Monday, May 22, 2006

Wood Duck Day on the Wacissa

Well, right off the bat I have to apologize to any dial-up users who may be reading this blog. This post will have a lot of pictures, with a few larger than usual because...well, because I think they need to be that size. So this page may be even slower than usual.

After the male wood duck sightings today, I think I might have to take them off my "Most sought-after photos" list. This is the third successive paddling trip on which I have been able to take multiple pictures of male wood ducks. Yikes.

I got to the Wacissa early and was in the water by 11. One truck with a trailer in the parking lot and two men fishing on the bank, and that was all. In fact, I never saw another boat of any sort for the entire 3 hours I was on the water. Maybe that had something to do with the male wood ducks hanging out everywhere.

I'll start with the wood duck pictures to get them out of the way. This is a very small sampling of what I got--several male/female sets are not shown here at all (I do recognize the fact that all male wood ducks tend to look alike and I want to try to avoid the boredom factor for any visitors who are just not that taken with them.)

My favorite, a group shot. Second from the left, blending into the background, is a female.
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I got a few pictures of single woodies:

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as well as a single female, whose mate had jumped off the log when it saw me coming (I think I might have heard it yell "Every duck for itself!" as it abandoned its mate...).

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And finally, I saw this pair a little farther downstream

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And that concludes the wood duck sighting part of this post.

Meanwhile, I finally came to some limpkins, in a couple of areas of the river, that were not as shy as others have been this year. Last summer these birds were the easiest to photograph. A person in a speedboat could motor right up to one of them and get an excellent close-up with a disposable digital camera bought at a drugstore. But this year they have been very shy, flying into the trees in the woods that line the river at even the sight of a paddler. Today they seemed more accepting.
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This one groomed itself for awhile while I was sitting nearby having a little mid-paddle snack.
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I didn't go all the way to Cedar Island. For much of my time drifting and paddling downstream, I had a fairly brisk wind at my back, and so fighting that and current to get back to the boat ramp stayed on my mind during the first half of the day. So I only went as far as the little boat ramp just short of the island. As it turned out, the wind all but died away completely during the upstream paddle, and I could certainly have extended my time on the water by circling the island. Who knew?
I passed this great blue heron on the way back to the boat ramp. These are my second-favorite water birds.
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While I was parked in the surface horticulture getting that picture above, I looked to my left and saw this egret posing with a light breeze ruffling its feathers.
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I got back to the boat ramp all too soon, but decided to call it a day instead of going back downstream again. There's kind of a long, narrow channel that you go through as you approach the boat ramp, with lots of surface growth, and this is where many little blue herons and other smaller birds often hang out. I saw another one that was apparently in the process of changing color.
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This was a really great day.
Congratulations to The Kayak Blog for starting a new site, and many thanks for the link on your Blogroll. Happy paddling!
Looks like we have good paddling weather coming up, I'm looking forward to getting back out. Stand by.


pineyflatwoodsgirl said...

Ha! You definitely get the prize for the most woodducks photographed in one paddling! Sorry I didn't make it. Preparations for the Florida Folk Festival have kept me tied up during free time...I need to be out, but four days of camping at White Springs will satisfy my camping jones! Ya'll come!

The Kayak Blog said...

Thanks for the congrats! Hopefully I can add some fun kayak stuff on my blog.
Keep up that great bird photography!