Favorite thing: These cool-looking birds are found everywhere in South Florida. They are primarily shore birds who come inland to take advantage of easy meals left by people in trash cans (as you can see in the photo). They are so common in fact that people were looking at me funny when I was photographing them! If anyone knows the proper name of these birds, please let me know!
Favorite thing: These little lizards range in length from about 1 1/2 inches (5 cm) to about 4 inches (10.15 cm) and they are ablsolutely everywhere you look. As you walk down the sidewalk, you can catch them out of the corner of your eye zipping across the pavement and running up trees and fences. They are common in most tropical and sub-tropical climates and seeing them always makes me feel like I'm someplace exotic. Don't try to catch one though, they're super fast! Even getting a picture of one was a tough job!
Favorite thing: Mantatees are huge aquatic mammals native to Florida. They are closely related to dolphins and whales and live mostly in fresh or brackish water. Manatees are very slow-moving creatures and are often killed by outboard motors on speed boats. Many Floridians that we spoke with told us that they see manatees quite frequently though they are high on the national endangered species list and are federally protected. They range in size from 6 - 12 feet (15.5 - 30.5 meters) and have heads that seem much too small for their bodies! In spite of their large size, manatees are vegetarians and eat mostly leafy aquatic plants.
Geckos in the Tampa area include the Indo-Pacific Gecko and the Mediterranean Gecko. These little creatures, typically ranging in size from one to five inches are everywhere. On the sidewalk, on walls, on fences, on people, being chased by cats. Yes, the cats love to harass geckos, but geckos are typically too fast and leery for the cats. Though our cat did chase a big one into the house and around the house for an hour before we finally caught it and released it.
On a few other occasions, we had a gecko camped out on our windshield wipers as we drove down the road. He held on for dear life, but survived the journey.
Fun stuff in Tampa!
Go see Wildlife on easy street. Only locals really know about it. It is a rescue sanctuary for big cats. They are non-profit so for really cheap they will take you on a tour of the place and if you are really nice they might let you pet a tiger. http://www.wildlifeeasyst.com/
Fondest memory: Your chances of seeing snow are one in a million!
One evening we decided to go fishing off a dock in the Intracoastal Waterway, and we were happy to see two dolphins frolicking the in water. For 20 or 30 minutes they swam around, but never coming closer than 50 feet or so to shore. They were very easy to spot in the calm water with the late afternoon reflections making the surface look like glass.
In the Tampa area you can go on dolphin cruises and even swim with the dolphins at Sea World.