Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Haulover Canal

Sunday, May 3, 2o09. The first dolphin on Dave's Yak Tales since March 15, which was my last visit to Haulover Canal. I was thinking of going to the Canaveral National Seashore, but the marine forecast which on Friday called for a light chop today, down to moderate chop last night, deteriorating to rough when I tuned in this morning. But the wind wasn't forecast to pick up until the afternoon, plus the canal would provide shelter. Not to mention my more seaworthy kayak.

The Indian River was choppy when I launched about 10:30 and set course for Mullet Head Island. As I was unloading the yak, a rosette spoonbill flew over, on its way to the bird sanctuary. It met lots of friends.

It may have been the greatest concentration of spoonbills I've seen on Mullet Head. Plenty of other birds. Pelicans and cormorant.

Reddish egrets and cormorant.

Ibis, reddish egrets, rosette spoonbill, pelican, and the Zelig/Forest Gump of Mullet Head, cormorant.

One more spoonbill.

The always popular bird, pelican here, on the Refuge sign shot.

Trip around the Island complete, I paddled back to the Canal, as always entering to the south of the main channel. As often happens, the place where the channel meets Haulover Canal, the spot I call "Dolphin Cove" lived up to its name.

Paid a visit to Bairs Cove. Three or four manatees. No good pictures. I paddled through the Canal, to the open area on the left, then into the Mosquito Lagoon, looking south to the distant launch towers, back around some islands into the open, protected area, back to the canal. Saw these birds.

Great blue heron, pelican, osprey and two reddish egrets. Saw more manatees in the Canal, and the Mosquito Lagoon. Also saw a lot of anglers. In boats, on both banks. I asked one guy in a small motor boat if it was the opening weekend for some species. "No, I don't why all these people are here, I've never seen it this crowded" Nor have I. Despite the crowd, I could still find spots of solitude, the open water north of the Canal, screened by a line of islands from the Lagoon, being one example.

Paddled back towards the Indian River, past Bairs Cove, where three boats were lined up to use the ramp. Not good for manatee watching. And I knew of a more secluded spot. So on I went. The dolphin in the opening photo was in Dolphin Cove. I exited the cove, paddled through the alternate channel, into the Mosquito Lagoon.

I found manatees where I thought I would. I am not going to report where it is, to keep it secluded. Having written that, I have disclosed the location in prior Tales.

Three very active manatees. They came to me, gently rising under the yak, lifting it gently, seeing if it was compatible, perhaps ? Several dives back and forth below me. I paddled away, and they followed. Again and again. They kept surfacing at the back of the yak, so I could not get any really good shots. All this with no one around. No need to feed or pet the manatees. They came to me on their terms. As it should be.

I landed at 2:20, just after taking this photo.

Had I aimed a bit lower, I may have got the manatee that raised its fluke as it swam by.

I put the kayak on the car, and learned it will balance on its side. Which comes in handy at a place like Haulover Canal, with a sandy, gritty launch site. On its side, I can wipe off the bottom before putting it on the roof.

I stopped at the Scrub Ridge Trail on the way out of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. The forecast late afternoon winds arrived. This kept the birds hunkered down. Here are two. A Florida scrub jay.

Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Lift off is scheduled for 2 PM next Monday, so I probably won't see it from the kayak. But launches are often delayed, I'm not counting out a visit to Haulover Canal in the next two weeks.

A Mullett Head video. If the narrator would shut up, maybe you could hear the birds.

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