Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Coolest Place to Be

Our bodies are molded rivers.

It really does seem 10 degrees cooler on the water, particularly when you have a light breeze wafting across the 73-degree surface. Clearly I am not the only paddler to have discovered this; there were several others on the Wacissa.

As I was drifting downstream, I saw this well-camouflaged young night heron. If I had not been looking for such things along the river's edge, it never would have caught my eye.

This was a day to just drift with the gentle current rather than make the effort to paddle (at least during the downstream part...). What a great way to spend a morning.

This snowy egret was sitting on a jagged stump as I floated by.

I guess it didn't like the look or sound of the camera (or me), since it decided to leave.

And off it went downriver.

The gators were also out enjoying the sunshine--most of the ones I saw were small. Must be the most recent batch.

I saw a young ibis perched along the side of the river. I assumed it was alone; I didn't see any others. But when I drifted on over to see if I could get a picture of it, several more flew out from the nearby trees. This one stayed where it was, though.

I turned around after a couple of hours of meandering downstream. There was little wind and the current never picked up, so it was an easy, slow paddle back upstream. I spotted a female wood duck with babies swimming along the edge. When she saw me, she stopped, which caused the babies to all sort of mill around, not sure why they were stopped. Several looked over at me, but didn't seem particularly alarmed. I took the picture and moved on so they could continue on their own little meander.

At the time I took that photo of the woodie babies, I was paddling between the river's edge and a line of reedy tussocks, with the main part of the river on the other side of the reeds. Immediately after leaving the woodies, I saw the resident pelican coming swooping downstream only inches from the water. Not much I could do about the reeds between us, so this photo has a somewhat you-are-there quality (meaning that it is technically not very good, but is very real and of the moment):

There are always many, many little blue herons on this river. I rarely photograph them; I don't find them all that interesting in the adult stage. But this one kept fishing even when I was within a few feet of it, so I couldn't resist.

And speaking of little blue herons, I did see this juvenile. Its feathers are in the process of changing from the white color they start out with to the dark adult coloring.

They look striking when they fly and the new color pattern shows up on their wings.

I missed a photo of a green heron because I was too slow to get the camera up and ready. After it flew away, I continued paddling upstream and within minutes saw a tricolored heron. I've gotten a lot of tricolored heron images lately and so I decided to just pass by and enjoy watching it without photographing it. But something didn't look quite right about it--the neck was too short. I kept staring at it as I drifted closer and closer. It's a good thing no other humans were nearby to hear me laughing at myself. I had been sitting there doing nothing as I got closer and closer to another green heron--the bird I had been looking for and had already let get away once. Sheesh.

The entire time I was on the water, I was hearing prothonotary warblers calling. These are such vivid yellow birds, but yet are very difficult to spot in the greens and yellows of the shoreline vegetation (unlike, say, male cardinals). I stopped several times to see if I could find the source of the calls, but after a few minutes it just seemed futile. As I approached the Blue Spring inlet on my way upstream, I could hear two, or maybe even three, warblers in the area near the entrance to the inlet. It's nice and shady there and so I pulled over and got out of the current and just sat for a while trying to find them. Until they found me. Perhaps they felt a kinship with my bright yellow boat... For whatever reason, they flitted around me. These birds are peculiarly and remarkably difficult to photograph (at least I find them so)--the sunlight bounces off of those bright yellow feathers and they end up looking like little balls of glowing yellow light. Out of many images that I captured of them, these two were the only ones I kept:


It was a great day on the river and no doubt the most comfortable place to be outside.

DH is on vacation this coming week and I don't know if paddling is in the cards or not--I think we have more things planned than we will have time to do. I'll get back out soon, though. Stand by.


Beverly said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Sandra said...

Awesome, breathtaking, remarkable, awe-inspiring. Can you tell I love your photo’s? I was surprised to read you were in FL when I saw the 73 degree water remark. Here in Bradenton, our water temp is 87 and climbing, our pool is in the 90’s and the air is HOT. I could feel the cool air as I paddle with you

S N B said...

Sandra, the Wacissa is spring-fed and because the water comes from so deep, and comes out with such volume, the river stays quite cool.

Peggy said...

Haha you beat me to the response, SNB! One of the great things about paddling the Wacissa in the scorching temps we are having is that you can do some serious cooling-off after the paddle by just standing knee-deep at the launch area! In addition to being a constant 73 degrees, the water is also crystal clear. And lined with wildlife...the perfect river!

Thanks to you and Beverly for kind comments!


Carol said...

You have some really good pictures there. I love the Egret just leaving the stump. Beautiful!! Now i have to get out and try harder.

TheLongleaf said...

Love the prothonotary pics! Awesome shots overall. What camera and lens are you using?

Peggy said...

Thanks, Longleaf! I use a Nikon D300 with a Nikkor 80-400mm lens on it.


Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

I so love checking in with your blog every week or so. Your narration is as pleasant as your pictures. I feel I am there and maybe when I visit my mother, we can arrange a trip up the Wacissa.

Snapper II said...

I've been following Paddle tails for awhile. I admire your photos, and just stopped by to say thanks for sharing.