Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Turkey Creek

I went to Palm Bay today, Sunday June 29, 2008 and kayaked Turkey Creek. I changed up my usual routine, paddling east from the Goode Park launch into the Indian River before heading upstream to the Turkey Creek Sanctuary. I did this to avoid the boat traffic and weather that were sure to worsen later in the day. And to look for dolphins. In Palm Bay, two small dorsal fins broke the surface. Dolphins ? I paddled to the area, they did not resurface. I continued through the Bay and into the Indian River.

I am looking north towards Melbourne and the 192 causeway in this picture. No dolphins. Back in Palm Bay, I again saw dorsal fins. Definitely fish. Red fish, I thought. Later, a kayaker said they were more likely tarpon. Which makes more sense. Redfish feed in shallow sea grass beds, Palm Bay is relatively deep. That kayaker was one of 4 I saw on the way upstream.

No dolphins, and no manatees or alligators on the upstream trip. As usual, I got out and walked around at the Turkey Creek Sanctuary. Shorter than normal, due to my bad wheel.

As always, Turkey Creek was full of turtles. Birds I saw were blue, green, great blue herons, great egrets, anhingas, pileated woodpeckers, osprey, vultures and ibis.

Pictured are a blue heron, great egret and ibis.

I did see manatees. Three, on the downstream paddle, just upstream of the Port Malabar Rd bridge. A small round object briefly broke the surface. It seemed small for a manatee, was it an otter ? I drifted, eyeing the surface. Two fishermen on the bank said, "See the manatee ? Mother and baby." A-ha ! I'd seen the calf. Then I saw it again, headed upstream. I followed at a respectful distance, and lost it. I turned back, and as I did a fluke rose out of the Creek on the right bank. I then saw another manatee going back downstream, two white scars on its back making it easier to see in the dark water. Including the calf, there were three manatees in the area. No good pictures, here is a poor one.

I did not see any alligators, nor back into Palm Bay, any dolphins.

For some reason, the Goode Park boat ramp area is a major manatee hangout. One or more are almost always present. The reason may be dumb people feeding and petting them. As I approached the ramp, one woman was waving a piece of lettuce in the water, as another guy was tossing pieces of bread in the water. No manatees were present. There has been a sign outlining manatee rules at the Park for the 4 plus years I've been coming here. It is near the beginning of a finger pier, and not the dock where manatee meddlers congregate. Now, if I see a big sign, I'll read it, but I have never seen anyone go over and read the sign. Now, there is an additional sign, at the entrance to the main dock. Two smaller signs are on the dock itself.

Not only can't people read, they can't comprehend a picture with a slash through it.

Or they are blind. As I was taking the picture, a woman came on the dock with her son and grandchildren to look at the manatees. "People feed them" "It's illegal" I told her, "Look at the signs" "What signs?"


The kids did not see any manatees, but they, and I were thrilled to see a dolphin.

I had never seen one near the dock- which is why I had paddled into the Bay and Indian River searching for one. Which is why I love kayaking. you never know what you'll see but its always interesting.
A sneak preview of my July 4 weekend plans. I have a "State Forest Use Permit" to paddle Blackwater Creek. It's good the 4th thorough 9th. Very nice thing to have on one of the busiest boating days of the year. Not only is a permit required, but the combination to a locked gate is required.
So, I'm paddling (R)ock Springs Run
(W)ekiva River
and (B)lackwater Creek this upcoming holiday weekend.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Silver River

I went to bed Friday evening, not having made up my mind where to paddle. Wekiva, Rainbow, Weeki Wachee and Silver Rivers were all possibilities. I woke up about 6 and decided, what the heck, I'll go to the Silver River. I was in the water at 8:30, launching from Ray's Wayside Park just west of the State Road 40 bridge over the Ocklawaha River.

I paddled upstream, putting effort into my strokes. I wanted to beat the Saturday crowds, and the afternoon thunderstorms. I saw two other boats, a family in a power boat, and one kayaker up to the halfway point. There, two canoes launched from Silver River State Park Four craft to share the Silver during the hour forty five minutes it took to reach the head spring/theme park area.

Those are female wood ducks with the turtle. I wonder if the nick on the shell is a gator tooth mark. Yakdave's theory is young alligators will try a bite, learn the hard way (pun intended) this is not an easy meal, and end up sharing the same sunning logs.
The glassbottom boats tours were just beginning when I arrived. You can see the two boats I saw, before I moved downstream to avoid the entire fleet.

After working hard going up, I took it easy coming down.

These are moorhen chicks. First time I've seen young ones.

Kayaks and canoes out numbered powerboats coming upstream. I like that. The entire Silver River is idle speed no wake, so yaks and canoes are perfect for enjoying the broad clear River,

and wildlife.

My readers are thinking, yeah, yeah, cormorants, turtles, gators and butterflies are nice, but this is the Silver River, show us the monkeys !

I saw one small troop, on the way downstream. I went past the canal leading to Ray's Wayside, floating to the confluence with the Oklawaha River, then went up the Ock. Not for long, a large tree blocked the River a short way up. Here is a picture where the spring fed Silver and rain fed Ocklawaha meet.

I landed at 1:20, just short of five hours on the Silver River. My usual routine after yaking the Silver is going the Salt Springs. But it has been closed, and still may be for renovations, so I went to Silver Glen Springs instead.

My bum knee precluded a hike on the Lake George Trail. Instead, I took a short walk on the Boils Trail.

"Boils" are mini-springs, percolating out of the sandy creek bed.

The Yearling Trail is across Highway 19 from Silver Glen Springs. After getting by this fierce gopher tortoise,

it was a short stroll to see several scrub jays.

As you can see, the sky grew dark. I drove through two nasty storms on the drive home. A wind gust during the second storm pushed the yak off center. Banks make excellent places to resecure a kayk in the rain. Covered drive through. The storm littered Highway 17 through Deland with twigs and small branches. Knocked out traffic lights. Which is an opportunity to see how stupid most drivers are. Traffic lights down, its a four way stop.

D'oh !

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Winter Park Chain

I did a two hour paddle on the Winter Park Chain of Lakes this morning. Unlike last time,


when I did the Winter Park part of the Chain, today I did the City of Maitland portion. Lake Maitland and Lake Minnehaha.

I launched from Fort Maitland Park, paddling along the north side of the narrow bay. I saw one other boat on the water. Power boat towing a wake boarder. The kid was good. Did a couple flips. Good stuff.

Following the shore, I headed towards a canal that leads to Lake Minehaha. Very impressive bird life on this suburban lake. Tricolored heron,



Great blue heron,

Great egret

I was surprised to see half a dozen limpkins. I have always considered them a river bird.

All the birds pictured (so far) were seen in an eleven minute span.

I entered the 1/2 mile canal connecting Lake Maitland to Lake Minnehaha. Unlike the canals in the Winter Park part of the chain, it does not have man made cypress planks along its length, just natural vegetation, or lawns, or the occasional dock at the canals edge. About halfway, it widens to a small lake, Lake Nina. I saw a green heron just before entering Lake Minehaha.

Above is the end of the canal, looking towards Lake Minnehana. The top photo is the other end of the canal, the view to Lake Maitland.

I traced the entire shoreline of Lake Minnehaha, which despite having single family homes on every lot other than a small park near the canal, is full of birds. Lots of anhingas perching on docks.

Tri colored, green and great blue herons, and great egrets.

Homeowners on the lake do a good job of keeping the shoreline natural, not manicured, which attracts and supports wildlife.

A three foot gator went below here, just before I got the picture. Two docks away kids netted minnows. That's a canoe on the dock. Over half the homes had kayaks to go with their powerboats. Too many had evil jetskis.

Minnehaha had quite a few wood ducks. I was able to get a picture of one of the colorful, but flighty fowl.

The lake has flora to go with the fauna.

I left Lake Minnehaha, passing beneath a covered bridge in the canal.

Passed sunning turtles in Lake Nina.

Back to Lake Maitland, ospreys searched for fish from on high. Another great egret photo.

More fowl, including a moorhen

Mallards and wood ducks.

A perfect paddling morning, best of all, with no motor, I don't need a Lake Pass.

July 1, 2008 postscript. I was surprised to see limpkins on this paddle, so I sent an email to the local Audubon Society.

Here is the response.

Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 3:44 PM> Davi> Subject: RE: Lake Maitland limpkins>d, Thank you for the info. I will have to check them> out next time I pass the canal. That is a pleasant> surprise!> >

Nice to report something to the experts.