Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Letting Someone Else Do The Driving...

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.
-William Shakespeare

It's really hot here, as it is in many locales. A bit hot to go paddling, so I decided to take the easy way out and drive over to Wakulla Springs State Park to take the boat tour of the upper part of the Wakulla River, which is fenced off and unavailable to all (private) boaters.

I got there a bit early for the next tour, so I wandered around. Here's what the lodge at the park looks like from the back

Those back windows, which include the lodge restaurant, face the fairly expansive spring and swimming area.

And then we were off. Had I not been so desperate to get on the water and see some birds, I would have known better and waited until school was back in session. Silly me, I thought no one else would want to take a boat tour in this kind of heat. Nope, lots of people with lots of small children filled the boat. But on this day it was better than sitting around the house hermetically sealed in air conditioning.

As with the Wacissa, there are lots of snowy egrets on the top part of this river.

I was surprised by how many gators and common moorhens occupy this top section. I have never seen this many gators in one place before (not even the Okefenokee).

This has always been a great place to see anhingas, and very early on in the tour I spotted this one off the left side of the boat.

I was so happy there were so many pied-billed grebes in this part of the river--long time no see!

Another surprise were all the moorhen babies. I see them a few miles downstream on the Wacissa, but how odd that they would be up here where these noisy tour boats traverse the river so many times a day. Here's a mother and chick:

and a family heading into the grasses when the boat went by (the little one on the right seems to have a different idea of where to go)...

I saw these two little ones huddled near some tall grass, their mother nearby:

This young moorhen was perched on a cypress knee, watching the boat go by.

I saw the same odd groupings of different birds that were on the Wacissa. Here's a tricolored heron with a little blue heron flying away--and check out the gator on the left side of the photo (indicated with an arrow).

They drive these boats very fast, which was a bit frustrating as a photographer. I finally gave up on manually focusing since there was no time for such luxury in the short time any bird was in view off the side of the boat. I'm not sure what their hurry is; nobody had time to really see anything.

However, at one point the driver of the boat slowed down so everyone could see a large gator off the right side of the boat. While they were all looking at that, I saw this ibis in a tree nearby. Here's another take on how they look from below:

The one advantage to this boat tour is that the birds are all so used to the boat noise that they pay no attention. I could have almost reached out and pet this snowy egret as we went by. Note its yellow foot out of the water below its beak.

I got a photo of a great egret. I tinkered with it and tweaked it and just couldn't make it work as a color photo. But you know me--if I don't want to bag it completely, I will make it a black and white and maybe apply a filter or two to it and call it art.

Despite the heat, I am actually thinking of returning to the Wakulla soon and paddling the river from the usual boat ramp. I read this morning on the Fox news website about a guy in Atlanta who started his lawnmower and (supposedly due to the heat in his garage) it burst into flames. This reminds me of the story a few years ago out of south Florida about the woman who had a bag of those charcoal briquettes that require no lighter fluid in the back seat of her Mercedes. The sun beat down on them and they combusted, turning her car into a very expensive grill. Inconvenient, indeed.

Stay cool everyone. And stand by.


Anonymous said...

Peggy, here are two excellent websites about Wakulla Springs that are complementary to your posting and photographs.

Anonymous said...

Wakulla Springs Photos
Wakulla Springs Information

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You did mighty fine for a boat tour going lickety split. I especially enjoyed the next to last photo of the egret -- very stunning.

clairesgarden said...

maybe the gators know the schools aren't back in and are hanging about waiting for tasty morsels to fall off the boat? maybe irrate parents throw them in occasionally?
schools are back here which makes for a quieter day but busy roads.

SwampAngel65 said...

Absolutaly beautiful pictures! Thanks to you, that place is now on my list of "Places to Go One Day".

RHD said...

All I can say, is WOW!