Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It was barely breezy when I left home but a little over an hour later when I arrived at the Wakulla the air was swirling. I decided to give it a go anyway.
It was blowing upstream and whooshed me along. I got as far as the little island under the power lines and decided that would be far enough to battle it going back. While a paddler in a canoe I passed declared it to be "brutal," it really wasn't that hard paddling into it. The Mystic is low in the water and narrow so there's not a lot of resistance.
The problem with only going to the island is that most of the birds on this river are in the top half and so I didn't see any on the way upstream. I did see these turtles out in the sun--looks like a family gathering!
On the way downstream I saw a much larger gathering:
I had already decided that since it was so early I would stop at the wildlife refuge on my way home, and that's where my mind was as I approached the boat ramp. I almost didn't see these two ducks that were huddled out of the wind under the dock at that house just before the boat ramp.
I loaded the boat and headed for St. Marks. As expected, there was a lot more water there than last time! The large pool on the left as you drive in, the one that has been bone-dry, is back to being a pool. Granted, the water looks about 6" deep, but it's full.
I parked by the lighthouse and walked around that center pool. As usual, the gulls were grouped there. Hmmm, one of these birds looks different from the others...
As I walked toward the Gulf along the channel from the boat ramp, the songbirds were flitting about in the trees. This mockingbird seemed agreeable about being photographed.
As I neared the parking lot, several song sparrows (thanks Sophiemae and Steve for the ID!) were on the ground and the rocks.
I decided to walk around the back of the lighthouse and along the beach to take some scenic photos. On the way, I spotted this great egret next to a snowy egret on a grassy island in the water. I haven't seen a snowy egret since last year, so this was nice.
The great egret got a little too close and scared the little one away, so then there was one.
As I approached, he looked like he was going to fly off so I pointed the camera at him and waited; and sure enough, off he went to the other side of the little channel. I could not pick just one photo out of the series that came from this flight, so with apologies to any dial-up visitors, I'm posting most of them:
And there he stayed, and I continued on my walk.
Eventually it was time to go. On the drive out, I saw this anhinga drying its wings by the side of the road, next to the water. I parked the car, assuming it would fly off. I walked toward it, assuming it would fly off. It never did, was still right there as I drove away (those wings should have been dried in an instant, given the wind!).
I hope to get out for a longer paddling trip soon. Stand by.