Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is it Fall Yet?

If you're going to live by the river, make friends with the crocodile.
--Indian Proverb

There were only three boat trailers (attached to vehicles, of course) in the parking lot when I got to the Wacissa on another hot day. I decided to try a new setting on the camera, which sometimes has great results and other times not so much... It's impossible to see how the photo looks on the little LCD screen so I was just hoping it wasn't doing too much damage. As it turned out, I did lose some photos, but I learned a lesson. And I'm posting a few photos that are a little less sharp than others, but I wanted to include them.

It seems my posts often start with a tricolored heron photo, which makes sense; for the most part I post these photos in the order I took them, and the area by the boat ramp always has a lot of tricolored herons.

And there's an otter that hangs out there as well. I continue to attempt to get decent photos of him/her.

I went into Blue Spring, of course. This ibis was near the entrance, peering around a cypress knee.

The spring looked good, as always, and I lingered there a little while before continuing downstream. I came to this little blue heron, who had apparently just eaten something that was not going down very well. It extended its neck and swallowed repeatedly with great vigor.

The limpkins were very noisy on the river today. This one looks a lot like Bob but was making too much racket to be Bob.

Shortly after passing that one, I came to another, in one of those strange groupings--this one with a juvenile common moorhen. Two very different birds!

I saw several great blue herons today (or the same one over and over again). This one saw me coming and decided to take cover in the trees, which it entered somewhat gracelessly.

I crossed the river so I could paddle down the channel that always has a lot of young gallinules and moorhens. Here's how it looks as you approach it. The birds nest in those tall grasses. Today I heard quiet peeping coming from several of them so there must be more babies around.

While I was paddling through the channel, I saw a purple gallinule on one side and suspected it would cross to the other. This is always a great photo opportunity because they make a great splashing with their feet. I did not expect it to fly across.

I turned around at the end of that channel and paddled back upstream. This great blue heron was standing on an exposed log.

It didn't stay there long.

It settled not far away with, in another odd grouping, two snowy egrets.

There was a belted kingfisher in a tree nearby. This is one of the photos that suffered from the experimental setting--it has a lot of noise (grain) in it. But I am including it so I can include the one I got after it. Bird in the tree:

And same bird swooping down toward the water. They move very fast.

I passed a few blooming lotuses. Of course if you read this blog regularly, you know that I like to tweak some of the photos if they don't come out of the camera to my liking (but are fine pixel-wise). So instead of a photo of a yellow lotus washed-out in the bright sunlight and surrounded by lily pads with brown spots, I cleaned it up a little.

This photo is for Kimberlee, who misses the Suwannee Cooters of the south, now that she is living in the land of frozen tundra:

Ok, so now I have to show you this photo, which normally I would not include, but it is part of a story. I had not gotten any photos of green herons today and I saw this one in some greenery.

It stuck its neck up when I approached. I picked up the camera and let myself drift toward it, assuming that it would probably fly off if I got too close. I was just watching the bird through the viewfinder of the camera. About 10 seconds after I took that photo, an alligator head erupted from the water about 12 inches from the side of my kayak and lunged toward the bird, with great noise and water splashing. Yikes. It just as quickly disappeared again below the surface. I put the camera down and picked up the paddle and hastily moved upriver. When I got a comfortable distance away, I stopped to process that. I wondered why it didn't bump the bottom of the boat since it was so close--it must have come directly up from the bottom. I decided I must be in pretty good shape cardiac-wise because while that was far and away the most startling thing that has ever happened on that river, I didn't get a pounding heart, which I would have expected. I did notice the adrenaline effect, though. So then I thought about what I had seen, which happened very fast. The gator came blasting out of the water toward the bird, but.... from what I remembered seeing, it was off by more than a foot--can they be that inept at judging distance to prey? On the other hand, my paddle, with a yellow blade, was resting crossways on the boat with the blade over the water. The gator came up a lot closer to the blade than the bird. I wonder if it thought it was something to have for dinner, so it comes exploding out of the water to nab it, and upon breaking the surface, realizes there is a human basically attached to the main course. It was quite an experience. Of course, in my memory the gator's head was gigantic, but I'm sure it was normal size, if not a young inexperienced one. That never happened to me before; I'll be perfectly happy if it never happens again. And don't tell my husband.

I met Edie and Carla at the boat ramp. If you are reading this, HI!

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend. I hope to get out paddling one of those long-weekend days. Stand by.


pineyflatwoodsgirl said...

Holy cats! I gotta hear more about the alligator eruption! I want to avoid that, for sure.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Spooky. That's all, just spooky. Scares me just reading about it.

When you get a chance, can you tell what lens and camera setting you are using to get those pix of birds in flight?

Stacie said...

I would have seriously wet myself! I won't breath a word to your husband trust me. mine has conniptions that I kayak alone, and we don't have gators here...nope, us girls gotta stick together, I won't breath a word!

Beverly said...

Your photos of your birds are wonderful. I think Iwould have died on the spot with a gator that close.

My mother used to call me "Cooter."

Anonymous said...

Of course, I'm partial to the Suwannee Cooter. :) But the photo featuring the great blue heron with two snowy egrets is really spectacular. It looks like they posed just for you!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I thought I would drop in again to tell you I did, indeed, find a Sony A100 with two lenses. I now look like the guy who messed with the alligator: I am short one arm, and one leg.