Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Herons and Manatees on the St. Marks River

A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.
-Laura Gilpin

I haven't been to this river for quite a while.

There are usually few birds on this river, which is curious since it is not only close to the Wakulla River but it seems to provide the same type of environment as far as the shoreline and surface growth, etc. There must be something different that keeps the ibis and egrets and others away. The only birds I saw on this day were little blue herons. I watched this one land on a branch nearby,

make its way to the top,

and then leave.

I was on the water for four hours and saw only one other boat, a canoe with two paddlers. From the time they came into earshot behind me until they were out of earshot ahead of me, they exchanged maybe a dozen words. What a joy to encounter someone else who likes quiet on the water.

This pileated woodpecker was down by the water's edge.

We have had several birds in our yard recently that I have never seen before. Someone that DH works with has noticed the same thing and wondered if this is an after-effect of all the fires that raged in Florida earlier this year, which would have displaced a lot of birds. That makes sense to me and may also explain why I am seeing more pileateds on the river shorelines lately.

The little blue herons on this river are not as complacent as those on the Wacissa and always took off when I got too close, this one splashing water behind it as it left.

You may recall my attempt/failure at getting video of manatees when I was on the Wakulla recently. I also encountered manatees on this trip, two separate groups, each of which had a baby with them. I had a little better luck with the video this time, particularly with one of the babies, as you will see. I have spliced together two pieces of video, the only usable parts of all the video that I took (which was quite a bit). The second part is very short but shows adult manatees from the surface. Right before the transition you will see something floating in the water. That is the strap from the camera, which you are supposed to wrap around your wrist so that if you drop the camera, it won't sink to the bottom of the river, but which I forgot about in my excitement at seeing the baby manatee. On the other hand, I think it was the strap waving around in the water that drew its attention, and I didn't drop the camera, so maybe that all worked out for the best (by the way, keep in mind that I can't see the camera's LCD screen while it is recording, which is why it doesn't stay nicely locked on the subject...). I have been tinkering with different ways to post this video. Let's try it via YouTube.

I hope to get out again, most likely back to the Wacissa, later this week. Stand by.


utenzi said...

Beautiful pictures of the herons, Peggy. That last one in particular is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Video was very cool!!! Sue

Stacie said...

Wow. The photos are amazing as always. I'll have to come back tomorrow and watch the video from my other computer. I can't wait to see it!

Beverly said...

the video is wonderful. Watching them is so peaceful. There is something so serene watching them there in the water. Our local South Florida museum in Bradenton has Snooty who has lived in captivity since being born in Miami. He was brought to Bradenton and has been here ever since. I believe he had his 60th birthday this year.

Often he has a companion in his tank who is rehabbing before being released back into the wild.

Stacie said...

AWESOME! I'm going to send my friend to see this vid, she homeschools her little boy and sometimes uses my nature vids to work into her lessons for him, he will love this.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You are doing very well, Paddler. And, oh, by the way, can we have some of your Pileateds?