinking cigar. Phew, it’s a bad one….
    We’re also in alligator country….not many birds around….sad 😞

    • I have had two neighbours so annoying we moved. One was a couple who wouldn’t smoke inside their trailer and they sat outside our dining room window and smoked. The second one was a couple who felt God had put them next to us, the first Jews they had ever met, for the sole purpose of revealing the truth about Jesus to us. They were incessant. As we drove away the husband ran after us yelling “We love Israel!”

    • Debbie, sorry to hear about the ‘bad’ neighbor. I’m always concerned we might end up parking next to a smoker especially with the respiratory issues I’ve dealt with the past two years. So far we’ve been pretty lucky. Yep, FL sure has plenty of crocs and gators. They are not my fave!

  23. When we visited the Leonabella Turnbull birding center last March there were so many birds I didn’t know where to look. There may not have been that many bird when you went this year but you still were able to get a few beautiful photos. Glad you didn’t have to witness the attack on the beautiful heron!

    • I had a local photographer tell me I’m missing out by not hanging around the area until April. The whoopers and sandhills may start heading north, but tons of other migratory birds will start moving in. I visited the birding center twice this month and even though I was disappointed with the showing of birds, I still could’ve hung out for the better part of the day. Love that place.

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