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Florida Wildlife on the Golf Course

Updated on August 14, 2015

Fawn on the Golf Course

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Animals I See While Golfing in Central Florida

Sometimes I don't know if I'm going golfing or on a wildlife safari. I always tuck my camera into the golf cart storage compartment and add an extra set of batteries. Living south of Orlando, in Central Florida, we never know what we'll see on the golf course that day. Recently we saw baby alligators with their mother.

Of course, I can't stop in mid-swing to snap photos, so it's hit-or-miss to capture the wildlife on my camera. In this page, I'll share with you my wildlife photos taken on the golf course in Poinciana, Florida.

Where I don't have a photo, I'll use a poster from All Posters or Zazzle instead. That way you'll get the full feel of my golfing-wildlife safari.

(photo of fawn by Virginia Allain)

Good Birdwatching Day on the Golf Course

March 31, 2010

As we teed off on the first hole, we heard the flap of wings overhead. Looking up, we saw a bald eagle flying over us. He was magnificent.

On Another Occasion, I Photographed the Eagle by the Lake

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Later in the Round, We Saw a Swallowtail Kite

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My husband has better eyesight than I do, so he saw the pileated woodpecker first. I keep a small pair of binoculars in the golf cart, so I got a look before we had to move on.

Here's a photo that I took of one on April 24, 2013. He was so busy tapping on the tree that I was able to get quite close.

This one makes me think of the cartoon character, Woody Woodpecker.

The Pileated Woodpecker

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Carry Small Binoculars with You on the Golf Course

Bushnell Xtra-Wide 4x 30mm Binocular
Bushnell Xtra-Wide 4x 30mm Binocular

With these, I can focus in on something across the water hazard to see if it is an alligator or just a log partially submerged in the lake.

 

Sandhill Cranes and Their Baby - on the golf course in Central Florida

We see these regularly on our golf course. One time as I was teeing off, a crane came up and tried to pick up the ball with its beak. Maybe it thought it was an egg or it was just curious. When they come around with the baby, all the golfers are careful not to hit it.

Cranes have a very loud call, and it can be quite distracting when you are trying to swing. As you can see, they like to peck at the ground for grubs to eat. It can make a mess of the fairway.

Wild Pigs

Wild Boar in Florida

Supposedly these are descended from pigs brought to the new world by the Spanish in the 1500s. We've seen the baby pigs on the golf course. There are approximately 30 of these tearing up the course and yards nearby with their rooting and digging behavior. We know they are around, but we rarely see them.

A few months ago, we did see three of these in broad daylight as they ran across the golf course bridge by the 18th hole and darted into the woods. I had no chance to grab the camera. Darn it. They were a good size.

Finally got some photos (in January 2013) of some baby pigs before they took off for the safety of the palmetto.

Wild Baby Pigs - Photos by Virginia Allain

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Warning - Pigs Can Be Dangerous

A few times, we've seen the piglets on the golf course. We stay well away from them as we don't want to upset Mama Pig is she is nearby. Fully grown, the pigs can be 300 to 350 pounds, so you must take them seriously and steer clear of any that you see.

The baby pigs are cute until you stop to think of what they grow up to be.

Video of Alligator and Some Feral Pigs

Deer

My Best Deer Photo on the Golf Course

My Best Deer Photo on the Golf Course
My Best Deer Photo on the Golf Course

Florida White Tailed Deer

We see these fairly often on the golf course, usually early in the morning or as it gets close to dusk. The largest group that I've seen at once was six deer in a group.

When we selected our lot in Solivita, I noticed deer tracks in the sandy soil. I figured we wouldn’t see much of the deer once the houses were built. Apparently the deer aren’t as shy as I thought. They enjoyed nibbling on the hibiscus bush outside our breakfast room. I never seemed to get up early enough to see them foraging, but we could tell from their tracks and from the condition of the bush that they had been there. Eventually the landscaper replaced the ravaged hibiscus with something the deer didn’t care to eat.

Most of our sightings of deer have been on the golf course. Several times we spotted does and fawns crossing the number 8 fairway on the Oaks Course. Once we saw a deer near the number 2 tee area on the Cypress Course, but they seemed to be more common on Oaks.

One time we pulled up to the tee box on the first hole of Oaks and five deer were browsing in the tall grasses next to it. I had my camera handy in the golf cart and pulled it out to capture six shots of the group and of individual deer. It amazes me still that they did not bolt when we arrived.

I found this video on You Tube so you can see them for yourself.

Photos I Took on Stonegate Golf Course - The Oaks - on hole #1

Click thumbnail to view full-size
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Watch for Deer on the Road Too

Another deer sighting happened on the main boulevard in our community. Several cars were stopped in the street and we wondered why as we pulled up behind them. Just then four deer ran across the roadway and into the trees on the other side. Let’s all remember to brake for wildlife when we’re driving.

Another Fawn That We Saw on the Golf Course

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Alligators

Our Friend, Herb, on the Golf Course with an Alligator Nearby

Our Friend, Herb, on the Golf Course with an Alligator Nearby
Our Friend, Herb, on the Golf Course with an Alligator Nearby

A Good-Sized Alligator (my photo)

A Good-Sized Alligator (my photo)
A Good-Sized Alligator (my photo)

My Photos of Alligators on the Golf Course - by Virginia Allain

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Golfers keep a close eye on an alligator while their buddy hits the ball. You don't see them up and walking around very often. (click the symbol on the right to remove the captions)I'm proud of this shot.This is more often what you see, just the head above the water.It took me years to be in the right place with my camera to get this shot of a baby alligator on its mother's back.
Golfers keep a close eye on an alligator while their buddy hits the ball.
Golfers keep a close eye on an alligator while their buddy hits the ball. | Source
You don't see them up and walking around very often. (click the symbol on the right to remove the captions)
You don't see them up and walking around very often. (click the symbol on the right to remove the captions) | Source
I'm proud of this shot.
I'm proud of this shot.
This is more often what you see, just the head above the water.
This is more often what you see, just the head above the water.
It took me years to be in the right place with my camera to get this shot of a baby alligator on its mother's back.
It took me years to be in the right place with my camera to get this shot of a baby alligator on its mother's back.

Florida Alligator (a common sight on a golf course)

These we see every time we go out on the golf course. Sometimes it's just their eyes showing above the water and other times they are sunning themselves on the bank. The most I've seen at one time is three alligators. If you walk towards them, they splash into the water in a flash. If one doesn't move, then the golfer backs away and leaves the ball for the gator.

The rules of golf allow you to have a free drop if your ball is in a dangerous place (like next to an alligator).

Sign on the Golf Course Warning about Alligators

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Alligator Warning

It can be difficult to see the alligator in the water! Be careful if you are looking for a golf ball that went into the lake. When they are on the bank, it is easier to spot them.

Alligator and Wood Stork

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Bobcats

Bobcat in Florida

We've seen ones like this on the golf course 3 or 4 times. I never get my camera out in time. They quickly disappear into the brush.
We've seen ones like this on the golf course 3 or 4 times. I never get my camera out in time. They quickly disappear into the brush. | Source

Zazzle graphic of a Florida Bobcat by eaglelady1

We saw one of these today while we were golfing (February 2, 2010). When it saw us, it ducked back into a stand of palmetto. Of course, there was no time for me to take a photo. I found this video on You Tube, so you can see what one is like.

Update (March 25, 2010) - We saw the bobcat again, but this time it was out in the open. Tufted ears and a turned up, short tail.

This time my husband saw the bobcat (May 20, 2012). It was only about 6 feet away from him as it emerged from the bushes. As soon as it saw him, it retreated into the thick cover.

A neighbor, John, told us, "I once saw a bobcat strolling along very close to one of the greens on the Oaks course. Of course, I was a little wary, but we both just minded our own business and went our separate ways. Amazing, though!"

Video of a Florida Bobcat

Otter

River Otter in Florida

We've seen these several times in our area. The first time, one was crossing the fairway of the golf course. They are a pretty good size, so at first you think it's a dog. Otters have a distinctive, undulating way of running where they hump up their backs. That makes it easy to identify one, even from a distance.

I don't have a photo, so here's a You Tube video so you can see the way it moves.

March 2012 - saw another otter swimming in a golf course pond. It emerged from the water, ran across the cart path and slipped into another pond.

River Otter in Florida - available from All Posters

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Photographic Print">River Otter, Lutra Canadensis

Photographic Print">Long, Michael

Buy at AllPosters.com

Florida Panthers

Full-Grown Florida Panther

available from All Posters

I've talked to three people in our community who've seen one of these themselves. They are normally further south in Florida, but several have been killed by cars on I-4 and the Florida Turnpike around Orlando, so it's obvious that they do come this far north.

I Haven't Seen the Florida Panther in the Wild

Here's one in captivity at Gatorland in Kissimmee, Florida. They are quite large cats.
Here's one in captivity at Gatorland in Kissimmee, Florida. They are quite large cats. | Source

Florida Panther Kitten

available from All Posters

One golfer told us they saw an adult panther and three cubs or kittens on their street early one morning. There's plenty of food and cover in the preserve areas on our golf course and in the community for these large animals.

Florida Panther Kitten

Source

Photographic Print">Florida Panther, Felis Concolor Coryi, Kitten

Photographic Print">Kenney, Brian

Buy at AllPosters.com

Florida Panther

available from All Posters

These are an endangered species, and some mountain lions from the western part of the U.S. have been released in Florida to strengthen the gene pool.

Books about the Florida Panther - available from Amazon

Coyotes

I've heard the coyotes yipping and calling at dusk. Our neighbor saw them chasing a dear and fawn across the lake from his house. So far, I haven't seen the coyotes on the golf course.

We regularly see wild turkeys in groups as large as 8 or 10.

Coyotes are not native to Florida but have migrated in and adapted. We hear them regularly, even in the daytime howling when the nearby fire station sounds its siren. From the number of voices, I'm guessing there may be ten to twenty of them.

Update April 2011 - We saw a coyote next to a natural area on our golf course this week. It was sandy, reddish color and bigger than a fox. It had a bushy tail.

Coyote and Turkeys - Video

Florida Turkeys

May 2012 - We saw an adult turkey near the 17th tee with several chicks with it.

Update April 2011 - Today we saw two tom turkeys (on hole number 2 of the Stonegate Oaks golf course). They were in full display, showing off for a single hen. She studiously ignored them and pecked at the ground. One tom started a small dance, hopping around from foot to foot. Then the other tom took up the dancing. While dancing, they did not have their tail feathers open in full display.

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Armadillo

Armadillo in Florida

Like the coyote, armadillos are not native to Florida. These have emigrated from the west. We see them fairly regularly on the golf course.

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Video of an Armadillo

I got quite close to one once as apparently they don't see too well. It was busy rummaging for grubs in the grass. Finally it must have smelled me as it looked around and then headed off.

Gopher Tortoise - on Florida Golf Courses

May 22, 2012 - Today for the first time in my 7 years in Florida, I saw a gopher tortoise on the golf course. It was quite large and was eating some green plant.


A Gopher Tortoise in Florida

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Take a Minute to Answer This Poll

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Have You Golfed in Florida and Seen Any of These Animals?

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Where Do Visitors to This Page Come from? - Flag Counter added on 05/10/2012

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© 2010 Virginia Allain

What kinds of wildlife have you seen on golf courses?

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    • Virginia Allain profile image
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      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @Monika Weise: Actually I think Polk County, where I live, has the highest concentration of bald eagles outside of Alaska which has the most. Lots of water (with fish) to keep them happy here.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 4 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      Wow, Florida has a lot of diversity in its wildlife! I never realized bald eagles hung out in Florida.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 4 years ago

      Wow! Definitely looks like you were on a safari instead of a Florida golf course! I had no idea there were that many animals inhabiting golf courses until I rented a home her in Arizona on one. Amazing nightlife out there! Blessed!

    • Snakesmom profile image

      Snakesmom 6 years ago

      I would freak if I was on a golf course and saw an alligator! That would be the end of my golfing days, that is for sure! lol Love the lens, great pics too.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I fully enjoyed this page. I love the pictures you have. We have the mountain lion near our golf courses, as well. They are not seen because they retreat to the mountains just behind our city.

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 6 years ago

      It is amazing what wildlife Florida Gold Courses have to offer. With a few lizzards and some cats we are far away from this. Beautiful lens, thumbs up.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      You must have an exciting round of golf. Well done.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 7 years ago from Canada

      Wonderful ... I would love the deer but not the alligators :)