Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Herons on the Wacissa

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone
you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
~Mark Twain

This was the day to see herons--great blue herons, tricolored herons, little blue herons, night herons...they were all out and about! This great blue heron flew by as I drifted downstream from the boat ramp.

I followed it with the camera as it landed on the jagged top of an old tree stump that protruded from the water.

This was an unusually large and very impressive bird.

As I approached the only dock in this part of the river, I saw another great blue heron standing on it, this one facing away from the river drying its wings.

This snowy egret was sitting in the leaves of a vegetation island, looking very regal.

There was a little blue heron to the left of the snowy as I took the above photo. I sat for a spell with the camera on the snowy, wondering what it was going to do next. I pressed the shutter just as the heron decided to leave; the camera is very quick to focus and zeroed in on the heron as it passed between me and the egret, producing a somewhat you-are-there moment, if not the photo I had intended.

I saw three different wood duck families, the mother always in front with the babies following single-file behind her. These were swimming alongside the river's edge.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had not seen any yellow crowned night herons yet. Well, I more than made up for that lack on this trip. They were everywhere. This one posed for me as I drifted by.

I turned around after a couple of hours of drifting downstream. There was very little breeze and the current was light, making the upstream paddle an easy one. This great blue heron seemed to think it was well camouflaged in some reeds. It held stock-still as I got closer and closer, and was still there as I was leaving it.

An air boat tore through the peaceful silence on its way downstream, sending birds scattering in all directions. This one flew over me as it tried to escape the roar of the engine.

Meanwhile, I watched a gator glide silently through the water.

This was a great day for seeing tricolored herons. This one had been fishing and fluffed its feathers as I passed by.

A little while later I saw another. I find that these birds look the most primitive of the smaller shorebirds, with their long pointed beaks and serpentine necks.

This snowy egret came in for a landing on some surface growth

and proceeded to do some fishing.

I paddled into Blue Spring on my way upstream--there were neither people nor birds in the inlet channel or the spring itself....strange to have it so empty. I didn't linger there long.

I couldn't resist getting one more snowy egret photo before arriving back at the launch area.

These are hot days, with the temps going well into the 90's, and this river is an ideal place to spend several hours. It's nearly bug-free (the yellow flies will find you, though, if you linger too close to the wooded edge--one got into my cockpit and managed to bite me on the bottom of my (bare) foot right at the arch....a terrible place for such a bite...), and the water is wonderfully cool. And it's just so pretty there that you forget how hot the air is. A great way to spend a summer day.

I hope to get out again soon. Stand by.


Kimberlee said...

Looks like you've been having some fun. I'm still a sucker for the babies following mama duck. :) I really like that Mark Twain quote as well. Hope there's more good weather coming your way!

Crayons said...

Wow. As I looked at those photos of herons, I found myself sitting up straighter, as if I were doing tai chi. Thank you for these.

I've wondered what it is like to paddle along with alligators in the water. Could one of them chomp your kayak?

Peggy said...

Hi Caroline! I suppose in theory one of them could chomp the kayak but they are not remotely interested in doing battle or eating a kayak or the human occupant. The only danger would be in paddling right into a romantic gator tryst during mating season. I understand the males are a tad cranky then. Otherwise it's a case of mutual leaving-alone. I give them space, they give me space, and we are fine.

erin said...

Absolutely stunning!! What a photographer you are!! I especially love that last shot! Scrumptious!! I hope receive the e-mail I have sent you. Erin