Oh, yeah, the Manatees WINTER here (are they from New York?) So none of them are around this month. Otherwise pretty wild times here in Manatee Springs. I think maybe we made a wrong turn and ended up in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. First night in camp we had nearly a dozen deer walking through the campsite (I think our guys from home sent out a text message to be on the lookout for us) and on a walk to the spring we had two sharp-shinned hawks swooping and perching near us and two pileated woodpeckers flying to a tree trunk in front of us, making their way up the trunk.
Then when we were on the boardwalk along the Suwannee River we heard the barred owls hooting like back home and the huge Gulf Sturgeon jumping out of the water. We are told they can get up to several hundred pounds, but don’t feed in the river (just knock out a few boaters every season, seriously). Of course I didn’t have my camera.
The camp is nice and quiet, but swimming hole/spring is pretty busy with daytime swimmers. The water is crystal clear, 72 degrees (bracing) and has a pretty swift flow. Not much underwater except catfish and a few bass and sunfish. When paddleboarding down to the Suwanee River we passed a small gator, later spotting a 7 foot one just off the mouth of the spring in the river.
On a bike hike this morning we found a gopher tortise who scrambled into his burrow (good thing Jackie took that field class in South Georgia to learn about Indigo snakes and gopher tortises. She said rattlers and others share the burrow). This time I had my camera with me and we spooked a barred owl, caught up with another sharp-shinned hawk and just had a nice (hot) ride. A dip in the spring took care of that! later in the day I spotted a swallowtail kite and a bright yellow warbler that turns out to be a Prothonotary warbler.
Friday we travel to St. Augustine to meet up with my brother and his wife and hopefully to have dinner out with the Brownlees. Benji and Merlin say hi.
Gopher tortise in his burrow. Probably a foot in size.
Sunset view as the springs reach the Suwannee River.
Banded water snake, probably was 4 foot long.
Got the Pileated later on…