Sunday, October 28, 2012

Paddling Again! Back to the Wacissa

Wherever a man may happen to turn,
whatever a man may undertake,
he will always end up by returning to that path
which nature has marked out for him.
~Unknown

Anybody still out there reading this blog? I've been gone from it forever, it seems. I hope you had a good summer! Ours was sweltering hot, although that is no longer a condition reserved for Florida. I had an interesting summer; DH and I bought a house in the mountains of North Carolina, where we plan to retire sometime between next week and two years from now (depends). The purchase was a long process, but we are very happy with it and plan to visit our new house often until we make the Big Move out of Florida.

I took a long break from paddling because I had been going so often that there was a sameness to it--in large part, of course, because I don't have a lot of destination choices close to home. So I end up mostly paddling the Wacissa, which is a wonderful river, but too much of even the best things is still too much.

But now I've been away long enough that I'm back to wanting to get on the water. And so I did.

I was astounded at the low water level. It seems like we have had a lot of rain this summer, but apparently not enough to raise the water. While it was low, it was still beautifully crystal clear. There were a lot of paddlers on the water for a midweek day.

And it was strangely bird-free. I recall this happening once before--a period of paddling trips with no birds, and then they were all back. We must be close to migration time.

Given the lack of shorebirds, my first photo was of a little bird that was flitting around the branches next to the river.



I rarely take scenic photos on the river, but took this one of a spot near the head spring where there is usually some sort of heron or duck hanging out.



And the turtles were out and about! They have always been shy on this river, but this one was so far above the water that it just opted to take its chances and stay up while I drifted by.



I came to these two little cuties. At first I thought they were grebes, but now I think maybe they are young moorhens. 



I did see a juvenile little blue heron but it was very shy and I couldn't get close enough for a photo. I was excited to see a great blue heron shortly before I turned around to head back to the boat ramp, but it was even more skittish.

And then when I got close to Duck Island I saw another heron. I approached this one very slowly and it stayed still. The breeze had picked up and so I had to do some maneuvering to stay in position for a photo.



I was sure it was going to fly at any time, which would be fine, I could get some photos of it in flight. Except it didn't leave. And the wind was blowing me toward it. I took a close-up of it,



and at that point was about to run into the shoreline. I had hoped it would stay there long enough for me to back up and still get a flight photo if it took off, but while I was paddling away from it, off it went. I thanked it for the photo and continued on to the boat ramp.

I had a fun surprise when I met a blog reader at the ramp; that's only happened once before (they have to somehow figure out who I am, since it doesn't work the other way around). We chatted for quite a while. Great ending for my return to paddling!

And now I can't resist a very brief foray into shameless promotion (ok, boasting). National Geographic has just published another large hardback book of photographs. The book is called Life In Color. One of my photographs is in it (with credit to me, of course)! It's an egret image--it's in the "white" section. I probably don't have to tell you how thrilling it was for me to see it in such a book.

When this pesky Sandy storm is out of the way, I will get back to the river; maybe the birds will be back. Stand by.