A few stops on the way home.

The trail around the ponds at Possom Branch Preserve were covered in these purple flowers. The bees seemed to love them.

Little critters.

I noticed a swallow tail kite cruising high over the busy road next to the preserve.

Lots of parulas and palm warblers but not many other birds. Spring migration was pretty much over by early May.

On the way home I stopped by a small park near Possum Branch Preserve to take a peek on the boardwalk. Nothing there but I saw the above yellow billed cuckoo in the parking lot. I saw it fly into a tree and at first glance I thought it was a dove. I’m glad I stopped and paid attention. These are fairly rare here.

I also stopped by the fishing pier in Safety Harbor to see if there were any manatees. No manatees this morning but a school of sting rays swam under the pier.

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The big ones under water

You can get really close to the big swimmers under water at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. Turtles, sharks and sting rays swim right up to the glass. The sting rays look like they have happy faces when they swim up.

You can swim in the exhibit with the sharks. Not sure if that pole he’s holding would calm my fears. I’m sure they keep them well fed though.

The annual visit to the manatees

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One of the fun outdoor things to do when my sisters are here for Christmas is to drive over to the Tampa Electric Company to see the manatees. The electric plant pulls in cold water to cool the plant and flushes out the warm water so the manatees spend the winter in the channel next to the plant where the water is warmer.

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It’s always fun seeing the manatees floating around in the channel.  Several of them were floating on their backs.  Some of them only stick their noses out to get air.

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They have a new stingray pool where you can pet them.  You can also see them out in the channel swimming by.

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The mangroves along the channel are covered in these black mangrove crabs.

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White pelicans were flying high over our heads.

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Pretty flower in the butterfly garden.

It was a beautiful day right before Christmas but too warm.  82 degrees is too hot for the end of December. It would have been nice to have long sleeves on when we were out running around. The tourist from up north didn’t seem to mind. I’m sure they were all happy to be out of the snow.  The Manatee Viewing Center at TECO is only opened from November through April.  Even though the weather was warm, there were still plenty of manatees to see.

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