Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, July 25, 2010

DeLeon Springs, Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

I visited DeLeon Springs State Park today, Sunday, July 25, 2010. First time since December, when my paddle was cut short by weeds blocking Spring Garden Creek. Lots of weeds and plants today, but navigable. I asked the entrance station ranger if she knew whether or not it was blocked. She did not know. Seems to me that would be important information to have. I was going to stop and report on the conditions on the way out, but forgot. Another thing I forgot was the combination to the gate that leads to the boat launch. I thought 1212. Another strike for the entrance ranger, not giving me the combo. Did not work. So I wheeled the yak to the launch. Not far from where I parked, 50 yards maybe. New concrete since December. Sand area to the right for paddle craft. I was in Spring Garden Lake at 9:20.

This brochure has some maps of the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, so you can follow my trip.http://www.library.fws.gov/Refuges/lakewoodruff02.pdf

At least I hope so. Last time I tried this with Seminole State Forest, the link busted. DeLeon Spring is at the north east corner of Spring Garden Lake. As the crow flies, you would hug the north shore of the Lake. As the kayaker paddles, one must go south, then west past the great egrets and great blue herons foraging in the mass of small lily pads

Once in Spring Garden Creek, the left, south shore is Wildlife Refugee land. The north side is just as wild, just not part of the Refuge, until the Creek gets close to Lake Woodruff.

I was in a Wildlife Refuge, but only saw a great blue heron, an osprey and a couple alligators on the Creek. I'd like to say the 4 airboats that went loudly by scared everything away, but more likely its just the season. I did not take a photo until I got to my usual rest spot.

Hunt? In July? I think the sign wasn't taken down after last fall's season. I did not hear any guns, and an online search only found archery hunts in Sept and Oct, and muzzleloading gun hunts in Oct and Nov. I did not stop, now.

This point "Pontoon Landing" (There was a pontoon here back when I first visited, in 2005, it is now at Hontoon Island State Park, to transport Park vehicles across the St Johns River) is the start of a Manatee Zone that continues to Lake Woodruff. I have yet to see a manatee here, only spotting them near the Spring, in winter. But, finally some wildlife to photo. A moorhen.

Paddled into Lake Woodruff, bearing west, along the north shore. Or, rather along the lily pads off shore. Which I learned were easy enough to get over and through, so I got close to shore. Where these birds were.

OK, birders, what are these? My first guess, yellow legs, but those have longer beaks. I do know this is a blue heron.

I paddled past one bend on the shore, to a second with a stand of tall, dead, trees. Cypress Point? There I turned back. Looking at the photo, I mean "near" not "to"
You can also see the "little lily pads" that covered the near shore. Not to mention the clouds. Here are more reflection photos.

More reflections, back ins Spring Garden Creek.

It took a while, but the bird pics began to add up. Two views of a tri colored heron

I also saw six, at least, swallow tail kites. One swooped down to Creek level, perhaps snatching a bug off the surface. It repeated, then rose high in the sky.

The kites were near Pontoon Landing. I stopped to stretch my legs, have a bite to eat. Stretched in place, due to the hunting sign, but I do no think any was going on. Normally, I will walk on the trail for a while. Back in the yak, for an anhinga, a gator, and more big fluffy clouds.

Besides the 4 evil air boats, which I also saw on Lake Woodruff, I saw three motor boats, another evil air boat, and the State Park tour boat. No paddlers until I was almost back to Spring Garden Lake. Which is where I saw the green heron pair featured in the opening photo.

Great blue heron

And a blue heron. Plenty of rental canoes, kayaks and paddleboats near the State Park.

The Park was packed. I took this shot from where I parked, more for the grist mill thorough the oak, but it shows the size of the crowd. As I loaded, a couple loaded their yaks, unlocking the gate. 2121, not 1212. I jumped in the spring pool for a quick cool down. Can't remember the last time I was in a spring without mask, snorkel, flippers, and camera.

I left Deleon Springs State Park, forgoing the opportunity to cook my own pancakes, and drove 3.3 miles to the land side of the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. On the way, I noticed a nice new section of the "Springs to Springs" paved trail through the hamlet of Glenwood. The Refuge has a section of water impoundments, I have walked on the berms in the past. Time to check it out by bike. These views are from an observation tower.

Down from the tower, and off the berms, into the forest.

I recognized where I was. This trail leads to Pontoon Landing. I've walked it, perhaps not this far inland, after landing on Spring Garden Creek. I did not go far today, it was hot, and I had not ate much all day. Here's a redneck's dream car.
I rode 4 miles. Not many birds on a mid afternoon July day.

So few, I posted vultures, which I rarely do, and two perspectives of a great blue heron. I'll be back in the fall.


Joanne said...

Your birds are immature moorhens.

Dave said...

Thank you, Joanne.

Unknown said...

We just discovered the beautiful lake woodruff refuge to today. Do you know if you can kayak or canoe in that exact area?

Dave said...

Unknown, see the map above. You can launch at Deleon Springs, and land at Pontoon Landing. A long hike.