Some of the critters in the water at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park north of Tampa. I made my annual winter trip in mid-January, hoping to see manatees along the river but the weather had warmed up for a few day and the manatees had scattered around the area.
Yes, this guy was on the other side of the glass. You usually see them sleeping in the back with their eyes closed.
It seemed to be mating day that morning. Both pelicans and some wild vultures were getting frisky in the warm weather.
The calm water in the springs.
The rare hybrid great blue heron/great egret was sporting his breeding colors back in early April. I did not change or enhance the color in his face, only cropped the pictures up. He looks more like a great egret now but they have bright green around the beak during breeding season. Great blue herons get a little blue around the eyes. He or she looks like he’s ready for a mate. I didn’t see him the last 2 times I was at the pier so maybe he’s on a nest.
Snowy egrets were stealing bait fish from the fishermen. The cormorant scored a big one for lunch.
Showing off on the light post.
Pelicans and frigatebirds were flying by.
Out past the fishing pier, the utility tower had broken off during Hurricane Irma. The broken tower is still laying below the water. People started swimming out to it and the lifeguards had to swim out and yell for them to come back to shore. Not knowing if they were strong swimmers, the lifeguards wouldn’t want them to get out too far into the shipping channels where the big boats come in.
Linking to Wednesday Around the World.
From far away it looks like big rocks out there in the water. They were really manatees.
It’s not often you can get this close to manatees. At Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park you can see them up close on a bridge that crosses over Homosassa River where the wild manatees congregate in the winter. The water is crystal clear so you can really see the details on these big sea cows.
They were staying close together keeping warm. It had been cold for a few days but the water in the springs stays much warmer.
When they come up for air you can really see their faces.
There are tour guides that take you down the river and swim in the area that the manatees are hanging out. The tours are heavily monitored by volunteers to make sure the people don’t bother the manatees if they are in the no-swim zone. I’d rather just let the manatees stay wild and admire them from the bridge. There were over 20 boats by lunch time.
“Fishies” swimming by the underwater observation window.
From my annual winter road trip in January.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving I took my sisters over to the beach for a walk before lunch. We walked around the marina and stopped in some of the gift shops there.
Later on that day we walked on the causeway from Clearwater to Tampa and watched the sun go down before heading home for dinner.
The Selby Gardens in Sarasota sits right on the bay. It was a warm beautiful morning in late November when I was there for the first time with my sister.
It’s a small botanical gardens and a bit far from my home in Tampa. Not sure if I will get down here again soon. My favorite part was the conservatory that had a lot of orchids. We happened to be there during an orchid exhibit which was pretty cool.
Aquarium creatures in the manatee exhibit building.
Turtles swimming around in the manatee exhibit.
Watching pelicans being fed from behind the glass at the under water viewing area at the manatee hospital. It was strange watching from this perspective. Their little feet were going a mile a minute.
It’s not often you get to see a hooded merganser this close. He was swimming close to the window of the under water viewing window.
The Lowry Park Zoo is getting a new water filtration system for the manatee hospital so there are currently no manatees at the zoo. Any injured manatees are now being sent to other manatee rehabbers until their new system is in. Normally you can go underneath and see the injured manatees that are being cared for at the hospital which is part of the zoo.. It’s unfortunate that any people visiting the area are not able to see these big guys up close but the zoo really needed to update its water system. And, it unfortunate that soon it will be installed and there will be new injured manatees swimming around there again. You can read about the hospital here.
Upclose with flamingos.
Butterflies buzzing around the pretty flowers.
Super sized fish.
A few of the plants at the gardens.
Sunken Gardens is a 4 acre 100-year-old botanical garden near downtown St. Petersburg and one of the oldest roadside tourist attractions in the country. The gardens are located in what was a small lake 10 feet below sea level which is where it got the name. I hadn’t been in nearly 10 years and it’s so close so I thought I’d stopped in one morning for a quick walk. Since it was the end of summer, there weren’t a lot of flowers blooming but the gardens was a tropical oasis once you got inside. A handful of flamingos live there as well. It was a great little walk but so hot. My next trip will be in the winter.