Friday, May 29, 2009

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

Into each life some rain must fall.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We have had rain every day for over two weeks now. That so interferes with paddling! This blog has been stuck for so long that I am starting to get emails asking if I am okay. So! Time for another non-paddling post with photos that have yet to see the light of day.

I have several from my trip to the bird rookery in St. Augustine that were not posted with the rest from that trip. This egret (in breeding mode, since I was there at the height of breeding season) was busy finding sticks to put in its nest.



Nearby, this snowy egret was taking a break from nest-building.



I haven't yet seen any night herons on the Wacissa this year (they have probably returned to the river, I just haven't seen them!). This lone yellow crowned night heron was dozing under a tree branch at the rookery while the egrets flew around above him.



I had hoped to get back to the rookery to photograph the various chicks (mostly egrets and wood storks) that are now in the nests. I cancelled the trip due to the weather, and then heard some sad news about the rookery. It seems that while egret chicks can withstand a day or two of rain, this long period of daily downpours has caused a significant loss in the chick population. They get chilled with no chance of drying off, and the parents don't leave the nests to get food. Such a sad situation. Many of the smaller species (tricolors and green herons) have not hatched yet, so if this rain stops before they emerge, they will likely be ok.

And now back to the Wacissa. This tall thin great blue heron was standing on a vegetation island about 2 miles downstream last fall.



Last time I was on the river I saw little blue herons but very few juveniles. I guess the young ones that populated the river all winter have finally gotten their adult coloring! Here's one of the juveniles that flew by early in the spring.



The little yellowlegs are almost all gone now--so it's time for one last photo of them till they come back!



I recall that on a trip to the Wacissa early last fall I came upon two ibis in the greenery near the launch area. They aren't well camouflaged!



Today was to be the first of a few rain-free days. It's raining as I write this, so I don't have high hopes for the near future as far as paddling. I'll keep you posted. Stand by.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Perfect Paddling Day on the Wacissa

In summer, the song sings itself.
~William Carlos Williams

It may be only mid-May, but it's summer here! What a great warm sunny day to get out to the river!

There was a remarkably small great blue heron near the boat ramp--I actually thought it was a tricolored heron until I got right next to it. There's nothing here to give you perspective, but this was a very little one:



It sat there as I drifted past so I took one more of its noble head.



After going only a short distance, I saw a swallow-tail kite flying over head, looking for lunch in the water. They are beautiful birds, they soar endlessly. I took many photos of this one.



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And the snowies were out and about again! I saw this one fishing on a vegetation island in the river.



It was doing that wing-spreading thing to lure fish to the shade it created.



And it spots something underwater and goes for it!



But....no luck that time.



I paddled on. I spotted this gator enjoying the sunshine. The reflection is so strange in this photo, the longer I looked at it, the less sense it made.



There was a bit of a downstream wind blowing and so I turned around at about the 2-mile point. On my way back upstream, I saw this egret on a leafy island.



It left as I paddled by.



This snowy egret had a very impressive topknot going for it, blowing in the wind.



The yellow water lilies are blooming here and there. This one came out looking like a painting.



It was a wonderful, warm day on the river. With luck this is the beginning of more frequent paddling trips--perhaps we are finally past the rainy and fiercely windy days.

A big smile of welcome to anyone who has come to this blog via Artful Blogging magazine. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will come back often.

Also--Dog River Clearwater Revival, the only grassroots organization in Mobile, Alabama that is concerned with the water quality of Dog River (love that name!), is having a canoe/kayak fundraiser event on Saturday, May 16th.  This is a great cause--if you live in the area or will be nearby this weekend, this sounds like a must-do.  For more info, go here and check out the DRC April 09 News link.

I will get back out on the water soon. Stand by.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Short Weekend Paddle

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


We're still a bit windy but it had been so long since I had been on the river (having spent some time in NC--those photos are here) that I just had to take a quick trip.

There are still more egrets than any other bird on the river (which is fine with me, though I will welcome the return of the other summer residents). Interestingly, this one still had the green nares of breeding season. I watched it fly overhead from the left bank of the river



to a tree on the right.



Juvenile ibis show up here and there along the edges.



I didn't go far, only a short distance past Blue Spring. I was very glad to see otters playing along the shoreline!



I have only seen a wood stork once on this river. Lately they have been showing up in several new places, and today was no exception. I almost missed this one, perched high in a tree and watching me.



As I mentioned, I was not out long at all. This has been an odd spring, with the paddling trips few and far between, mostly due to wind.

On the way back to the boat ramp, I saw this osprey, which is most likely the one that I had been hearing peeping for most of my trip.



I hope to get out for a longer paddle very soon. Stand by.