Monday, December 18, 2006

Bambi on the Wakulla

I hadn’t been to the Wakulla for a long time. The tide was about right today for a trip and so I packed up the new kayak and headed out.

The wide part of the river by the boat ramp was a bit of a challenge, as it always is (except at high tide). But once past that, the current slowed considerably; the tide was coming in while I was there. I hadn’t gone very far before I heard the sound of something crashing through the woods to my right, followed by splashing. I looked over and saw—for the first time ever by this river—a deer. Even though I have never seen one here, it was up to that point fairly normal—a deer in the woods. However, then it jumped in the water and began swimming.

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I stopped paddling and let momentum move me forward and it swam alongside me for a while.

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Eventually I stopped, at which point it swam across the river in front of me. I let the current take me downstream a little just to not scare it. It crossed the river—

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--and scrambled up on the bank and ran away.

That was very strange—never seen that before!

I continued on. I really like this river. While there are several docks at the water, there is also a lot of natural wilderness there. The water is crystal clear. Once you leave the boat ramp area and the road by it, it gets very quiet.

I passed three other paddlers. They told me they had seen a lone manatee up by the island. I told them a deer had crossed the river right in front of me. I think the swimming deer trumped the manatee.

There were more ibis on the river today than I have ever seen in any one area—near the top there were at least two dozen together. There were fewer in the lower half. This one watched me paddle by.

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And of course there are always turtles on this river! Look, Ma, no hands or feet!

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When I got near the top I entered the backwater part of the river, which is narrow and close. An otter spotted me and jumped from a small island into the water and was gone. The ibis were noisy. These three watched from their high perch.

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I decided not to go all the way to the upper boat ramp, so I started my downriver float earlier than usual. Needless to say, the belted kingfishers were swooping around and making their chipping sound the whole time. I caught this one in mid-swoop.

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I passed several small groups of blooming flowers—these same flowers were blooming during the summer, so they must be somewhat hardy.

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This was a summery shorts-and-t-shirt day with very little wind. Perfect day to be on the water. And yet I only encountered the three paddlers who had seen the manatee and one couple in a canoe and one guy fishing.

This is the time of year that great blue herons tend to blend into the scenery since the trees are all brown and gray and the birds are difficult to spot. I had to actually turn around and paddle back upstream a little way to get myself positioned to photograph this little one, who was a few feet back from the water’s edge.

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When it turned to look the other way, I took one of just its head. These birds are so primitive looking. Not too soft and cute, but pretty impressive.

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For soft and cute, there were a lot of these little birds flitting around. I’m pretty sure this is a phoebe.

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I never did see the manatee, on either pass by the island. I was also hoping to see at least one merganser—it was about this time last year that I paddled next to one on this river for quite a distance. I spotted a group of grebes in the middle of the river, but by the time I got to them, they had ducked underwater and no doubt were some distance away.

This egret was sitting a few feet into the woods along the shoreline. The breeze ruffled its feathers just a bit.

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I was out over four hours today. No symptoms of kayak butt despite taking no breaks from paddling—the Prijon is a comfy boat! It’s supposed to be warm again tomorrow. If nothing gets in the way, I’d like to get back to the Wacissa again and this time cover more ground than just back and forth within the first mile. Stand by.


pineyflatwoodsgirl said...

Geez, I thought I had a religious experience with all the critters Saturday at the Wacissa....but you've got deer swimming with you like porpoises...."you still da woman"! great photos...I think we might have been Indian squaws in another life!

clairesgarden said...

wow, thats incredible!
your boat is coming up nice and red on my screen here. very new and shiny!!

Cathy said...

COOL! A deer swimming right by often does that happen! What a cool way to start your paddle out. I have heard of deer swimming, but have never seen it. Your pictures are great and the yak was red on my screen too. Hope you have a great Christmas.