Thursday, February 16, 2017

Blue Spring State Park, Florida

     On Valentine's Day, which is a holiday I strive not to celebrate, because it's silly-- Tim and I went to look at manatees at the Blue Spring State Park. The waters are crystal clear, and spring fed-- allowing you to see just about everything below its surface.
     We followed advice, in getting there as early as possible and avoiding the weekend. I'm VERY glad we heeded that advice- because the place get crowded in ways that I despise. Bus loads of school kids running around, lots of families, and it just gets a tad bit loud and not fun. So we arrive at 8:30am, and got out around 11:00am, and it was perfect timing, because even by 10am, the crowds grew and grew.
     Got in a few nice sights of wildlife including manatees...
Gar of all sizes, from these petite Flroida Gar to much larger species, like the longnose gar.

Red Shouldered Hawks were vocal and active, with many of them making themselves known throughout the park with a seemingly whiny call, in comparison to that of a red tail hawk.

This cool little dude/ette is a spiny orb weaver working on its wonderful little web.

This is a manatee- they are pretty much viewed as underwater blobs. They spend their winters in the springs as the water is warmer and despite having a layer of blubber, warmer water is still favored.

This big guy was across the river that connects to the springs-- conveniently where all the kayakers go... snacks?

Things I never tire of, double crested cormorant eyes.

This is a group of manatees, white the water is clear, it allows you to see the details of their life. Resting and taking breaths every 5-7 minutes or so. They really don't do a whole lot more. They don't seem to feed in the springs- there is not a lot of vegetation, they appear to do that elsewhere.

A PILEATED WOODPECKER!

I admit- I may have been more excited for this bird than manatees... Bad Jen!

This bird was diligently working on a cavity, and called to another off in the distance. These guys are so big and your stereotypical cartoon character of a woodpecker.

Perfect zygodactyl toes, the better for vertical feats.

Yo, down in front.... a cormorant blocks the view of the most active manatee of the day- climbing over and rolling under this other manatee. We couldn't tell if it was youngster or perhaps a potential mate?

It almost got its whole head out of the water too! This was about as exciting as the manatees got- we saw some of their funny, paddle-like tail too.

On the morning of our departure, a cattle egret perched on our car, a final bird to add to my list, thanks lil buddy!


Despite a short trip, we had a great deal of fun, catching up with family, one of my long-time friends from middle school, and exploring the wilds of Florida. Call me crazy, but that was more fun than Disney!