Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Banana River

As a kayaker, I am fortunate to live where I do. Living in the center of Florida, I have multiple options. Last night, planning today's paddle, I considered St. Augustine, then thought the Banana River No Motor Zone would be a good paddle. But over the evening, the marine forecast changed from a light chop to a moderate chop. The River is a not a true river, but an estuary, an arm of the Indian River. Long and wide, a moderate chop would make it a tough paddle. So, I went to bed, thinking I'd go to a true River, the Hillsborough. But, when I arose, the marine forecast called for a light chop. East to KARS Park and the Banana River.

"KARS" stands for Kennedy Athletic Recreational and Social" You don't have to be a Space Center employee to launch your kayak, as long as you have five bucks. I paid mine at the entrance station, a point I need to remember. Looking at the KARS website last night, it said the "Country Store" opens at 8:45. On my to prior visits to KARS I must have arrived after 8:45, as I paid at the store. Today, I paid at the entrance station, and was in the water at 8:30. Note to self-the gate opens a 6:00 am.

A group of 5 or so kayak anglers was preparing to go out as I put in. The Banana River No Motor Zone has world class fishing. No motors means less pressure on the resource both in terms of catch, and keeping the sea grass beds healthy.

Manatees are the reason for the no motor restriction. So, I paddled to a spot where I'd seen them before. Near the docks and boat launch just outside the NMZ. A rosette spoonbill flew north as I made my way south. Into the short channel, lined by rocks/riprap, where snowy egrets and killdeer (pictured) eyed the water.

My third visit to the No Motor Zone, and for the third time, I saw no manatees in the many miles of protected river, but several in the dock area.

My guess is the like the deep water, which, I assume was dredged to create the launch site. The rest of the west shore of the Banana River is very shallow. I left the manatees, and reentered the NMZ. Paddled north.

Took a while to get some good pics, the cormorants were photoed at 9:45. Afterwards, birds were abundant.
Blue heron

Tri colored heron

Reddish egret

Great blue heron

Dancing reddish egret.

I found the, or a spoonbill that I saw at the start of the paddle. There were two, one took off.

There will be more pics of this one.


The osprey was near this sign.

Snowy egrets

As promised, more spoonbill pics. All the same bird.

Tri colored heron.

Reddish egret

I paddled to the NASA causeway. Nothing but buses on the bridge. Tours of the Space Center. A few cars parked on the approach. Have to be a NASA employee or retiree to launch there. I turned around.

Still the same spoonbill. More snowy egrets, reddish egret and tri colored heron.

Birds seen, but not pictured. Green heron, wood stork, black crowned night heron. I also saw several alligators, no pictures. I did not see any dolphins, which was a surprise, having seen them on my prior Banana paddles. Lots of leaping fish, one stingray.

The birds require guidance.

The return paddle was a more difficult than the outbound. More wind as the morning shifted to afternoon, and as usual this time of year, it was out of the south. Heared a noise on the bank,something coming through the growth. Gator? It continued, then I caught a glimpse of black and grunting. Wild pig.

I went back to the boat launch, checking out the manatees. I doubt folks on the cruise ships docked at Port Canaveral see much wildlife.

I wondered what these little bids were. Pint size sea gulls. A few computer clicks reveal they are least terns.

I learn something new every day. I landed just after 2:30. a six hour day. Fishing must have been good, as two of the guys who put in when I did landed as I was driving away. On the other hand, maybe they were out that long just to get one.

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