My sister from St. Louis came to visit for a week in February. We did a lot of tourist things and one of them was visiting Sunken Gardens in St. Pete. The botanical gardens, located near downtown, is over 100 years old. I think it had been at least 30 years since my sister had been and a few years for me. There’s a lot of old tall trees here including that beautiful rainbow eucalyptus tree in the bottom shot.
Watching the small flock of flamingos.
I only saw a few butterflies since it was still a little chilly.
One of the small moss covered waterfalls (I took this with my phone).
The bougainvillea bush wall was in full bloom and it was a beautiful to see how it had been growing for years.
Some of the miniature ponds.
The next day were in downtown Tampa for lunch and found these cool statues. I think this was once a forgotten industrial area and is now a booming area with new apartments and restaurants.
It’s not often you get to see white pelicans up close. They usually only spend the winter in central Florida and even then they are usually across a lake. There are a few that live at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park year round, having ended up there with some form of injury.
The pelicans there are all missing a wing or partial wing from injuries, usually that involves fishing line being tangled up around their wings. They nest at the park and their offspring grow up there and then fly off.
The flamingos were spending the morning preening, eating or napping.
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.
At 8:30 am, the river just outside of the park was getting full with people swimming with the manatees. There are sections of the river that are off-limits so the manatees can get away from the tourists if they want to be left alone. They are curious and friendly and usually don’t shy away from people as long as they don’t get overcrowded.
All of those spots in the water are manatees huddled together for warmth. This is one of the warmest parts of the springs so they spend the winter here.
A few of them coming up for air.
There are lots of resident alligators at the wildlife park. They are fenced in so they can’t eat the tourists.
The river otters are very curious. They will come up to the rail and sniff you and then slid into the water and do tricks, rolling over and popping up in the middle of the pond as if to say “Watch me do this one!”
A few of the beautiful flamingos at the park.
The Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park has so many different critters. The wild manatees come into the springs to stay warm but the park also has many permanent residents, many of them injured. If wild manatees are sick and get stranded somewhere else, they can end up here at the manatee hospital to recoup in the warm water.
All of the above were taken in April at the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. It was a nice surprise to see more than just butterflies there. These birds were flying all over the conservatory, eating all of the snacks that were strategically placed near the path. Except for the flamingos of course. They were wading in a pond in the middle. I had not finished editing all of the pictures from the trip until recently so I’m finally getting around to posting these bright-colored beauties.