Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Orlando Wetlands Park

I visited Orlando Wetlands Park for a bike ride after work today, Tuesday, June 20, 2010. I chose the above picture for the opening because it has four different birds. Left to right; blue heron, anhinga ( I think, hard to be sure with its head in grooming
On my last visit, I learned where a caracara nest is, and saw the young bird. Looking up at the trees today, I could not see it, or its parents. I knew it was position, black bellied whistling duck, and ibis. This is the slow season for birding in Florida.
near a picnic shelter. Correction, in the picnic shelter.

Nice way to start the ride. Actually, I was on foot here. On the bike, first stop, tri colored heron.

Next, an alligator. I was riding atop a berm. Not very wide. If two vehicles were coming toward each other, both would have to pull to the side to pass. So after taking the photo of the gator on the edge of the road, I thought for a moment before pedaling past.
I figured it would run towards the water, not me. It did. Of course, there is water on either side of the berm, but it went straight, not across the path. As did a second gator a few yards down that I had not seen in the tall grass.

Great egret, young blue heron and great blue heron.

Not a soul in the Park. Unless, you believe black bellied whistling ducks, anhingas, and moorhens have soul.

And snowy egrets and deer. There were three deer here. Once again, I was too slow. At least I got one to show you.

A nice thing about the berm road is it is fairly hard, but with a light layer of fine dirt. So the tire tracks from service vehicles, other bikes, feet, including one person who had been bare foot are easily seen. And of course, animal tracks. I saw one set, thought, dog, then remembered pets aren't allowed. I rode on, raccoon tracks, saw a family of turkeys cross into the woods, their three toed track clear, then the "dog" track again. Not a dog, four toes, heel pad, no nails, I bet its was a bobcat track.

I saw more alligators during my 7.22 mile ride, most in the water, one diving off the bank as I approached. The Park is divided into 15 cells, water flowing from one to the next as the effluent that begins when people flush is processed through various vegetation. Berms divide the cells. Some of the berms are less traveled then others. On one of these, riding on a narrow track in the grass, I startled an alligator just a few feet in front of me. Cool to see it run into the water. Cooler to not see it run at me.

Back to the parking area. The caracara seems to enjoy the picnic shelter.

Between the caracara and an unseen hawk I heard screeching, I think this rabbit's days are numbered.
These Tuesday evening bike rides I've been doing these long summer nights have been great. Except for one thing. They've been cutting into my Wednesday morning Rock Springs Run paddles. Hard to get up early enough. It's 11:20 pm now, I'll be up for while. At least I have the Winter Park Chain as a fallback plan.


A3 said...

Hello Dave,

Last year we came from the Netherlands to kayak 'your' famous Rock Spings Run. It was great fun.

This year we were just a few days behind you (26th actually) in the wetlands park. We did not see gators, although i did see those upon returning august 2nd.

We also noticed the (crested?) caracara in the picknick area. In fact, I chased it for a few hundred yards. But it outflew me....

Keep up the writing & kayaking. It's a great read!


Dave said...

Crested caracara is correct. Glad you enjoyed Wetlands Park, and Dave's Yak Tales.