I also saw blue, great blue, and green herons, belted kingfishers, wood ducks and vultures.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I also saw blue, great blue, and green herons, belted kingfishers, wood ducks and vultures.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I am glad I grabbed the local section of the Orlando Sentinel after finishing the sports pages at lunch. Or I would have missed this article.
The printed page had a picture, the web link does not. After reading, I knew where I was going after work.
I arrived at the Park, and walked down the steps to the Spring. Hoping for a chance to see a manatee where they have not been spotted in generations. After reading the article, I assumed swimming would not be allowed, but had the snorkel gear in the car just in case. As I got closer, I saw a group of 15-20 people standing on the concrete deck overlooking the Spring vent. A couple folks were in the water. And, from the loud conversation, so was a manatee. I did not see it, but dashed up the stairs, got on my swim trunks, grabbed the snorkel gear, and hurried back to the Spring. But, just as I was about to go in, a ranger came and instructed those in the water to get out. So sat on the edge, hoping for a glimpse. Which was difficult, as I my glasses were on a bench with the rest of my stuff. After awhile, I got up to get my glasses. Back to the edge, I commented to a gentleman in a wetsuit that noisy kids playing on the steps were as loud as a motor boat, keeping the manatee submerged. He agreed, saying if people had kept quiet, the ranger may not have come down. Eventually, I saw air bubbles, but no manatee. Finally, I saw it, just a brief look at the snout as it came up for air.
The manatee was in the center of the pool. The ranger eased the no swim ban, saying we could swim around the rim of the Spring pool, but if the manatee approached, we would have to get out.
So I began to snorkel. The water was a bit cloudy from the recent record rainfall. I could not see the manatee as I circled the pool. A second lap, and I saw it. I took a few pictures, but distance, cloudy water, and late hour conspired against me. As did the ranger, who told me to move away as the Spring flow pushed me towards the manatee. I gave the ranger a thumbs up, and moved closer to the edge. I made another lap and a half, but did not see the manatee again. It must have swam out of the pool into the Lagoon area, as a few folks were back swimming in the middle of the Spring pool.
Earlier this year, I wrote about seeing a manatee near Katies Landing. That manatee made it as far as the State Road 46 Bridge http://davesyaktales.blogspot.com/2008/04/wonderous-wekiva.html
That seacow was 10 miles downstream of the Spring, and was a rare sighting. A manatee in the Spring is something never seen,as far as I know, in recorded history. If you have read more than three Tales on this site, you know I see manatees often, and have had the opportunity to get close. But to see one in my "home " Spring, above water, in the water, in the center of the State of Florida, was special, even if I do not have a photo to post.
Monday, August 25, 2008
My usual put in on the northeast side of the Canal was closed. A gate crossing the dirt road, first time I've seen that. There is a sign at the entrance "If Littering Continues, The Area Will Be Closed For 30 Days " Was it closed for that reason, or was the road washed out, or did a Federal employee not wake up ? Later, I asked some anglers at the launch how the road was, they said fine. Dedicated, they parked and walked. I put in at the other side, near the Bairs Cove Ramp. A tour group from a local outfit, A Day Away Tours, was at the same spot, guide on his phone, directing guests to the new put in. I got set to go, grabbed the sunscreen, which wasn't there. Oh well, I'll only be out a couple hours, how red can I get ?
I headed out, reached for my watch, forgot that too. I'd use the tour group as my watch, figuring they had a two hour tour. My tour began at the manatee hangout, Bairs Cove. None made their prescience known. I headed west, towards the Indian River, past a great blue heron, snowy egret, and great egret.
Into the Indian River, a dolphin broke the surface to my left. More dolphins ahead, as I made way to Mullet Head Island.
This pic, and the opener, are that pod.
High water affects bird life. I usually see waders, herons, egrets, on Mullet Head. Today, the only waders were ibis. Lots of roosting divers, cormorants and pelicans.
I paddled back to the Canal, no boats as you can see.
As usual, I did not enter the Canal from the perspective in the photo, but from the channel to the north, right in this view. Saw another dolphin. Along with another indication of highwater, a low limestone, tree covered barrier between the main canal and my route. In normal conditions, the limestone is much higher.
No dolphins in "Dolphin Cove", nor manatees in Bairs Cove. On the the Manatee Overlook, where, after waiting, I saw a manatee raise its fluke. On towards the Mosquito Lagoon, where, in the cut leading to the protected bay like area, another dolphin hunted.
Again, deeper than usual water was a factor, this area is usually quite shallow, this dolphin was further in the area than I have seen in my four years visiting Haulover Canal.
I paddled on, exiting back into the Canal from another cut, into the Mosquito Lagoon, around and island, the first of a string that go on to the north, back into the sheltered bay. The dolphin was gone, but a manatee surfaced in the same area. Meanwhile, two manatees came up loudly in the canal, spray blowing from of their noses, flukes raised high, backs arched, as the were in a hurry to get somewhere. This great blue heron, on the other hand, was patient.
I kayaked back to the Overlook, and saw a manatee. Got a picture, barely, but since I have good photos from yesterday at 1000 Islands, I won't post it. I also saw the tour group for the first time since I put in. They landed, I went to Bairs Cove. Again, no manatees seen. I went on the Dolphin Cove, into the Canal a bit, than back to Bairs. It is the rare occasion that I don't see manatees here, and on the fourth visit today, I saw one. Also this bird duo.
Here's a close up of the reddish egret.
I had a nice two hours on the water, which is plenty of time for a bright, red sunburn. The SPF 30 was on the kitchen counter, where it had fallen out of the cooler.
Hopefully I'll have is Saturday afternoon, when I'll be yaking again, after working the a.m. to make up for today's short day.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Counting the North Carolina trip, I have four consecutive weekends of new paddling places for Dave's Yak Tales. This was my second visit to the 1000 Islands, located on the Banana River in Cocoa Beach, off A1A, just south of the Minuteman Causeway. I paddled it in March 2006. Today, Sunday, August 24, 2008 I made it back.
The boat ramp is at a park on the end of the appropriately named Ramp Road. I parked next to a concrete ramp, and walked to the restrooms. On the way, I passed a second, smaller concrete ramp, with a dock underwater. The restrooms appear to be permanently closed, so as I did a Who's Next homage behind the building I spotted the kayak launch. A cut in the mangroves with an astroturf ramp. Which was completely underwater. If you don't know, Cocoa Beach is in Brevard County, which was pummeled all week by Tropical Storm Fay. Lots of dry palm fronds down near the ramp. Here's a picture of the launch.
As I put in, I heard the distinctive, "Pheeww" of a surfacing manatee. I did not see it. Due to manatees, the entire 1000 Islands are a year round no wake area. The Islands were formed thousands of years ago, and mosquito control projects in the 1960's cut canals in the area. Perfect for paddling.
A marked channel, green and red day posts, passes the ramp. I took it north and east, famiarlizing myself with the area. Off the marked waterway a maze of mangrove islands waits to be explored. Homes line part of the north side of this channel. Fortunately, plans for more development of the area has been quashed.
Wading birds like the picture great blue and tri colored heron roost in the mangroves.
I paddled to a spot where a channel intersected the route I was taking. Manatees were in the intersection. Two are visible in the first photo. My last couple of manatee posts I had to apologize for poor photos. Not today.
One of the group decided to check me out. It pushed the yak for a while, than swam back and forth underneath the hull, coming up for a taste.
Eventually, the sea elephant sought more interesting companions, and waved goodbye.
I followed the manatees, at a distance, back the way I came. After a while, the disappeared. I returned to the ramp, dropping off four glass bottles I retrieved from the water. Then back in the yak, this time south bound. Large condos or apartments line the west shore, but you can soon enter the mangrove maze and think you are in the middle of the Everglades or other wild location.
I entered the open water of the Banana River, hoping to add a dolphin to my manatee sighting. I did not see any.
Nor did I see the mantee(s) that surfaced below my kayak, raising it high out of the water, dropping it with a tremendous splash. I just griped my paddle and enjoyed the ride. As it was happened, I thought, this one could capsize me. It did not, but this is why I always wear a lifejacket. This is not the first time I've had a manatee surface below me. From the duration, splash, size of the wake as it, they swam away just below the surface, it had to be more than one. I provide entertainment for a father and son fishing . "How's your kayak ?" "Wet !"
After that open water thrill, I sought the sancturary of the mangroves. I do not think a canoe could make it through this tunnel.
Unless the paddler got off the seat and sat on the bottom. In a different mangrove maze I think I saw an alligator. I was focused on an osprey, but saw something floating at the entrance of another narrow cut in the mangroves. Could be a gator, I'll have to look closer after this picture, I thought.
When I turned around, the object was gone, but air bubbles floated to the surface. Pretty sure is was an alligator.
The mangrove islands can be confusing, this steeple is a good navigational aid.
It's close to the ramp area, which I passed, looking for more manatees.
I found two, in a residential canal, and observed them from a distance. "Leave them alone ! " an unseen voice rang out. Sounded like the classic mean old lady whose yard is foul territory because no one has the guts to get the ball out of her garden. As I was leaving them alone, I continued my observation, noting all the docks have power boats. I think Mrs Grumpy should be more concerned about her neighbors, but it is always good to see, or in this case hear, someone with a passion for manatees.
I spent about 4.5 hours on the water. The 1000 Islands are a great paddle, open water to narrow mangrove tunnels, lots of wildlife. I need to visit more than once every 31 months.
There is also a post on the Green Wave Forum.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The drag to the launch was twenty five- thirty yards shorter than normal. Usually there's another ten yards of dry land in front of the trash receptacle and kiosk. The River was all the way up to and beneath the rental shack.
I cast off, seeing the boardwalk from the launch beach to the spring underwater, the footbridge separating the swim area from the paddling area above water, barely.
Downstream towards Rock Springs Run, I had to maneuver around a couple downed trees. The River, normally clear close to the Spring, was brown from runoff after four days of relentless rain. Also wide, spreading into the adjacent forest. I reached Rock Springs Run, also brown water. The current was not as swift as I expected. Water very high. I could not see a landmark, a sandbar, run right, protected by a wall of logs. All underwater.
I had been out for a hour when I made the turn.
I saw limpkins, and more osprey than usual on the Run. More water than usual to find fish. As I paddled, I noticed something. Or rather, the lack of something. No high water marks on the trees. The Run was higher than the high water mark.
Back to the Wekiva, I followed it downstream. This great blue heron posed on a downed tree just upstream of the bridge before Wekiva Marina.
Turtles have their own homestead.
At 9:30, I paddled past the large, ancient shell mound. Today, the rope swing was this high.
August of 2007, this high.
I paddled past,thinking I'd take a break at the Buffalo Tram campsite, should it be empty. I don't know what I was thinking, after seeing the Shell Mound so low. Buffalo Tram was empty of campers, but full of River.
Last visit, the sign was well back of the bank. I paddled over the campground, I looked for the fire ring, but could not locate it in the dark water.
A trail, wide enough for Park service vehicles to traverse, leads away from the campsite. A good place to stretch your legs.
Today, you would have been wet to mid thigh. I headed up the trail for five minutes, until coming to downed limbs in the water/trail way. Beyond the obstacle the water was still navigable, but I reversed course. The Wekiva flowed deep into the palm and oak hammock, its amazing what four plus days of rain can do.
I left Buffalo Tram rejoining the "regular" channel of the Wekiva.
Here is the sign, from behind. Remember, it usually is set back 10-15 yards from the River.
With the Wekiva overflowing its banks, I explored places I have not been before, off the main channel. Back to the Shell Mound, I took a break on high dry ground. I packed the loaf of bread bag that held my sandwich and cookies with beer bottles and cans as I left.
I thought after four days of no sun, I would see more alligators. On the other hand, favorite sunning perches were underwater. I did see five, heard a sixth. Here are three.
I saw two other paddlers, or four. Four guys in two canoes from the Wekiva Marina. Seems they opened for business despite the high water.