Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wakulla Springs State Park River Tour

Yesterday my husband and I decided to visit Wakulla Springs State Park. While I did not go paddling (hmm, this is getting to be a trend on this “paddling” blog), I have decided to include the photos here since the Wakulla is my primary paddling river.

We took the boat tour, which cruises the water from the spring to the vicinity of the fence that keeps paddlers and other boaters out of this section. I have never seen this part of the river.

The osprey have arrived in this section as well. This one seems to be glaring down at the boat from its nest, probably wishing for a little peace and quiet (that boat and the highly amplified voice of the tour director create much more noise than anything on the lower section).

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It was a bit breezy. This egret was getting its feathers considerably ruffled.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I don’t think it appreciated photos being taken when it was looking less elegant than usual.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We passed large groups of American wigeons (which I think I incorrectly identified in previous posts when I saw them at St. Marks). I had just paddled the Wakulla the day before and saw none of these in the lower section, so they must prefer this part of the river.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As with the other birds, they seemed unafraid of the boat. These boats run very often every day so I guess they are just used to them.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Usually a photo of a common moorhen in this blog is an indication that I have an itchy shutter finger and have resorted to taking moorhens since nothing more interesting has appeared. I took this one, though, because I was able to take the 500mm lens with me and so I could get more detail than usual.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here’s the deal if you take this river cruise (which I highly recommend, tickets cost $6.00). If you are interested in ducks and egrets and other swimming waterfowl, as well as turtles, then sit on the left side (from the facing-forward perspective). We sat on the left side. If you are interested in gators, snakes, and (sigh) wood ducks, sit on the right side. The boat (at least ours, and I assume all of them) makes a counter-clockwise circle instead of going out and back, and so the people on the water side are always on the water side, and those on the shoreline side are always on the shoreline side. A full boat will have three people per bench seat, and so if you are at the outside edge, you will have an excellent view of everything on your side, but limited or no view of anything on the other side. Unless, of course, you can get in the front of the line and sit in a front seat. The tour director stands in the back, and when the boat passes something of interest, the tour director may back up so that those in front can see it. The front seats were taken when we boarded so we went to the back seat, which worked out almost as well since I could point the camera out the back.

We passed many gators along the banks, most of them the same small sizes that show up in the lower section.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We did pass one extremely big gator. A large group of Japanese tourists filled the right side of the boat and many, many digital cameras were up and clicking when we stopped next to it!

I’m planning a trip to the Gulf to hopefully get in some saltwater paddling. Stand by.

No comments: