Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our Florida wildlife adventures

When Dan and I drove to Florida last Saturday, we didn't know that our visit would be characterized by an abundance of wildlife. It began before we even arrived in St. Petersburg. We were driving through central Florida on Route 301 which has some fairly wild stretches and Dan ask if alligators ever came out on the road. I said that I thought they stuck pretty close to the water, but that there were canals along lots of the roads. Not a minute later, the van in front of us hit his brakes suddenly and I pulled into the left lane to avoid him as a small alligator scuttled across the highway right in front of our car!! Dan and I just looked at each other amazed.

The next morning, we took a walk with my dad along the bayou that runs into Tampa Bay. At the far side of the bayou, we were rewarded with a close look at five or six manatees enjoying the warm water of the shallow bayou.

We guessed that people must feed them because they surfaced as soon as they saw us rather than swimming away.

We also spotted these turtles enjoying the sun on a boat ramp.

On Tuesday, we drove over to Sawgrass Lake Park, part of the Pinellas County Park system. We had visited once before when Dan and Anna were small. A nicely carved sign warns visitors not to mess with the alligators because there is no fencing along the canal.

At the first observation platform, Dan spotted these baby alligators in the mud. One is on the far left and the other on the right. Look for the yellow striped tails.

This one wasn't as camera shy as this siblings.

Dan also spotted their mother who was right at the edge of the water looking very much like a log at first. Some big turtles swimming near the babies galvanized her into action, however, and we were able to get some pictures.

This beautiful egret watched us as we left the park.

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