Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Huntington Beach State Park Part II

To clarify the previous post, let me address why this park was named Huntington. Back in the early 1930's Archer Huntington and his wife Anna, the famous sculptor, bought several plantations in the coastal area of South Carolina. Archer was the son of Collis P. Huntington who was one of the founders of the transcontinental railroad and the Newport News shipyard. From these properties, this park was created as well as Brookgreen Gardens which are separated by Route 17. The later is a park where numerous of Anna's sculptures are displayed. The Huntingtons built the structure below and was name Atalaya; from the name it can be deducted that it was built in the Spanish Mediterranean style.
This building was used as their winter home until the beginning of the II World War when it was used by the Army until the end of the war. After the war, the house was again used by the Huntington's until the late 40's. This property was leased to the state of South Carolina in 1960 and converted to a park. When I first visited this park in 1973, the Atalaya was abandoned and overgrown by vegetation. I walked inside the building which was in disrepair but now is being preserved and can be formally visited for a dollar, quite a bargain.
Alligators are quite abundant in this park and show no fear of man. I spent long times observing these beauties and noticed that they would swim and bite the grass off the shoreline, I just could not figure out what they were doing.
It did not take long to discover what was going on They were pulling the grass off looking for crabs. When one was found, time was not wasted in making a meal of them. The gator will repeatedly throw its head backwards to move the crab towards the throat; this way the grass was not swallowed along with the crustacean. Another interesting observation that I was not able to capture in film was that in one occasion, one of the gators was surrounded by bubbling water along its chest. I could not figure out what was going on until I heard a very low frequency sound. It looks as the vibrations of the alligator's chest was causing the bubbling effect.
Alligators are not the only predators of the marshes at Huntington Beach Park. Fishing with a net in one of the canals there was a man trying to catch shrimps but in the time that I was there, he was not too successful.
Painted buntings are to me the most colorful birds in Southeast and it appears that their formal range had diminished. Consequently their numbers have been reduced due the destruction of their habitat. A male is below.
Here we have a mocking bird who is not afraid of big bad eagle. Size matters!!!


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

A most interesting post Jose. It is wonderful that private people like this donate their land to be used as parks.

The observation on the gator are very interesting to me and is behaviour which I have not seen before. I would not have thought that they would go after crabs as they are so small and definitely not a proper meal for them.

Thanks for sharing this interesting post with us.

Les Barr said...

An interesting Post. Didn't know that Gators like to eat Crabs. Some excellent Images, also. If they don't fear Man that much, I'm sure fearful of them!

Ken Conger Photography said...

Nice series of photos. Didn't realize that gators would expend energy like that for a crab. Great bunting image. Blue Skies.

Unknown said...

very interesting post. The second shot of the gator is great. I'm thinking that crab does't go down too well. ouch!

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