25 April 2015

V Is For Vultures & Other Nonsense {Manatee Springs State Park, Florida}

During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we’ll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with “A is for Adventurous” and ending with “Z is for Zinc”. We've got a theme for every letter sorted except for Y. If you have any ideas for the letter Y, please leave a comment or email.

I’m a bit of a scaredy cat. Bears scare the crap out of me. Sharks scare the crap out of me. And now vultures scare the crap out of me.

One vulture on its own is bad enough, but when you get a gang of vultures, that’s when you know you’re in trouble. Pure evil. We ran into this gang of vultures at Manatee Springs State Park in Florida.

Vultures Manatee Springs

You can feel their beady eyes staring at you as they will you to stumble off of the boardwalk and into the swamp where an alligator can eat you. The vultures have a pact with the alligators. They fly fast and furiously at humans, causing them to lose their balance and tumble into the water. Then the alligators snap the humans in half and feast on them. But the gators always leave enough meat on the carcass for the vultures to finish off. It’s a win-win for both parties.

Boardwalk Manatee Springs

I wish they wouldn’t have signs like this one warning you about the alligators. I’d rather be oblivious to the fact they’re lurking out there. It kind of takes away from enjoying things when you’re constantly looking over your shoulder to see if an alligator is sneaking up on you.

Alligator Sign

The park used to be called Vulture Springs State Park, but it started to get a lot of bad PR with all of the vultures and alligators attacking the tourists, so the rangers had the clever idea to start calling it Manatee Springs State Park instead. Manatees are adorable and, more importantly, they’re harmless vegetarians. They have no interest in adding humans to their diet. 

If you aren’t a scaredy cat like me and don’t mind vultures and alligators, then Vulture Manatee Springs State Park is a great place for a visit. Located near Chiefland in northwestern Florida, the park is known for its first magnitude spring which draws the manatees to the area in the winter. They travel up a stream which connects the spring to the Lower Suwannee River and then bask in the warm water. People flock to the area to get a glimpse of the manatees and take lots of pictures. Usually, all they get is just the nose breaking the surface every few minutes for a breath of air. There is also free WiFi nearby which may possibly be more of a draw then the manatees for those of us tired of spending so much money on cellular data to keep up with our blogging.

Manatee Underwater

Manatee Nose2

If vultures, alligators and manatees aren’t your thing, then there is also a nice nature walk in the north part of the park. Pick up one of the trail guides and nominate someone to read aloud as you get to each marker. Pick someone who can do funny voices while reading about native trees. Better yet, pick someone who can act out a Monty Python skit while reading about native trees. Because sometimes these trail guides can get a little dry and a bit of silly humor goes a long way. I’ll leave you to guess which one of us does the Monty Python reenactments. Hint – it’s not me. What’s the secret to 20+ years of marriage – one person being silly and making the other person laugh. 

Anyhoo, back to some more pictures – this time from our nature walk. The numbering on the trail guide goes a little kitty-wampus about halfway through. So while we were looking at this Seminole hut, we were reading about native trees. A bit confusing. 

Seminole Hut Manatee Springs

Seminole Hut Manatee Springs2

I remember when I was a little girl, I got a Seminole Indian doll on one of our trips to Florida. I thought it was the neatest thing. I loved the colorful patchwork skirt that she wore.

Besides bringing back childhood memories, the best part of the nature trail is that we didn’t see any alligators. Scott kept hoping we would see one. He would have settled for a snake. Poor thing was disappointed.

Are you scared of any animals?

We kept an eye out for vultures and alligators at Manatee Springs State Park on 25-27 January 2015.

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  1. The alligator sign reminded me of the time we rented a cabin in Gatlinburg. We had a house full of kids. There were signs everywhere warning about bears nearby. We never saw a single bear but I kept thinking that, while the warnings were nice of them, perhaps they should have put them somewhere that kids couldn't see them.

    1. So true - the signs are sometimes worse than the critters they warn you about :-)

  2. Was there three weeks ago for a day trip. Beautiful place but keep your eyes out for snakes sunning in the trees and bushes. Down at the spring must have twenty snakes sunning and I love to swim in those springs.

    1. Yikes! I'm glad I didn't know about the snakes when I was there. What are the springs like to swim in? It was too cold when we were there to even think about getting in the water.

  3. Fascinating! Nice to find you on the A to Z Challenge, even if I am a bit late!

  4. I am scared of lots of animals, especially big, black dogs running towards me with spiky collars. I never really thought about vultures and alligators before, but your story of their teamwork is pretty scary.

    1. Do you like big, black dogs running towards you if they don't have spiky collars? We had a big, black dog once - she was a sweetheart.

  5. Y words... yacht, Yosemite... that's all I can think of for now.

    1. Yacht is an interesting one - a number of people have suggested that. Let's see what tomorrow brings in terms of a Y post :-)


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