Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Making Up For Lost Time; Back To The Wakulla

Two paddle trips in two days!  I should be about caught up now.

I wasn't sure I was going to post this trip--nothing photo-worthy presented itself in the first hour of paddling. However, it was comfortable on the river--certainly less sweltering than elsewhere. The breeze blowing over the 72-degree water was actually cool at times.

And then this red-shouldered hawk (the Florida sub-species variety) appeared on top of a wood duck house, so how could I resist?

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The river was pretty empty today. In fact, the parking lot to the boat ramp was completely empty when I arrived.  There were two cars parked at the adjacent canoe and kayak rental place. I did pass two people in rental kayaks shortly after launching.

Lots of little gators perched on logs along the river--I think these are last year's babies off on their own now while Mom prepares for the next batch.

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I ducked into the only backwater area I could access at low tide (the tide table website I use was way off this time as far as both timing and the amount of the drop at low tide). I followed an otter swimming some distance ahead of me. The picture just looks like a bump in the water (its head), so I will not include it here. It's pretty in the off-river areas. I surprised a little blue heron to my right; it was so nearby that I would have had to remove the zoom lens to get a picture of it! I was surprised it did not fly off when I passed so close, but rather walked calmly in the other direction.

This ibis, in contrast, was extremely shy. It hid from me in the bushes and kept peering out, peek-a-boo style, as I paddled by.

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I reached the upper ramp and got out to submerge in the cold water. It's amazing what a difference that can make--and it's cold water!  Thus refreshed, I started my drift downstream.

What would a Wakulla trip report be without a turtle photo?

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I had a somewhat disconcerting moment during the downstream journey. I was above about 6' of water, which is of course crystal-clear (this river is spring-fed). The bottom had no vegetation, so I could see the sand and small shell bits covering it. I was mostly, though, watching the shoreline for green herons or other small birds that tend to hang out along the edges. Therefore, I did not notice until it was pretty much directly below me that I was passing over a fairly large alligator, lying on the river bottom perpendicular to the direction I was going. I don't like passing over harmless manatees, much less carnivores. The only up side to this was that I believe it heard me coming, so it was not startled (which might have not worked out so well for me and the camera, staying-in-the-boat-wise). Shortly before reaching that point, I had dipped my hands in the water and swirled them around a little to cool off my arms. I read that alligators have very acute underwater hearing, so it must have heard this splashing. Nevertheless, it was disconcerting, and in all the years of paddling this and the equally-clear Wacissa, I have never had that happen. (I figure the gator probably told its friends later "I've never had one of those things actually pass right over me! Scary!")

And speaking of gators, here's another one that was basking in the sun rather than totally submerged on the bottom.

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I saw an ibis in a tree and crossed the river to get the picture. Looks like a youngish one, finally getting the last of its solid white color.

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It was a nice day to be on the river--I certainly was a lot cooler while in the kayak than in the car coming home.

Stand by for the next trip (I have no plans to go tomorrow and make it a 3-day run...).

1 comment:

clairesgarden said...

I envy you having such a great place to apddle, great pictures!