Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wacissa River

Ack! Catastrophe, calamity, misfortune! A large and heavy (aren’t they all?) limb fell on my beloved (fiberglass) Mystic kayak, which was set deck-down on two sawhorses. The limb bashed in the hull and then broke the sawhorse supporting the kayak. When the kayak fell along with the bow sawhorse, it sustained a major crack along the deck as well as smaller damage next to the bow hatch.

It is currently in “the shop.” The guy tells me that it will be a seamless repair and undetectable. You could buy a small plastic kayak for what it will cost to fix it, but this is my #1 boat, an extension of me, so that’s the way it goes.

Meanwhile, I took the Prijon to the Wacissa today. Here’s the deal: there are so many photos in this post that anyone on dial-up who wants to read this might want to go ahead and have breakfast/lunch/dinner and go to work/watch a movie while waiting for it to load. I culled and cut but I want to post what survived.

So if you are sitting comfortably, we will begin.

I decided to take a photo of the boat ramp. I talk about this river all the time and show photos of the birds that inhabit it, but I rarely show the river itself. Here is the Prijon waiting to head out. Two paddlers departed a short time ago and can be seen in the distance.

This baby barred owl was perched on a tree near the boat ramp, whistling away.

The best place to see snowy egrets is in the first half-mile of river, and this is one that was hanging out today (oh and yes, it was windy today).

And speaking of snowy egrets, I saw several. This one was on the west side of the river.

So I went on down and into blue spring. I have to tell you, it was looking bluer and clearer than I have ever seen it. I even paddled around over it, which I normally don’t do since it just plain creeps me out being able to look that far down into the water. I took this of the raft for swimmers while I was in there.

On the far side of the spring there is a branch over the water, and this egret was perched on it, showing off its impressive plumage.

It was actually hard getting downstream due to the upstream wind, but that makes for good exercise so I am not complaining. And the best birds are about 2 miles downstream. That would include this ibis, which perched high in a tree as I passed.

I thought ibis were gone for the summer, so this one was a welcome sight. However, they are still shy, and that one took off from the tree limb as I approached. I like this photo because it shows the black on their wings, which always shows up when they fly by you.

I turned around shortly before the snowman boat ramp and decided to look for those purple gallinules and whatever might be on the water in the reeds on the east side of the river.

First, I came to this great blue heron. I love these birds and don’t see them nearly as often as I would like. This one was perched in a clump of grass in the middle of the river.

Uh oh, it sees me coming!

And then it takes off to go somewhere paddler-free.

I watched it fly away and continued to snap photos as it made its way downstream.

Only a few minutes later I saw a green heron way up ahead, and began to make my way stealthily toward it. Hmm, too bad it saw me coming. But—good thing it decided to make its escape by flying right by me!

Around the place where I have recently seen the purple gallinule chicks, I spotted a grebe. These little duck-like birds are very hard to photograph since they seem to spend most of their time underwater. But wait! This one has babies with it!

And there’s a little one being bold and independent and swimming apart from Mom and the rest.

This is as close as I could get to one of the little chicks. Since the adults have semi-solid coloring, I can only guess (or look it up..) that this juvenile coloring serves as a disguise in the reeds and grasses for little ones.

The wind was pushing me toward them and I was taking photos of the babies. They all dove below the surface to look for food, leaving the mother to worry about me. She let me get closer than I have ever gotten to a grebe before. I’m sure she only stayed there because her babies were so close by underwater.

After taking a few pictures, I beat a hasty retreat to leave them alone.

This egret seemed to think it was well hidden and watched me confidently from the shoreline grasses.

I used to see a lot of tricolored herons on this river, but there don’t seem to be as many now. However, this one was perched on a log on the side. I had to navigate through some surface growth to get close enough for a photo, but I did get one.

There are many, many little blue herons on this river right now. When they spot food under the water, they tend to pounce on it. I happened to be nearby when this one did that little blue heron pounce:

And then it saw me and decided to go somewhere else to do its pouncing.

I got back to the boat ramp at about 3 pm, and it was really crowded (note to self: take the kayak cart next time since there’s no car access to a ramp when this many people are there). I loaded the kayak in the car and then looked at some of the activity going on nearby.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents used to take you and your sister or brother to a local swimming hole to swing on the rope and drop into the water? The swimming area of the Wacissa headwaters could be that swimming hole in any decade.

I hope to get out again soon and hope to get my Mystic back intact. Stand by.


clairesgarden said...

aarrghgh!! I hope you get your Mystic badk soon, it must have been horrible to wath that happening!
such a beautiful river, and all the birds come out. to pose for your camera!

Floridacracker said...

So sorry about the kayak. I hope it returns soon.

Lucky me, I came by on a broadband connection instead of my usual rural dialup. I spent some time catching up on your excellent photos and adventures.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Dear Ms. Paddles:

This is a terrific post (again). The Little Blue Heron photos are worth the price of admission (free! a really good price).

Thanks, as ever.

Steve said...

Hi, Peggy. What great photos! I'm a birder who has recently gotten deeper into kayaking, and your blog was a cool find tonight.

SophieMae said...

I'm still on dial-up out here in the forest, but it's well worth the wait! I'll never forget my first encounter with baby owls. There were 2, perched on a low branch right next to the boardwalk at Lake Miccosukee. Made the strangest noises. When I finally found them, I don't know which of us was more startled.

Hope your Mystic is back on the water before you know it!

Anna said...

Sorry to hear about your Mystic -- glad to hear it can be repaired. Your pictures are great as always. It's been very windy here for weeks and now we have the summer thunderstorms, but I hope to get out tomorrow. Thanks for the details on your camera and the really cool photo edits. I'm wanting to move up from the Cannon S2 IS and that Sony looks like a good camera to consider. Cameras and kayaks -- worth the expenditures!