The azaleas were blooming at Sawgrass Lake Park in mid February.
There were several baby alligators of various sizes around a mother
Red-bellied woodpecker by Mike. The rest of the pictures are also his, and he helpfully is still doing the processing.
Little blue heron
You can see the needle like teeth of this gar
Skink slinking away
In winter when the sea water cools, manatees swim up rivers to springs that have consistent temperatures. The springs have cooler temperatures than manatees prefer, but generally it’s warm enough to make it through the cold snaps of Florida winters. Blue Spring State Park has a link to a site that posts updates about how many manatees have been spotted recently. A few days after a count in mid January reported of a couple dozen manatees, we visited the park, which is a bit north of Orlando. Mike’s picture:
Unlike the Ichetucknee, there is very little vegetation in the spring run, so there is nothing for the manatees to eat. There are viewing platforms periodically along the spring run, but the manatees that we saw seemed to prefer hanging out at the far side, as far away from the people as possible, and at the end of the run near where it empties into the St Johns River. During manatee season, the spring run is off limits to swimming, diving and boating. What were much easier to see were the large and numerous alligator gar.
At the head of the springs, “a first magnitude spring that discharges 104 million gallons of water daily” (State Park website), we watched a green anole drink from palmetto fronds. This and the rest are Mike’s pictures, and he did the processing as well.
Black Vultures were perched on the far side of the run.
There is a nature trail in the south of the park. It has a long exposed stretch that would be without shade until mid or late afternoon. As we were there late morning, we turned around a bit after the ruins of a small house.
On a foggy morning in early January we went to Sawgrass Lake Park.
There was dew on everything. This and the rest are Mike’s. He also did photo processing.
The two story western overlook had several birds nearby.
We headed south to Jelks preserve a few days before Christmas with new camera bags to try out. Mike was just getting over a bad cold, so we took a shorter loop than we normally would. There are several shortcut trails crossing the main loop around the 614 acres. One edge of the park borders the Myakka River. The parking lot is in a more arid, open area, but as you get closer to the river and the trees get thicker, the blankets of epiphytes on the trees tint the entire canopy pink.
sori on underside of resurrection fern
Quill-leaf and air plants, Mike’s, as are the rest in this post
Deadly poisonous rosary pea
It had been cold recently, and the armadillos were out. One of them squeeked at us and scampered off.
Across the river a spunky kingfisher landed on a dead palm, although still quite far away