Sunday, November 23, 2014

Wakulla Springs

Florida contains more springs than any other place in the world.  An underlying layer of limestone and numerous sinkholes, along with warm climate, heavy rainfall and large amounts of decaying vegetation  makes Florida a natural for springs.  Wakulla Springs State Park is a 6,000 acre wildlife sanctuary in the Florida  Woodlands.  Cool water flows from the springs to the Wakulla River, one of the last pristine rivers in Florida, according to the information provided for us by the park.
Manatees also love this water, presently the springs are warmer than the Gulf  so many of them have recently swum up into this area.  I was able to see a couple of them from an observation deck, the huffing sound which they make as they come out of the water to exhale gives them away.  We have seen that sea cow before in other parts of Florida.  From this vantage point we also saw, sitting on a buoy, an anhinga.  You may notice him in the picture above. The only way to see the wildlife up close in this park is to take a cruise on a flat-bottomed boat, which John and I chose to do.
We had just started out on the boat tour when our guide pointed out the mergansers pictured above.  The male of this species has a crest on his head, there are two males in the picture above.  On our cruise we also saw many ibis either hanging out on the shoreline or perched in trees.
Also hanging out in trees over the river were many black vultures.  In addition we saw many white egrets as well as an occasional great blue heron.  Our guide, in his many tours of the river, also knew where he could find the alligators, one of which who is pictured below.  He steered the boat close to her and she lazily opened her eyes to check us out.  Her babies were swimming around in front of her so she perhaps is extra vigilant!   However, she soon flicked her tail and returned to her snooze.
The river is certainly looking quite autumnal for this time of the year, what with some of the leaves turning and the cypress trees going bald as they drop their leaves.  There is also a splash of red along the shoreline as the yaupon holly is presently covered with red berries.  In the picture below wild asters surround a cypress tree.
Two Tarzan movies were filmed here, one of them was Creatures of the Lost Lagoon.  I will leave you with one last picture, which is that of an anhinga perched in a tree and drying his feathers out.  That is a characteristic pose for the duck who is also called a snake bird.  He has been called that because when he comes out of the water, after diving down for food, all that is seen is a long slim neck and bill- which gives the impression of a snake arising out of the water- maybe you can see that in the picture below.  I think that picture would make a great Halloween scene, what with all the orange color and Spanish moss!

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