Monday, January 12, 2015

A Blog Worthy Day


Wesley Chapel, Florida


Today was cloudy and rainy on and off most of the day, but yesterday (Sunday) was nice, so we took advantage and made a day trip.

We have an annual Florida State Parks pass, so we drove up to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. It’s about 60 miles north from the Tampa area. We got in free, with our park pass, but I think they charge $13 per person.  It is more of a zoo, but with all native Florida species, except for Lucifer the hippo.

When the state took over the animal park a few years ago, they relocated all non native species of animals, except Lucifer.   There was a  public outcry when they tried to relocate Lucifer, which ended up with Lucifer being made a Florida citizen so that he could live out his life at the park.  He will be 55 years old in a few weeks and will be having a birthday party.  Poor lonely Lucifer.


We started our day on a boat ride. The captain points out any wildlife he sees along the way, and of course no trip on a Florida waterway would be complete without a gator.


Once we got off the boat, we walked around the grounds.

Lots of beautiful birds.

Red Shouldered Hawk


This was the first time we’ve seen Caracara there.  They appeared to be very small compared to the ones we saw at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.



Snowy Egret


I think the Flamingos are the star of the place…or at least the most colorful.  We actually saw wild Flamingos here in Tampa one year.  Unfortunately, their habitat was destroyed to build houses, but we always remember seeing them in the wild.



There are foxes, Florida panthers and bobcats.  I think the bobcats are the most handsome.

The two red wolves were from a captive breeding program. There are only about 100 of them left in the wild.  This guy looked sad.  So was I.

Red Wolf




Florida panther


Love the white ears on this bobcat.


How about this face?   I think this is a horned owl.


The underground springs that supply the Homosassa River provide warm water temps of 72 degrees.  The warm water brings the manatee in from  the gulf seeking warmth.

We walked up on the viewing area by the spring and spotted quite a few manatee.  They were hard to see because the water wasn’t real clear there.


The boats couldn’t go past the ropes, but there are plenty of manatee all through the river.


We continued our walk along the trail to what is called “the fishbowl.”

It sits on top of the springs, which are where the water looks blue.


As you walk on the trail to the fishbowl you start to see a lot of fish, and usually a manatee or two.


You walk down under the water line to go into the fishbowl.

Here is what you see.  Those are all fish, from near to far.


These fish with the stripe are snook.


Each different type of fish swim with the same type and the same direction.

The fish in the picture below are jacks.  We had an interesting   encounter on a dive in the gulf one day. It started out with a school of jacks. They (and us) ended up being in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy.  We ended up being surrounded by at least a hundred sharks. It was one of those memories you don’t forget and every time I see a jack, I remember it.


We spoke to a lady in the fish bowl that had lived in Florida 25 years and has never seen a manatee.  We’ve been to the fishbowl many many times and have always seem manatee there…until yesterday.  She thought she was the jinx that kept the manatee away.

We told her exactly where to find the manatee that we had just seen and even pointed her in the right direction.

As soon as she left, and we started walking back along the trail we saw this lone manatee swimming towards the fishbowl.


We decided to back down into the fish bowl and get a better look at her underwater.

Isn’t she pretty?


Notice how the schools of fish thinned out?  Those fish are not captive fish.  They can come and go into the river and gulf of Mexico as they wish.  I guess they like the warm water too.

Look at the cute face.


She swam around the fishbowl a while then headed back to the river, doing a little flip on her way.  That is her belly you’re seeing.



Here are a few more things we saw on our walk around the park.


These are white pelicans.  They are a lot larger than  the brown pelicans.


Poinsettia growing in the park.  They will bloom every year and  can take some freezing temperature.


Whooping Crane


American Eagle


The animals here are mostly ones that have been injured and can no longer live on their own.  They do a lot of manatee rehabilitation there too, with the goal being to release them back into the wild.  The manatee you saw in these pictures were all wild and free to come and go.  There was one that was captive and held in a pen, so I assume was being nursed back to health.

It’s a fun place to go and see all the native Florida critters.  It’s nicer on a bright sunny day. We had a lot of clouds the day we went, but at least it was warm.

This wasn’t the end to our day.   Come back in a day or so and I’ll show you a LOT more Manatees in some crystal clear blue water!


If you want to visit Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, It’s just off highway 19 in Homosassa, Florida.

Map picture


  1. Well, I'll be the first to say that today certainly was a "blog worthy day"! Such beautiful photos and interesting commentary. I just found and "hearted" your blog. I am Rhonda and we live in middle TN. I am so happy to find a blog that exemplifies the beauty of our country east of the Mississippi river for a change. Enough about Arizona...:-). Kidding...It *is* a refreshing change to see the beauty of Florida here in the misery of January. Nice to meet y'all and I'll check back often...:-)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Rhonda, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love when I discover new people who are reading the blog. Many don't comment, so I never know they are there. If you like this post, stay tuned for the rest of the got better! We spent the summer up your way, in north Georgia. We were only about 30 miles from NC and TN and spent quite a bit of time in Tennessee. It's a beautiful area.

  2. Your photos are the Manatee!!! We really need to visit Homosassa Springs. What is the white bird just before the Bald Eagle photo??

    1. It was a whooping cane. I was too lazy to label the birds, but I went back and did it. (you guilt-ed me into it....haha)

  3. We have not been there in years. We have friends visiting at the end of Feb and may make the trip up.

    1. when you go, be sure to also go to Three Sisters Spring. More on that later.

  4. Sunday was definitely the best day in a while. Great pictures. Glad to see your camera is working so well. Not everyone agrees but I'm with you, manatees are CUTE!!

  5. That manatee was so close you could have gotten its autograph. It probably enjoyed watching you as much as you did watching it!

    A new place on our bucket list to see. :c)

  6. I was going to say the entry was certainly blog worth but someone else had beat me to it. So, I will just echo that a stop at the park is well worth the time if one is in the area. Judy and I visited it in 2012 during the time we were volunteer host at a nearby FL state park. I must confess my pic were not as awesome as the ones you posted.

  7. So glad that you guys got out and explored. Once we're more settled here, I'm dragging George over to the beach to see if the ocean is still here, lol.

  8. Nice photos! I especially like the Red Shouldered Hawk.

  9. More wonderful pictures, thanks for the tour.


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