Have you ever seen a gator when she really gets mad?
I’m Just Sayin’
by SHEILA SMITH
Going to the Lorrain Bridge or the Lacassane Pool in the Lacassine area always turns into an episode of Marty Stouffer’s “Wild America.”
Some of you may remember a few years ago when I made my first journey to the area in search of the beautiful bridge. I discovered the long and winding Niblett Road (which also serves as a pathway for the parish’s Extreme Bike Trail, venomous snakes and all) and I mistook it as the Road to Death, since there were no signs of life or homes for miles.
Well, I made the journey again Monday to take pictures for the Jennings Daily News’ upcoming Cajun Country 2013, our visitor’s guide magazine that will be filled with tons of interesting facts and features about Jeff Davis Parish. My Lorrain Bridge experience was simple and peaceful this time; Mother Nature was shining bright, wildlife was active and all the flowers and trees were in bloom. I even cruised Niblett Road with my windows down and the radio up, enjoying the ride.
I made it over the river and through the woods to the Lacassane Pool and the day was even prettier there. Miles of water were covered in bright green lily pads and healthy water lilies. A variety of birds flew through the air and skipped across the water. People of all ages were sitting along the banks, fishing in the sun.
My camera caught a number of unique images but I was disappointed to see no alligators. With so much activity near and on the water, it was surprising. But the number one reason I headed there was in hopes of gator shots.
So I took my car down a wildlife trail in hopes of finding a gator. Luckily, I noticed two younger reptiles floating in one canal so I parked and began snapping away. Back in my car, I drove a few more feet and noticed a rather large gator basking on the bank across from me.
So I parked, walk to the water’s edge, camera in hand, and begin snapping pictures. Something kept splashing around at my feet. I assumed it was small fish but it was incredibly shallow in that area, so I wondered why fish were that close to the bank.
To my delight, something popped up about a foot away from me, and I squealed in excitement: four baby alligators, probably seven to eight inches long, swimming through reeds and leaves, not bothered by my presence.
I immediately refocused my camera on them and started to shoot.
Well, guess who that was resting on the bank across my way? Yep. Mama Gator.
I knew that the minute I saw the babies. But when Mama realized I knew her kids were there, she did not like that. Nope, not at all.
She slowly walked into the water and gracefully swam my way. Then she hit the shallow part. Then she stood up on all fours.
Then she came out of the water.
Have you ever seen a chick with a camera around her neck turn, run, do a “Dukes of Hazzard” slide across the hood of her vehicle, jump into her car, then lock all the doors?
Well, if you had been with me at the Lacassane Pool Monday, you would have seen just that.
Mama G, satisfied she had chased away the paparazzo, crept back into the water but stayed at its edge, her babies swimming freely, without any concerns. (Of course, if I had a mother like that, I probably wouldn’t have to worry about danger, either.)
I got out of my car once more and climbed on the hood (Toyota Corollas are quite durable, by the way). I took more pictures but needed to get closer.
So I drove the Corolla down the embankment to the edge of the water, leaned out of the passenger side window, and starting photographing Mama G as she hissed and bared her teeth.
“Calm down, woman,” I said. “I don’t want to cook your tail, just take some glamour shots.”
When I finally finished harassing her and drove up the embankment, I watched as she swam in my direction until she approached a drainage pipe. Quite a possessive woman.
So, with that said, keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming Cajun Country issue. It’s going to be great – food, fun, festivals, facts and all kinds of other goodies.
There will also be plenty of alligator pics. Rumor has it some dumb reporter almost lost her life (or at least a limb) trying to get those shots for you.
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