When someone talks about seeing an alligator you would assume they are on a golf course in Florida or a bayou in Louisiana. My wife Cheryl and I were visiting Merchants Mill Pond State Park in North Carolina, and we were surprised to hear about a gator that had been reported there. I was also surprised that Cheryl took it as a mission to go find him!
The 760 acre millpond is a favorite destination of ours. We've been renting canoes and paddling through the maze of bald cypress and tupelo gum trees for many years. It isn't unusual to see turtles sunning themselves on logs and then plopping in the water as you drift by. It turns out that this is also what the alligator will likely be doing - using the sun to warm that cold-blooded metabolism.
The park is home to a variety of frogs, turtles, water snakes, beavers, mink, river otter and bobcat. There are over 200 species of birds as well and it is a stop for spring and fall migrations.
There are many opportunities for capturing scenic photographs. On this perfect fall day the changing colors of the leaves combined with Spanish moss made for some nice images. Of course getting a shot of the alligator was now high on the list.
We were told about a general area in the millpond to look. We followed markers that show you the trail through the trees. Cypress “knees” occasionally bump the bottom of the canoe. We were really surprised when we drifted around a clump of bald cypress trees and there he was. I’ll let the photo speak for itself as to his size and general description.
We kept our distance of course and after taking a few photos left him to enjoy his afternoon in the sun. Mission accomplished in finding the alligator of Merchants Mill Pond.