One of our favourite pastimes of recent months, especially in Florida, has been wildlife spotting. I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy this aspect of the year but the variety and availability of all creatures great and small here has really caught my imagination. Here are a few of our favourites to date:
Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This great herd of elk were hanging out in a meadow on the side of the road as we were leaving the park. John was particularly happy as he and his friend Cesco have a big love of elk…it’s a guy thing!
White squirrels in Brevard, North Carolina
Quick plug for the wonderful Brevard and the fabled white squirrels, which it turns out are real…
Racoons in Bill Baggs State Park, near Miami
These guys have clearly been fed too often and were waiting for us when we got back to our car
Gopher tortoises on the Gulf Coast
The first we saw was a lovely guy ambling along the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park – see our IG feed for the video. We came across the one pictured here on Christmas Day at Sanibel Island beach.
Alligators on the Panhandle
We saw our first gator on Big Pine Key, but this one was just feet from John in a shallow lake at St. Andrew’s State Park. A local man who took us to him said he’s about 7 feet long under the water!
Key Deer on Big Pine Key
This was another ‘do they really exist’ moment for us, as we spent a rainy morning wandering around the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, keeping our eyes peeled for the dwarf deer species who were marooned here when the seas rose about 20,000 year ago. We saw none in the woody scrub of the reserve but just as we’d given up hope, we came across a group hanging out by the road. Which is where deer mostly seem to hang out and probably why so many end up on car bumpers, hence the need for the refuge!
Portuguese Men O’War at Bahia Honda State Park
These jellyfish-like creatures look beautiful but are potentially deadly, and we saw dozens washed up on the east beach at Bahia Honda, one every couple of metres along the shore line. No swimming for us on that beach but I was fascinated to look at these and see they are a lot smaller than we expected (mostly the size of my palm).
Not so much wildlife…a python around a man’s shoulders and a lima and a parrot on bikes.
You seem some strange creatures on the streets in Florida, not just the animal variety!
And my personal favourite….dogs on a paddle board in the Florida Keys.
The eagle-eyed among you will note that the parrot is the only bird featured, and this is because he fits the cycle theme. I’ll be writing a separate post about our new love of twitching, the birds here have really captured our hearts.