Photo Essay: Florida’s Creature Comforts

 

Categories: M&M Melted Photos United States

 
A is for Armadillo: Spotted at Lake Kissimmee State Park in Florida.

A is for Armadillo: Spotted at Lake Kissimmee State Park in Florida.

B is for Bald Eagle: Boyd Hill Nature Park, St  Petersburg.

B is for Bald Eagle: Boyd Hill Nature Park, St Petersburg.

It’s a jungle out there, especially if you cache in the American state of Florida …

Just ask Marc and Mimi Barrison (GC handle: M&M Melted), who have been documenting the wildlife they encounter on their home turf since they took up geocaching in July 2003. 

Marc

Marc

Having recently profiled Mimi Barrison’s knitted geo-creations, It’s Not About The Numbers couldn’t resist sharing her husband’s photographic prowess as well.

Marc Barrison, who uses a Nikon D40 SLR camera, has always enjoyed photography but says geocaching has provided an incredible outlet for his other interest – though admittedly many of his animal shots involved considerable luck.

D is for Dragonfly: Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.

D is for Dragonfly: Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.

“The name of your website, It’s Not About the Numbers, is truly what we’re about.  While in most cases, the animals in these photos were not sought out intentionally, if all we were doing while geocaching was focusing on the next cache instead of the amazing world around us, we never would have seen or been able to capture these great photo opportunities and experiences,” he says.

E is for Egret: Caladesi Island State Park, Clearwater.

E is for Egret: Caladesi Island State Park, Clearwater.

Thankfully, the couple have never been injured during an animal encounter, Mimi adds.

“As far as the alligators are concerned, if we see one on the trail we either wait for it to continue on its way, give it a wide berth or find an alternate approach to the cache. 

“If we are paddling on the river, the gators don’t bother us as long as we don’t bother them.  There have been times when a gator would swim underneath our kayak or we would paddle next to them, but they generally don’t want anything to do with us. 

F is for Ferdinand (the Alligator): Crew Rookery in Naples.

F is for Ferdinand (the Alligator): Crew Rookery in Naples.

“The danger comes when people feed the gators, then they lose their fear of humans and that’s when there are problems.

“Also, we do not swim in Florida rivers and we never bring our dogs on the rivers with us since gators love dogs!

“And, of course, we have to be on the lookout for snakes. There are six venomous snakes in Florida – the Pygmy Rattlesnake, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth,  Copperhead and Coral Snake – and it’s important to be able to identify them.”

G is for Gopher Tortoise: Gator Creek Reserve, Lakeland.

G is for Gopher Tortoise: Gator Creek Reserve, Lakeland.

She recommends the University of Florida’s Johnson Lab website as a good source for this. “As always, the key is caution. Watch your step. If you’re bushwhacking,  especially through saw palmettos, always tread carefully and try not to walk where you can’t see your feet.  Otherwise, bring a poking stick with you to check around for hidden creepy crawlie stuff. 

I is for Ibis: Welcome To Gulfport.

H is for (Great Blue) Heron: Lovers Key State Park, Bonita Springs.

I is for Ibis: Gulfport.

“There was a time we saw a huge Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake stretched out across a trail in a suburban park. In that case, I quickly did an about-face and headed in a different direction – unfortunately, there are no photos of that one.”

Of all the species they’ve snapped, the Barrisons rate their manatee sightings as a highlight.  “There is a virtual cache located at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida called GCC067 See Cows, where there many opportunities to view these gentle creatures of the sea. This is one of our favorite all-time virtual caches.

M is for Manatees: Apollo Beach.

M is for Manatees: Apollo Beach.

Snake

P is for Pelican: Anna Maria Island. R is for (Dusky Pygmy) Rattlesnake: Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Park, Thonatasassa.

“We also love the water fowl that we see along the local waterways. Pelicans, roseate spoonbill, herons and egrets are just a few of these incredible birds. The scariest animals are probably the poisonous snakes but, as long as we exercise caution, it’s okay.”

S is for (Roseate) Spoonbill: Emerson Point, Bradenton.

S is for (Roseate) Spoonbill: Emerson Point, Bradenton.

Despite having ticked off the majority of entries on Wikipedia’s list of iconic Florida wildlife, the couple are still hoping to spot a Florida Panther in their travels.  “Hopefully soon!”

That certainly beats the fauna dwelling here in the not-so-wilds of New Zealand hands down.

*What’s the most unusual animal you’ve ever met while out caching? Tell us in the comments below … Better still if you have a photo, we’d love to see it.
S is for (Grey) Squirrel: Tampa.

S is for (Grey) Squirrel: Tampa.

T is for (Slider) Turtles: Rainbow Springs State Park.

T is for (Slider) Turtles: Rainbow Springs State Park.

 
 



 

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