A dolphin patrolled the Indian River just off the launch area as I drove to the end of the dirt road. The Canal was bustling with activity at 10 am. I had gone to the other side, at the Bairs Cove Launch, to use the port-o-let. Had to sit down. The lot was full, boats and trailers also in the unpaved area down the entrance road. A boat and trailer in the turnaround waiting to launch. I left, went to the other side, took a walk in the woods before pushing off. Got a picture of the dolphin as I headed out to Mullet Head Island, a mile off shore.
I did not see the pelican when I took this photo.
As I drove to the Canal, a flock of white pelicans flew overhead, the first I've seen this season. They migrate, spending the winter in Florida and other Gulf states, plus Mexico. Padding to the Island, I saw large white birds. White pelicans.
There also were medium sized pink birds, rosette spoonbills.
Plenty of brown pelicans.
There also were the usual cormorants, osprey, gulls, great blue herons, and vultures. After my Mullet Head circuit, I paddled back towards the Canal.
Headed south across the Canal to one of my secret manatee spots. Did not see any. It has been getting cooler, and manatees likely are moving, or have moved to warm water sites. Today was nice, no jacket required. I headed back to the Canal, taking the alternate entrance, shown here.
This channel joins the Canal at the spot I call "Dolphin Cove". I saw brown pelicans as I approached, and thought, where dolphins fish, pelicans follow.
Nice to be right now and then.
Paddled into Bairs Cove, did not see or hear any manatees. Headed east, under the drawbridge and across the Canal to the Manatee Overlook, saw one.
Birds of Haulover.
Explored the open area on the north side of the Canal, than back in the Canal where it empties into the Mosquito Lagoon. A lot of fishing boats at the entrance. Some sort of run must be going on. Almost as many boats as for a shuttle launch. Speaking of which, here are the launch towers.
I had paddled south from the Canal, now I turned back, paddled north, crossing the entrance. The "mostly smooth" marine forecast was correct.
The pelican-dolphin theory worked again as I watched 4, perhaps 5 dolphins feeding, pelicans chasing after them, hoping for scraps. I was unable to get any photos, until I was back in the Canal, at the Manatee Overlook where I got the picture that opens this Tale. Also saw three more manatees, no pictures. Back to Bairs Cove, more birds, no manatees.
Another thing I did not see was kayaks. None in the 3 hours 45 minutes I was on the water. One canoe, a angler who had it rigged with outriggers so he could stand and cast with confidence. A note on other boats. The worst violators of the Slow Speed Minimum Wake restriction were big sail boats. Not sailing, motoring through the Canal. They'd smile, I'd say "Can you even spell slow, much less minimum?" Bleeping rich bleepers must have inherited the yacht, as how can they make money to buy one being illiterate? Dolphins, two back at Dolphin Cove, are more intelligent.
Finally, after all the fins, a tail shot.
Waters still smooth, now on the Indian River, Vehicle Assembly Building in the distance.
I landed just before 2, this osprey the last paddling picture.
Last paddling picture as there is lots of land based wildlife to observe in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refugee. My first stop, the Scrub Jay Trail. No jays landing on my head this visit, I did not see any. I was not there long. Birds may not have landed on me, but a lot of mosquitoes did. Next stop, Black Point Wildlife Drive. First three pics taken from the car.
These taken from the Wild Birds Trail, the new short, 1/4 dike observation location with two blinds.
Last photo, alligator of the Cruickshank Trail Parking lot.
I did not stroll to the Observation Tower. People were there, more on the trail. I'd seen enough wildlife the last 4 days. Domestic life too. Question for dog owners. Why bring your dog to a bird refuge?