I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.
Yesterday was a perfect paddling day! I had originally planned to go to the Wakulla, but then Abby posted a photo of a green heron on her blog, one of the two birds that have been conspicuously absent all winter (along with the tricolored herons) on the Wacissa. She saw hers on a lake in Tallahassee, but maybe they were on the Wacissa as well, so that's where I headed. I took along a different camera lens than I typically use and I'm not thrilled with the results; if the photos look a little different this time, that's why.
The first bird I saw was a snowy egret that was fishing along the side of the river.
It was having a fair amount of luck and was doing a fair amount of hopping around, pouncing at the fish just beneath the surface.
I think it finally got tired of my presence and went to fish elsewhere, fussing at me as it left:
I paddled into Blue Spring, which is where I saw the first tricolored. Welcome back! It left as I paddled by.
After I left the spring area and continued downstream, I saw a bird swoop into the bushes on the west side of the river. It had too short a neck to be an egret or tricolored and was a brownish-red color. So I paddled over to investigate. It turned out to be a juvenile black crowned night heron hiding in the bushes.
After taking the photo, I turned to leave it in peace. It surprised me by taking off and flying by.
I continued downstream in search of green herons. No luck. I was getting close to Cedar Island and decided to turn around. This great blue heron was posing on the side of the river near where I made my turn.
There are no baby moorhens or gallinules yet, at least that I could see. This purple gallinule was swimming around the middle of the river and did not mind my presence at all. These are very striking birds with all their colors.
I saw two snowy egrets perched on a fallen tree on the left side of the river and paddled over that way to take a picture.
I thanked them for posing so nicely and slowly backed away from them. As I was backing up, I looked at them again and noticed something I had not seen while I was concentrating on the egrets--above them was perched another (or the same) juvenile night heron.
It wasn't until I was processing the photos that I spotted yet another bird in the bunch. On a branch toward the back, you can make out the shape of another night heron between the two egrets. Popular resting spot!
Continuing upstream, I saw this weird bug-like thing swooping around over the water near the edge, so I paddled over there. It was moving fast and unpredictably, requiring less than close-up zoom on it to keep it in the frame. I thought it was one of the strange bugs that we often have flitting around the lantana plants (although this one was clearly plucking things out of the water now and then and was not near vegetation). I got some pretty poor photos of it and would have deleted them but while processing them to see if I could bring them up to posting quality, I noticed that this thing looks peculiarly bat-like (really bad photos...). This was at about 3:00 on a sunny day (seemed a tad early and bright for bats). Its light color is what caught my eye; definitely had a pinkish tinge, at least in the sunlight. No idea what this is but perhaps someone reading this knows:
Continuing on my merry way, this snowy egret and tricolored heron were perched together near Blue Spring.
A wee bit north of the spring inlet I was pleasantly surprised to see otters crossing the river!
My last bird of the day was yet another tricolored heron, this one coming in for a landing as I paddled by.
A really great day on the river, though I never did see any green herons. Next time, maybe.