Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Homosassa Springs wildlife park

We got up and out this morning and decided to go to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.  It is a Florida State Park and I have read and heard a lot about it so I had to go and see for myself.  It was truly wonderful and everyone must put this on their "bucket list".  There are four ways to enter the park.  You can drive and park at the entrance.  You can park at the visitor center and take a free park tram.  You can park at the visitor center and walk to the park entrance.  Or you can do as we did and park at the visitor center and take a free boat ride to the park entrance.  The above pic shows part of the ride.  It took 20 minutes and we were told about the park as we went along.  I took over 600 pics, I know and I don't know why.  But I must pic and choose and some of the pics that did not get picked were the tallest pine tree in the park with an beat up old osprey nest.  We were told that the male will be coming in around January to repair and fix it all up pretty for this years eggs.  

Wood ducks male and female.
Fish with little fishy on it's side.
Close-up of little fishy.

You are looking at the floating underwater observation platform called the "fishbowl where the above pics were shot.  You walk out on a ramp and go below and look through glass to see the fish and in the winter manatees.  The difference in the color of the water is depth.  The bluer water is deeper and is the spring that feeds into the Homosassa River.

Homosassa River
the main spring located just below the fishbowl underwater observation is the head waters of the Homosassa River.  The River flows nine miles from the springs to the Gulf of Mexico.  "Homosassa" comes from the Seminole and Creek languages and means "place where the wild peppers grow".

This is one of four resident manatees.  These four are too injured or tame to return to the wild.  In the winter there are hundreds of these gentle giants floating in the spring. Manatees are not territorial and have to predators.  They eat aquatic plants and the water temperature must be greater than 68 degrees.  This is why they head up rivers with springs that have a constant 72 degrees.  The Florida manatee is a migratory animal going to Texas and as far north as the Carolinas and VirginiaThe average manatee grows to 10 feet and weighs from 1,00 to 1,200 pounds. They can live to be 50 to 60 years.  They eat 50 different kinds of plants
This is a wagon load of manatee food
Manatee munching on greens.
Alligator sunning on the beach. 
Pelican fishing.

 Flamingos use to be all over the southern part of Florida and now they are only found in wildlife parks. They are pink because they eat shrimp and their shells are pink

Roseate Spoonbills have large, flat, spatulate bills and feed by wading through shallow water, sweeping the partly opened bill from side to side. The moment any small aquatic creature touches the inside of the bill—an  insects, shell fish or tiny fish—it is snapped shut.



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