Male Florida Panther
The Homosassa Springs, FL wildlife state park functions as a wonderful small zoo. The animals and birds here are orphans, rehabilitated from previous injury, or were born in captivity. These animals, for many reasons, would not be able to successfully live in the wild. Nearly all of these animals are Florida natives (The hippo came from the San Diego Zoo originally, and is over 50 years old).
There are bears, manatees, deer, eagles, flamingos, bobcats, foxes, Red Wolves, all sorts of other larger birds, two endangered Florida Panthers, Whooping Cranes, and alligators. I highly recommend this park. The adult entrance fee is $13.00 and less for the kids. The park is just about 90 miles away from Orlando and is near the Gulf of Mexico, North of Tampa. The park’s wildlife walking path is shady, paved and is about a mile long through the exhibits.
I will share more pictures in my next post. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.
Cara Cara bird
“Lulu” The Hippo
Black Bear and (visiting) Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron at Ochlockonee River State Park, Florida
I spotted these Little Blue Herons at the little lake behind Freedom Pointe in The Villages, FL at a vernal pool in the campground at the Ochlockonee River State Park near St. Mark’s National Wildlife Sanctuary in North-Central Florida, and also at both Schwartz and Boone Parks in The Villages at Lake Paradise (which is now refilling with water). I saw these beautiful big wading birds within the last month (Schwartz and Boone herons possibly with Snowy Egrets or juvenile herons, on Wednesday).
The Little Blue Herons start as white juveniles and as they age, they turn a beautiful purple blue with olive-green legs and feet. They are much more of a blue hue than the similar-looking Reddish Egret.
The Little Blue Herons eat frogs, fish, crawfish, small turtles, baby alligators, ducklings, and occasionally aquatic snails, worms, and larger aquatic insects. They generally spear their prey with their sharp long bill and then gulp the food down. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Little Blue Heron at Boone Park in The Villages, FL
Little Blue Heron at Schwartz Park in The Villages, FL
Little Blue Heron at Ochlockonee River State Park in Florida
Snowy Egret with Little Blue Heron at Freedom Pointe in The Villages, FL
Little Blue Heron at Freedom Pointe in The Villages, FL
I spotted this Red-headed Woodpecker while hiking in the Ochlockonee River State Park near the St. Mark’s National Wildlife Sanctuary in Florida last week. I so enjoy seeing these beautiful woodpeckers! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Belted Kingfisher on the Suwanee River
Double Crested Cormorants on the Suwanee River
This lovely Florida State Park has a 72 degree F fresh water spring, is on the banks of the Suwanee River, has a wonderful campground, and walking trails with a children’s playground area. I saw many deer, nine, I think. I also saw four armadillos. There were a few wading birds, and songbirds, but there were perhaps a hundred Turkey Vultures (with a few Black Vultures in the bunch).
Almost every large tree on the Suwanee River at the mouth of the Manatee Springs stream, had many vultures perched on it! It is an amazing sight to see a seventy foot tall Cypress tree festooned with buzzards (another name for vultures).
This park is not a zoo and all the animals are wild. I was surprised to see the animals so boldly walking around were people were.
I recommend visiting Manatee Springs State Park. A lovely place with a lot to see in a small park. It is about six miles from the small town of Chiefland where there are several stores and restaurants. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
Probably an Eastern Phoebe
Pied-billed Grebe on the Suwanee River
Juvenile Little Blue Heron at the Manatee Spring
This is the Paynes Prarie State Park, and it is several miles South of Gainesville, Florida, near a town called Micanopy. The part of the park where we were, is a fresh-water wetlands. We had pulled off the highway (not the I-75 freeway which is close-by) to see a park overlook. This stop was an un-planned, very quick visit. We went out on a wooden boardwalk over the swampy landscape, and viewed several Great Egrets, two Little Blue Herons, and one Great Blue Heron. That Great Blue Heron stood stock-still and almost looked like a statue during the ten or so minutes we were out watching the birds.
The birds were a long way from this boardwalk so it was a good thing I had my long zoom lens! I also saw a Red-shouldered Hawk perched in an old tree across the highway, and a Turkey Vulture flying overhead. I have read that this park has quite a lot of wildlife. This is a park I definitely want to return to. I took these pictures on August 31, 2013. Please click on the thumbnail images to see the larger photo. Enjoy!