Sunday, February 03, 2008

Warm Day on the Wakulla!

A river, though, has so many things to say that
it is hard to know what it says to each of us.
~Norman Maclean

Well, I've been fussing a lot lately about the cold (to us) weather. And now for something completely different. It was warm yesterday and I decided to head to the Wakulla. Not always a great birding river at this time of year, but one of my favorites, and the only one I will paddle on a weekend.

Not many people on the river, and most of them either stationary fishermen or paddlers. I have an uncanny knack on weekends for managing to invariably launch on this river at the same time as two women in a tandem kayak rented from the livery next to the public boat ramp (not always the same two women, that would be just bizarre). I think it's wonderful that people get out on the water and they should enjoy it in any way that pleases them. I do seem to always hit the water at precisely the same time as two women in a tandem kayak who choose to enjoy the water by chattering nonstop the entire time they are on it (and given how sound travels over water, every word of this chatter is crystal clear). This time I thought I could get some quiet by hanging back and letting them pull ahead of me. That worked for a while but they kept stopping, and since I had not launched until 1:00, I did not have time for non-photo-related lingering. So I did some fitness paddling and put myself out of earshot ahead of them, which worked, although with my many stops and despite side trips down inlets, I never completely lost them. But I digress.

First bird spotted was an egret. I have been in egret mode lately, though they can be tricky subjects on a sunny day. They so brightly reflect sunlight.

No gators spotted, surprisingly enough, but the Suwannee cooters were out in numbers soaking up the sun along the river edges.

Our spring greenery has not appeared yet, but there were many trees sporting colorful red berries, which added some bright color to the shorelines. Note the little lizard on the branch.

I paddled through one of the off-river areas on my way upstream. I spotted this egret in a fallen tree in the river ahead of me.

I had to paddle close by it since it was a narrow passage, and so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for a flight photo. I paddled hard enough to produce the glide to go past it and waited for it to take off. And waited. It had been preening as I approached and it continued preening as I got closer. And closer. I finally was basically next to it and so I took the photo, thanked the bird, and moved slowly off. It never flew from the branch, just kept on preening (evidence of which can be seen on its beak).

I paddled to the island near the upper bridge and circled it. This anhinga was pausing on a dock piling.

It was high tide while I was there (my favorite time on this river) and I discovered a new passage off the main river. I'm not sure if it is accessible at low tide; I'll check next time I am here when the water is down. I took the passage both upstream and down. No mergansers or wood ducks hiding in there in either direction. On the way downstream I was paddling directly into the (sinking) sun. I saw a cormorant silhouette on a tree branch--the sun bright on the other side of it, leaving my side in total shadow.

A belted kingfisher swooped back and forth over the water during my downstream drift, landing briefly in the trees on either side between swoops.

As I got closer to the boat ramp I saw this juvenile ibis along the edge, at about the same time as it saw me.

A good paddling day. Our weather this coming week looks good and so I have tentative plans for both paddling and camping (fingers crossed). Stand by.

1 comment:

Stacie said...

I with you on loosing the other paddlers who talk incessantly while out...I enjoy a nice quiet fact, I often prefer to go alone for just that reason..peace and quiet! I'm loving that as I'm going through your posts, I'm learning to identify those birds that are not familiar to me..we don't (to my knowledge) have anhinga's here, nor do I ever remember seeing them, but when I got to the pic I said "OH cool! an anhinga!" and then checked to see if I was right. LOL..just made me happy.