Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gusts on the Wakulla; St. Marks NWR

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.


Kimberlee said...

Your bird photos are always impressive, but I'm especially excited when you're able to include some turtles! I love the detail of the close-up and that long line of sunning shells is amazing. Great collection!

SophieMae said...

I was going to go to the refuge today, but the rain dissuaded me. The little guy on the rock... is that a Song Sparrow? I'm fairly lost amongst the sparrow family.

We always chuckle at the Groucho look of the Royal Terns. Were there hundreds of gulls and terns out there today?

Mary said...

Lovely graceful egret shots and I love the turtles.

Sandpiper said...

These are AWESOME pictures!!! I might have show these to my husband so he will want to move there! :)

Stacie said...

those photos of the egret landing are awsome! I LOVE those. And of course, the turtles! I Always love turtles!

LP said...

Wonderful photos! I am, as a rule, pretty much a lurker. The little bird on the rock is surely a sparrow. A Carolina wren does not have the streaking. One of the better bird ID sites is http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/infocenter.html

CalActive said...

I can't believe how lucky you were to stumble across such picturesque moments. These are amazing pictures!! I love the one where all the turtles are lined up.

R2K said...

Wow great!