Today I did something I've been contemplating since my first visit to the Forest in March, 2005. A car/bike shuttle to Katie's Landing.
I've delayed because I did not want to risk my road bike on the crushed rock road in the Forest. The new Kona trail bike solved that concern. So, I dropped off the kayak, left the Forest, drove to Katie's, saw a deer on the way out, dropped off the car, biked 5 miles back to the launch site. In the water around 9:15
This log has been packed with baby gators on prior paddles. Natural selection?
The great egret, above, was in the same neighborhood with the same squawking great blue heron trio I saw last Sunday.
The odd bird out was driven off before I came around a bend for a photo. This is could be the third wheel, 15 minutes down Creek.
Saw more alligators, but no pics of large ones until just before the trees toppled across the Creek.
I should get some DYT stickers for dragonflies to read.
I reached the Wekiva River at 11:38. It was clear, shallow and swift.
I considered heading down stream first, for the chance to see manatees where the River gets deeper and wider. I did not want to work that hard, have the extra up Creek paddling time, so I decided to be satisfied with the manatees I saw, but did not photo, on Saturday. As you may have deduced from the opening photo, I did see a manatee.
I don't know about you, but sometimes, when I see something unexpected, it takes a while for my eyes to convince my brain. I was not expecting to see a manatee 30 minutes up the Wekiva from Blackwater Creek. My first thought was "a manatee", followed by, "a log poking up and down with the current", then, as it swam under the yak, "that's a huge turt.. manatee!" Actually a small manatee. After checking me out it turned back up River and grabbed hold of the branch you see with one flipper so the current would not take it downstream as it fed. That allowed me the chance to take photos.
While it was a surprise to see a manatee this far up the Wekiva, it is not unprecedented. I saw one a few years ago near the houses just up stream of Wekiva Haven, and most unusual, one in Wekiwa Spring after a week of rain in August, 2008, courtesy of Tropical Storm Fay.
Just 3 other boats during my two hours on the Wekiva. The section between Blackwater Creek and Katie's Landing is the least traveled on the River as it is a long way from any launch or rental concession. Katie's is the nearest launch, and it is non-motorized boats only.
Anhinga furled, and unfurled.
Is "furled" a word?
The two great blue heron shots are the same bird. I think it was looking for interesting trees to pose on. I neared Katie's Landing and thought, "what if the River is blocked" That has happened, thanks to weeds overgrowing the channel. Back in the summer of 2006 I had to change a down River and back paddle from Katie's Landing to an up the Wekiva and back. No such issues this afternoon.
Although, from where the great blue is standing, you can see how excessive plants can pose a problem.
I saw the three sandhill cranes first, then three turkeys. On the same lawn.
Nice way to end the paddle, Katie's Landing is just up stream.
I also posted a trip report on the Green Wave Forum. http://www.clubkayak.com/greenwave/treports.asp?trip=565