Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Theme Park Wildlife, Florida

Although I never took anything other than a compact digital camera the theme parks threw up some surprises in terms of wildlife. As with most of Florida it wasn't unusual to see black vultures, ospreys and even the odd stork overhead, and grackles and house sparrows used the space just as starlings and sparrows might at home.

I suppose gulls are fairly commonplace, it's just that here they were Ringbilled rather than Herring.

More of a surprise were the egrets and herons that had lost their fear of being near humans - especially the egrets at Seaworld whenever there was the hint of fish being fed to something. They even seemed to know the times the orca and dolphin shows started, and would fly in to see what they could grab from the treats used to reward the dolphins. This one was perched at a stingray touch pool.

Probably the biggest surprise were the White Ibis which ran around peoples feet at outdoor tables in the way that pigeons would at home. I've discovered I never took a photo of that, just video, but I did take this more scenic shot at Seaworld, from one of the cafes.

At Busch Gardens the hippo pool was stocked with cichlids (you can just about see them through the glass in the background), and this juvenile Black Capped Night Heron (the only one I saw) was happily sitting out in full view - although it wasn't doing much.

Then to top it all just inside the entrance at Epcot were these nest boxes, actually being used by this Purple Martin - shame I only had the compact.

This rabbit was also at Epcot - the only one we saw on the whole holiday, sitting contentedly a few feet from the throng.

Overall though, I have to say one of best looking birds was the flamingo at Universal Mardi Gras, but I'm not sure how wild she was .......

Next instalment will be back to some real wildlife that we saw at some of the refuges (yeah I wondered too - it's just what they call nature reserves).

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