Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wacissa Afternoon

If we didn't learn a lot today,
At least we learned a little!
And if we didn't learn a little,
At least we didn't get sick!
And if we got sick, at least we
weren't plucked naked and
served on a platter with
roasted potatoes!
So, let us be thankful!
~Harriet, the Zen Hen

What a great day to go paddling! I got there just as the Wilderness Way group was returning, so I had the river to myself almost the entire time I was out.

As I was drifting downstream (this is a downstream-first river), I spotted this egret along the shoreline, highlighted in the sun.



He made his way forward at about the same pace as my drift. Apparently he didn't want company, as off he went; up,



up,



and away!



I don't normally photograph coots or moorhens or gallinules, but this young one was posing so nicely on a stump in the water, I couldn't resist.



The sun was beaming down on this great blue heron doing a plausable swan imitation (this is a shallow river, it was no doubt actually walking on the bottom).



There is a tree branch near the Blue Spring inlet that almost always has some kind of bird perched on it. On this day it was a tricolored heron, with one leg tucked up.



Speaking of Blue Spring, of course I paddled to it. Very pretty, very quiet, and very without birds when I was there. So, back to the river proper.

There were, as last time, a lot of white birds--egrets, ibis, and juvenile little blue herons. I was approaching a very pretty snowy egret fishing in the surface greenery and wanted to show you how great he looked in the sun against all the green leaves. But, er...well...these things don't always work out. Here he is, anyway....



I was sitting back in the kayak enjoying the ride, and almost didn't see this young ibis--talk about effective camouflage. He was blending in very well.



I came to a juvenile little blue heron doing that wing thing where they spread their wings to create shade over the water, which attracts the little fish that they are after. I watched this one do it for a long time.



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And then he left to try somewhere else...



I also very rarely photograph cormorants. They are as common as moorhens. But this one was just sitting there, and I liked the red leaf behind him, so I raised the camera.



Uh oh, a shy cormorant, guess he didn't like being photographed.



Once again, as happened last time, I was pleasantly surprised to come up on a group of wood ducks that included males.



I was about to turn around and head back upstream when I saw the unmistakable outline of a great blue heron on a little vegetation island ahead of me. Ok, maybe I will drift just a little while longer.



Here's the thing, though. The current is a little stronger as you get to this point and so I was moving closer to him as I set up and captured that image. There was a nice little break in the greenery for me to pass by him on the right, but I didn't think he would like me being so close. Sure enough, he began his escape,



achieved liftoff,



and off he goes.



I turned around then and paddled upstream. This tricolored heron was standing at the edge of the water.



As I was coming to Duck Island, near the boat ramp, I came to more woodies!



My car was the only one in the parking lot when I got back to the boat ramp--this is definitely my favorite time of year to paddle this river!

I've got a lengthy camping trip coming up but will get back out paddling after I return. Stand by.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Back on the Water!

I saw old autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like silence, listening
To silence
~Thomas Hood

Hi there. Remember me? Been awhile, eh? Well, summer is finally packing up and leaving and it's cool enough to enjoy being out on the water again. So back to the Wacissa!

I was glad I had waited so long to return; waited until it would be comfortable enough to be fun. What a great day it was. A bit of a brisk downstream wind, so I didn't go far, but I spent about 3 hours on the water.

There are a lot of white birds along the river, egrets (both great and snowy), juvenile little blue herons, and ibis.

Shortly after leaving the boat ramp, I was thrilled to see a great blue heron, standing with the wind ruffling its feathers.



There's a lot of surface growth on the water, as happens every summer. The water level is down considerably.

This egret was standing on a log; it had just raised its one leg up just before I took this picture.



As I was drifting along, kind of wondering where the night herons were since there were so many young ones out and about last time I was on the river, I was thrilled to see this somewhat rare sight:



Such striking birds. And of course the reptiles were enjoying the day, some of them lined up on this log.



I saw a large egret perched by the side of the river and paddled over in that direction. As I drifted closer, I could see through my camera's viewfinder that it was about to leave. Sure enough, it did.



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I turned around shortly after seeing that one and headed upstream into the wind. It's not that difficult to paddle directly into the wind, but there is a problem if you want to stop paddling to take a photo. Before you know it, you are drifting backwards at a good clip! I parked in the surface greenery to prevent that and got this photo of an ibis.



Off to the right of the ibis was a snowy egret posing nicely along the shoreline.



There were several tricolored herons here and there along the river. This one watched me paddle by.



I took the route back that goes to the left of Duck Island. Aptly named; I was again surprised to see a male wood duck, this one with two females nearby, swimming toward the island.



And off they go, into safe seclusion.



I was about to pack up the camera since I was very near the boat ramp when I spotted what might have been that same great blue heron that I saw at the beginning of this trip. I wedged the boat into some greenery and eased off on the lens since I assumed it was going to fly off--they are usually pretty shy. It didn't leave. I waited. It didn't leave. So I took this one of it standing there, and then I moved on.



It still hadn't left when I had moved a fair distance away. Must be used to paddlers.

It was a good start to the paddling season here, and I can't wait to get back out. This is also the start of camping season. It's wonderful to be active again! I'll be back. Stand by.