Tuesday, May 24, 2016

So. We went on a road trip and... (Part 3c)

...went to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This state park is accessible by a short, guided boat ride from the primary parking area to the visitors' entry where you pay your entry fee.
Peaceful boat ride to the main part of the park.
The park is famous for being one of the prime homes for manatees. During the winter, dozens of manatees congregate in the adjacent Homosassa River. There are some permanent residents in the main spring pool, however and you can easily view them on you own or wait around for one of the several "shows" they have. (Really just feeding times with a narrator.)

One of the three manatees who call the spring enclosure home.
 There's an underwater viewing area as well. It's lined with glass (that needs replacing) and offers underwater views of the manatees and huge schools of fish.

Lots of fish, like these snook and mullet, find the conditions around the spring just perfect.

You can get a great fish-eye view of the schools from the bubble--sort of a reverse aquarium; you're in the tank while the fish swim free.

After getting a gander at the "tame" manatees, we strolled over to the river and got a lucky glimpse of a wild one. Like many of these huge beasts, this one had a couple of wounds on its back from boat propellers. Perhaps that is why it wasn't heading north to Georgia or the Carolinas with its relatives.

Feral manatee in the Homosassa River.

Previous to becoming a state park and focusing on local/regional wildlife, Homosassa was an exotic animal park. All the previous tenants were sold off or donated to various zoos--except one. No one wanted a rather aging hippo so he has remained and is now fifty some years old. They celebrate is "birth" day every year and he's got quite a following.
The lone hold over from the "exotic animal park" days.
The rest of the entourage consists of critters you might find outside the park--and many of the birds come and go as they please. They've black bears, Florida cougar, bobcats, red and gray foxes, river otters, and red wolves. (As were were walking past the wolf enclosure, an ambulance drove up to the entrance with its siren wailing. The wolves all responded in kind and every one of them howled! Splended!)
Seven of these beasts, ranging in size from around 8 to 10 feet long inhabit their special pool.
They've a reptile house with all manor of snakes also. Many lovely specimens and many poisonous ones, too. Terry stayed well away from the glass.

The animals were neat to view, but the birds! Goodness! Did they have birds. Some were free to come and go as they pleased, others were enclosed in a huge aviary (think of it as a walk-in bird cage) and still more were unable to leave due to injury. (The latter group was primarily birds of prey--hawks and eagles--and owls.)
Flamingos doing flamingo things. (No, they aren't plastic.) (Free ranging.)

White pelican. (Free ranging)

Brown Pelican. (Free ranging.)

Snowy Egret. (Capitve.)

Black-crowned Night Heron. (Capitve.)

Common Gallinule. (Capitve.)

Osprey and American Bittern. (Capitve.)
Roseate Spoonbill. House building? (Capitve.)

Black Vulture. (Free ranging.)

Immature Anhinga living dangerously in the gator pool. (Free ranging.)

Eventually we had to leave which meant taking the boat back to the parking area.
Boat ride back to the parking area. Nice way to end the visit.
All in all it was a pleasant outing. As was our visit with my long lost cousins.

Time to head north (where they were having rainy/snowy weather!?). On to Savanah, GA.

See Part 4 for our tour of the city.

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