Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Osprey on the Wakulla River

The ospreys are back in the trees that line the river and swooping over it, and it’s good to see them (and hear them)! Shortly after you leave the boat ramp and begin upstream, look wa-a-a-a-ay up in the trees on the left bank and you will see the osprey nest and most likely at least one of the residents in it or nearby.

One of those decided to check me out, after I had checked it out.

I got there at high tide, always a great time to be paddling. This osprey had been perched in a cypress tree on the right side of the river, looking down into the water. Looks like maybe it saw something of interest in the river.

And off it goes after its prey. Those claws are pretty impressive and very effective fishing devices.

It was a very peaceful paddle with only a little wind. There were several other paddlers on the river and a couple of pontoon boats. Evidently someone spotted a manatee, but I never saw it.

About halfway to the top, who should appear? None other than, back for a repeat performance, The Amazing Balancing Turtle Duo!

This great blue heron was sitting in the reeds, perhaps thinking that if it sat perfectly still, I wouldn’t see it.

Back to the ospreys. This one, a male I believe, based on the lack of color on its chest, was sitting on the branch of a tree as I approached while drifting downstream.

Eventually I got a little too close for its comfort and it took off from its perch

and flew downstream.

I came to a green heron, which was fun since they seem to be less common on our rivers this year.

It also decided to fly away.

(You gotta love their bright yellow legs!)

The gators were out, as usual. This one was taking an afternoon siesta on a log just beyond the river bank.

It’s been a while since I have posted an artsy black and white picture. Even as I was taking this one I was thinking it would translate well to black and white.

I’m not sure when the next paddling day will be, I might be able to squeeze one more in this week. Dear Husband is on vacation next week—maybe we will get out to one of my rivers together. Stand by.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

On the Wacissa in the Repaired Mystic!

I was filled with trepidation on my way to pick up my newly-repaired Mystic. I’m sorry I didn’t take a “before” picture, but the fiberglass carnage was just too distressing to want to commit to the permanence of a posted photo. There were two damaged areas—a very large gaping fissure from the hatch across the deck and down into the hull, and two holes on the bottom.

When they took me to the repaired boat, it was sitting hull-side-up on sawhorses. The bottom looked fine, but my concern was for the deck. How much of a scar was there going to be? We flipped it over.

I was literally open-mouthed. Not only was there no (no!) sign of damage, the repaired area looked like the boat looked when it was new. The only way you could tell where it was repaired was that that area was not sun-faded with light surface scratches, like the rest of the deck!

The arrow points to where the gaping fissure was. I have now looked twice and cannot locate the repairs to the hull. I don’t remember exactly where the holes were. FYI if you are in the Tallahassee area and need anything fiberglass repaired, I can now highly recommend “Tracy Haire Fiberglass and Boat Repair” ((850) 576-0999).

So off I went to the Wacissa. Abby and a friend of hers were coming later, so I set off alone downriver, very happy to be back in my #1 boat. I hadn’t gone far when I saw the first tricolored heron. These birds were more plentiful last year. It sat nicely for a while

And then flew away.

I watched this egret in the grass for a while. It was so busy fishing for lunch that it didn’t seem to notice me. When it saw something of interest, it dropped its head down to get it and nearly fell over into the water, waving its wings around to regain its balance.

What’s a trip to the Wacissa without a visit to blue spring? As often happens on a weekday, I was the only one in there. There’s a small downed tree on which a yellow crowned night heron usually sits. As I approached the tree, I thought I saw the heron on it. However, as I got closer, I noticed that it was a hawk. And it did not move as I got even closer. And then I heard what sounded like a juvenile hawk in the woods nearby, which might have explained why this one did not fly away. It did spread its wings a little and just sat like that as I went by, I assume to appear larger and frighten me.

I floated on down to what has now been dubbed “Purple Gallinule Alley,” a stretch of water that winds between reeds and tall grasses and is where all the purple gallinules hang out (you probably figured that out). There are still young ones in there.

There are also moorhen chicks. This seems to be three generations: the one in front is a juvenile, then chicks, then the adult.

These babies were on the opposite side of the channel from their parent, who made a lot of noise the whole time I passed. I particularly like the one on the left, who is watching me go by.

It was about the time Abby and her friend were to arrive at the river, so I turned around. This snowy egret took off and went swooping by in front of me.

On the way back upstream, I came to another tricolored heron, this one perched on a stump in the water. It sat there for a long time while I paddled toward it,

and then left to look for someplace less crowded.

I met Abby and her friend near little blue spring and so I turned around and we three progressed downstream again. This snowy egret was fishing in the surface seaweed. I really like these little birds, particularly when the topknot blows in the wind.

And then Abby spotted some swallow-tail kites circling overhead. These are gorgeous birds when they are flying, their shape is very distinctive. In a departure from the usual format here, I am going to show you two versions of the same photo. This one shows the bird overhead against the clouds.

This is the same photo, cropped a bit and enlarged so you can see the coloration better.

As we were nearing the boat ramp, I spotted a great blue heron on the shoreline.

It took off and flew in front of us as we got closer.

I like these birds and have often thought about how prehistoric they look, particularly the great blue herons and great egrets. So I looked around on the web and found some information about pterosaurs, which lived over 65 million years ago. I’d say there’s a certain similarity.

(I didn’t take that picture…)

As we got even closer to the ramp, Abby and I spotted a yellow crowned night heron drying its wings, and the sound of camera shutters clicking filled the air. You don’t often get to see birds in this position, which it held the entire time we were parked and photographing it.

It was a long day of paddling and a wee bit warm out, but great fun nonetheless. Stand by for the next trip report.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Another Short Day on the Wacissa

Well, still no Mystic. So far the promised completion dates have been June 14, 18th, and now I’m told it will be ready the 20th. The thing is, if the guy had just told me it would be two weeks to begin with, I would have felt that that was more than a satisfactory turn-around time for that kind of repair when he certainly had backlog when I dropped the Mystic off. Meanwhile, that quiet hissing sound is the air slowly leaking out of my confidence balloon. Who knows when I will get my boat back? He may not have even started working on it yet.

So I loaded up the Prijon for an extremely abbreviated paddle on the Wacissa. Rain is predicted for much of the rest of the week (in fact, thunder rumbles while I type this) so I decided to get out while I still could.

The ibis were obliging today, this one perched on one leg on a tree branch,

and this one along the shoreline.

I didn’t go much past the blue spring inlet on my way downstream. This great blue heron was hunkered down in the water on the other side of some grasses and I was able to sneak up on him before he saw me.

On my way back upstream I managed to (slightly) harass an egret. It was ahead of me and away from the shoreline. As I would get close it would lift off

but only fly a little way and settle again. Then I would progress toward it and it would lift off again.

I finally decided to give it a little more space and paddled closer to the shoreline till I was past it.

This little snowy egret was perched on a stump in the water and watched me go by. Notice all the apple snail eggs on the stump—good news for the limpkins!

I think this is actually the same yellow crowned night heron as pictured in last Wacissa post—it was in precisely the same spot, right near the boat ramp. I guess it has staked out that territory. It did not mind my proximity at all.

An unusually short paddling day but it was nice to get back to this river. Not sure when the next trip out will be, unless they are mistaken about the rain (gee, has that ever happened?). Stand by.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Warm Day on the Wacissa

You can’t ever get tired of this river. The birds change according to season and day-to-day (chicks grow into adults, migrating birds pass through) and the shoreline changes as well as the seasons pass. And this really is the Bird River.

One of the first birds I saw was a green heron along the shoreline. This is a bird that is only on this river around this time. First it watched me approach—here’s another photo of a green heron head-on (I wonder if this is the same one as before?)

As before, it lost interest and stopped staring at me,

but only briefly, before it decided to hang out elsewhere. Now here is an attractive bird… (ok, so they can’t all be graceful-looking!)

A little while later I came to this snowy egret, who was tiptoeing across the surface in pursuit of some prey. I guess you had to be there to watch it to get the full effect, but it was quite comical in its sneakiness. Nice yellow feet, too.

Speaking of egrets, this one was striking the classic pose on some vegetation.

I came to the area where the purple gallinules hang out and saw two adults today, including this one.

They are really pretty birds. Across a small channel from that one I spotted some growing chicks, this one alone near what must be the nest.

And two of them were hunting for food together.

After I passed by, the adult in the photo above flew over to be with them so they must have been a family.

I turned around before the snowman boat ramp again. As I was paddling upstream I approached this tricolored heron, who flew off when I got too close for its comfort…

There are dozens of little blue herons on this river now, and yet the juveniles are fairly rare. I did see this one all by itself—it seems that the dark color is starting to come in stronger now.

I paddled up to this anhinga sitting in a small cove and parked my boat to see what it was doing.

It stretched its wings out (I thought to dry them), but right after I took this photo, it flew away.

While I was parked there with the anhinga, an egret came in for a landing nearby.

It saw me and turned and immediately took off without ever actually even settling. Looks very fluffy as it makes the transition from landing to taking off—

I saw a few other paddlers today and one power boat and otherwise had the river to myself. The wind was light and it was a pleasure to be out.

As I entered the narrow channel that leads to the boat ramp I passed very close by this female wood duck, who surprised me by staying put while I took a photo of her.

And then she flew away—I think I saw her later with her babies. I felt guilty for interrupting what was probably a short break for her from being mother duck.

This was the day I was to pick up my repaired Mystic but a call to the repair place revealed that it is not done yet (so I took the Prijon to the river today). The good news is that I was assured that this extended labor period would not raise the price. The new pick-up day is Monday. I am still filled with confidence about this fiberglass guy, but we shall see if that is warranted. Meanwhile, the next paddling trip will be next week (maybe Monday in the newly-repaired Mystic?). Stand by.