Monday, March 2, 2015

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

This is the second time I have visited this park, for John it is his third.  It was about thirty years ago that he was down here with our two boys.  Our eldest, Michael, was so taken with the manatees that he wanted his next Halloween costume to be that of a manatee.  I can't remember if or how we accomplished that!
The above mural should give you an idea of what a manatee looks like.  Another name for them are sea cows.  They may grow up to 13 feet long and weight up to 1300 pounds.  For all of that body mass they are considered gentle creatures. Manatees are the only marine mammals which are herbivorous.  They use their flippers to "walk"  on the ocean floor while digging for vegetation.  The tail of a manatee is paddle-shaped.    Their northernmost range here in the states is Georgia, as they need warmer waters to survive.  From November 15 to March 31 gates are opened under the Long River Bridge in Florida to give them access to the warm spring water.  The Hermosassa River flows nine miles from the springs to the Gulf of Mexico, another area where they live during the winter months.  As many as 70-80 can be seen at Hermosassa Springs on any given day during the winter months.  It was near the observation deck in the park where we found a couple hanging out.  The springs area are also replete with 34 varieties of  fish, many of which we could also see from the deck because of the clarity of the water.
The park is also a wildlife sanctuary, Florida animals and birds, as well as several manatees live here who can no longer exist out in the wild.  Cape Coral, located near Fort Myers, is supposed to have one of the larger populations of the burrowing owl.  In this park we were able to see a couple of them entering their burrow in the ground.  What a fascinating little creature!  In Cape Coral there are strict laws regarding protection of their burrows, even if they choose your lawn for their home!
Many birds are hanging out in the park, and I am sure that not all of them are residents.  I chanced to look up into the trees near the island pictured above and there seemed to be as many birds up there as on the ground, a lot of them  black vultures.  While looking up I watched two great blue herons building their nest with very large sticks.  Considering how big their babies get to be before leaving the nest, it is not surprising that construction of the nest is a major task.
Not sure when I will have another posting, tomorrow John and I are heading north again, this time to visit our son Dan and his wife in Washington, D.C.

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