There was a change in my usual Rainbow trip. It did not include the Withlaccoche River. Instead of launching from the Dunnellon City Hall ramp on US 41, I put in at the Marion County Highway 484 Bridge, directly on the Rainbow. This is the takeout for folks tubing the River, and is packed in hot weather. Although the weather is still warm, people don't tube in November. The dirt parking area was empty when I arrived, and remained so when I got on the water at 8:00.
The Rainbow is the best place I have paddled for otters. I saw them four times today.
Dave's Yak Tales is your trusted source for the above statement. I think cormorants gather as the crystal clear water makes fishing easy.
Speaking of fishing, the only boat I saw for almost an hour and a half was a fisherman. I did not see anyone else until I got to KP Hole Park, where paddlers were launching along with pontoon boats taking scuba divers up River.
Across from KP Hole, upstream of the State Park Campground, I paddled up the narrow spring run as far as the No Trespassing sign. I miss my "secret spring." I saw another otter on the bank of the beautiful creek.
Back to the Rainbow, I began to look for places where I could get out of the kayak and snorkel on the return trip. I wasn't finding any, as each spot I checked had a soft bottom near the shore. Snorkeling, except in a designated area, is not allowed once past this sign.
In the State Park property, the first of many springs is in a cove just to the left and behind the sign. Maybe I could, on the sly, get in the water here. But, the water was a bit deep next to the bank, and there was another problem.
Boy, the State is tough about enforcing the No Swim rule. I landed next to the rental concession. There is a twenty or so foot long wood deck with 4 steps/platforms. No slip surface on the steps and ropes to tie up. I tied up, walked to the top of the hill overlooking the River, ate and took the picture at the beginning of this Tale.
Rainbow Springs State Park has, of course, springs, several of them,
Which, although artificial, make for good pictures. People across the world may think Florida is a land of lush foliage and falling waters. A waterfall photo from my December, 2007 Rainbow River Tale frequently comes up as the link someone saw before coming to Dave's Yak Tales.
Here are two birds other than cormorants.
A "great" pair.
I left the Park, headed downstream, and eventually found a good spot to get out of the yak and don snorkel gear. When I saw this, my first though was where is the fish that produced this sperm cloud.
Then I looked up, and saw a cormorant flying away. S..t, that was close.
Here are some other underwater pics.
And some more.
I was in the water about 45 minutes, getting out at the KP Hole Ramp. Two pontoon boats with wet suit clad divers waited to go out. Poor people, can't; kayak up and snorkel back like me. And I had more paddling ahead.
Ducks. I see these all over, including the pond at my job- which also has mallards, ibis, tri colored heron, snowy egret, great egrets, great blue herons, and otters and more. I do not know what these ducks are called. As always, your input is welcome.
I do know these are turtles.
Thanks to an early start and shorter than usual paddle on the Rainbow, I had time left before sunset. So, I headed south to Crystal River. I have said I would never go to Crystal River on a weekend. Too crowded. But, seeing how uncrowded the Rainbow had been, and being close by, I figured I'd take a chance. As I was getting ready to launch at the ramp next to Birds Underwater, a Citrus County Sheriff was landing. I asked how the crowds were. "Not bad at all"
I made the short trip to the canal leading to Three Sisters Springs. I left the canal to enter another canal/spring run that will close on Saturday, November 15 as a manatee sanctuary. Near the point where the second canal meets the Three Sisters Canal, I saw a manatee swirl, but no manatee. There is a spring here, Magnolia Spring. A couple kayaking said they saw two. Then a manatee surfaced in the Three Sisters Canal. I went into the canal and paddled to Three Sisters. Were 5 or six boats were anchored outside the Springs. I paddled in, and saw why I said I will not go to Crystal River on a weekend. There had to be 40 people in the Springs. I left. As I passed a group of wet suited divers out side the entrance (in addition to the 40), a woman said, "We saw a baby" Which, I thought, isn' t good- you should have seen the mother too. The crowd had probably separated mother and child. I headed back to Magnolia Spring, thinking I'd wait until 4:30, and by that time the crowd at Three Sisters would diminish. I did not have time to go to Kings Spring.
My plan worked to perfection. I arrived at Magnolia Springs, waited a few minutes, and a manatee surfaced. Then two more, and a fourth.
I was the only human. Quite a different scene from that less than five minutes away at Three Sisters, 50 people and no manatees. As I observed the manatees, I kept my eye on the canal, recognizing boats that had been at Three Sisters, leaving. I headed back to Three Sisters, passing this yellow crowned night heron on the way.
I paddled between the concrete pylons into the empty ! Three Sisters. I anchored the yak, got out, careful to not touch the shore, and snorkeled. The crowd had left the usually clear springs cloudy, but I was still able to get a snapper school on digital.
The biggest school of needle fish I've ever seen also inhabited the middle Sister. I snorkeled about all three Sisters, then swam out the run to the canal and the Spring at the entrance. This will be closed on Saturday the 15th. As I swam out, three kids walked in, furthter stirring up the bottom. I came back as they left. I got in the yak, and headed back to the ramp.
But, not without a stop at Magnolia Springs. The manatees were still there, and a family in a pontoon boat. Three kids jumped in, and pursued a manatee. If they had been readers of Dave's Yak Tales they would know this is not acceptable behavior. Do not chase, let them come to you if so inclined.
As the kids wondered where the manatee went, I saw its wake headed up the Magnolia Canal. That was where I had to go, so I followed, at a respectful distance. I passed it, getting my best view of the day of the manatee below the surface to my right.
Back to the launch, where ibis flocked to three small islands. Also pelicans, cormorants and blue herons. Unfortunately, darkness, and the second battery of the day expiring ended my picturing taking. Which was a good thing, as 102 was plenty to sort through for this tale.
But, if you want to see even more pictures (14), visit http://www.clubkayak.com/greenwave/treports.asp?trip=293