Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Haulover Canal

Where to kayak this Sunday, November 29, 2009, the last day of my four day Thanksgiving weekend? After seeing manatees Thursday on, and in, Kings Bay, a Yak Tales record thirteen deer along Rock Springs Run on Friday, and monkeys and alligators on the Silver River Saturday. I thought the Econlockhatchee River would be good for bald eagles, Haulover Canal might produce dolphins and rosette spoonbills. When the marine forecast predicted a mostly smooth waters, I headed for the Canal. Where I saw dolphins. And spoonbills.

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.

More fins. There were two dolphins.

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?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Silver River

After Thursday's manatees, and Friday's deer, I decided to paddle the Silver River Saturday, November 28, 2009, to see monkeys. As you can see, I did.
I launched from Ray's Wayside Park. No one in the attendant booth, I paid in the honor pipe. $5.00. I've seen non-payers get tickets. 9:00 am on a cool November Saturday, few vehicles in the lot. One powerboat launching, 4 Canadian canoe racers with two canoes. I was under way just before 9:30. This was my first Silver River paddle since June. The water was lower than it was then, even the canal leading to the River was clear.

3 in 1. Great blue heron, cormorant, great egret.
Ibis in the cypress knees.
Fifty minutes into the paddle, I saw my first monkeys. I actually paddled past, but branches moving caught my eye. As there was no wind, it had to be climbing monkeys.
It was. I drifted back, easy to do as I was going up River, and watched the troop of about ten rhesus monkeys.

Mothers (I assume) grooming youngsters, older ones playing in the trees, while Dad, or maybe Grandma, looks on.

There were more monkeys on the Silver River than people on my way River. Just the Canadian canoers and one power boat.

The hard charging Canucks came back from the Springs just as I passed the half way point, the Silver Springs State Park launch/landing. I don't think they took any pictures.

It took me just over two hours to get to the head springs/theme park area
I may not have been to Silver Springs in 5 months, but I've been there often enough that I recognize the voice of one of the glass bottom boat drivers. Here's my tour. There are several springs on both sides of the River. Here are two of them.

As a tour boat guide pointed out mundane things like turtles and cormorants, I watched another troop of monkeys racing up and down trees along the south bank of the River. Other than the above photo, they were to shielded by the trees for pictures. Another item shielded by trees. I've never noticed this building before. Also on the south bank.
On my way up River, I saw the first alligators I've seen in the last few weeks, saw a couple more on the way down. Just one out of the water.

The way down River was busier than the way up, it was Saturday after all, but nothing like a summer weekend.

More rental canoes from Silver River State Park than I've seen before. The rentals are a relatively new feature of the Park, maybe a year, year and a half.

I considered landing at the Park, but when I went by, two kayaks were on the narrow metal ramp, so I kept going.

I took a break down River. There are few places to get out, the shoreline is cypress knees and half plant, half water for the most part. The best landing area immediately down River of the Park ramp is marked "Private Property". Must be an old landowner, as most of the shoreline is State Park land.

I saw what likely was the same troop of monkeys, being fed by idiots in a pontoon boat. Throwing food. When I passed, they asked if there were more monkey up River. "I don't know, but hopefully there is a ranger to give you knuckleheads a ticket for feeding wild animals"

At least the tour boat operators weren't having their passengers toss bread out of the tour boats. I saw that a while back. After which I emailed my concern to the State and the theme park. Never got a response, but haven't seen it happen again.

I landed just past 2:30, a nice 5 hour trip. Extended the day, as I often do after yaking the Silver River my going to Silver Glen Springs. I used to go to Salt Springs, but that is still closed for renovations.

With the cool temperatures the last two days, I wondered if manatees might visit the Spring. As I paid the $4.28 entry fee, I leaearned two were nearby, about 600 yards down the short spring run, and into Lake George, according to a gentleman who was returning his rental paddle and lifejacket. I bet they were in the Spring at daybreak.

I had the Spring to myself, a family was just getting out. I made my usual comment I make to anyone with out a mask and snorkel. "Bet its your first time, as next time you will have a mask and snorkel" "They are in a bag, back home in South Florida. We forgot them" They told me there had been a good-sized crowd, up to 3 PM. Florida- Florida State kick off was 3:30.

I snorkled to the end of the swim area, peering out, maybe one of the manatees would swim into the Spring. Not while I was there. I did see two sting rays.

After my swim, I took about an hour walk on the Lake George and Spring Boils Trails. Indian mound.

Moss draped pine.

I often see deer on the Lake George Trail, but not today. I did see Lake George.

Readers with good memories will recall I was surprised to find out on my last visit, 2 or 3 weeks ago, that Silver Glen Recereation Area closes at sunset, not 8 pm as stated on a sign at the park. That sign is now covered by a "sunset" sign. Speaking of which.
A quick walk on the Yearling Trail, across Highway 19 from Silver Glen. Once again, no scub jays. But, a great sunset over Juniper Prarie Wilderness