Friday, May 11, 2007

Wakulla River

I decided to head back out the Wakulla River yesterday. While there are sometimes fewer photo opportunities there, it’s a fun river to paddle and I hadn’t been there for a while.

I encountered a few other paddlers and some people fishing along the edge, but for much of the time I had the river seemingly to myself, which was nice. The first bird I saw was a juvenile little blue heron. It’s interesting that I have not yet seen any of these youngsters on the Wacissa this year, given the large number of little blue herons there.

I have been thrilled over the past few weeks by all the yellow crowned night herons I have seen. These are such impressive-looking birds and, as the name implies, not altogether a common sight during the daytime. I’ve noticed that the light part of their head coloring often appears more yellow in person than it shows in photos (sunshine reflection effect, I guess), although I also see them with no apparent yellow. My bird book describes the crown as white. Go figure.

As I was paddling upstream and approaching the Mysterious Waters ramp, I spotted an otter diving near a dock ahead of me. I watched as it caught something and took it to the far side of a large shoreline cypress tree to eat it, which gave me a perfect opportunity to catch up to it without being seen—in fact, it didn’t see me until I was next to it.

It just went on eating whatever it had caught.

This great egret kept landing just a little ahead of me and then flying farther ahead of me every time I got close. This went on for over a mile of river. It did finally sit still long enough for a photo.

I circled the little island near the upper ramp and headed back downstream. This anhinga was perched on a branch sticking up out of the water, drying its wings. I haven’t seen as many of these birds this year as in other years.

It seems that the wood ducks on this river are having babies now, too! I didn’t expect to see any but these were swimming along near the river’s edge.

As with most animals, the ones on this river seem less timid than those on the Wacissa. This may be due to there just being more people here—docks line most of this section of river, and I think there are more boaters as well.

The male wood ducks are not any braver here, though. As I was drifting downstream, I saw the distinctive outlines of two wood ducks swimming in a woodsy area just off the main river. I slipped in there quietly and sat very still, camera to my face, for a rather long time. Four ducks finally emerged, two males and two females. The opening was small but I managed to get a few photos before they went back into the woods.

It was a good day. I need to get back to this river more often. I didn’t see any manatees, but I’m sure they were there somewhere. There were a few small gators sunning themselves.

It sounded for a while as if Andrea, the tropical storm, was going to end what I heard a newscaster call our “unprecedented period of drought,” but she seems to have fizzled out. Thunderstorms are predicted for areas of Florida, but as I write this Friday morning, the sun is beaming out of a blue sky and the birds are chirping. Looks like I might be getting out some more next week. Stand by.

1 comment:

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Anhinga? Whatinell is an anhinga? (I love a mystery.)

It's good you can be on the water. Forest fires can't get you there.