Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Banana River

I had a fantastic paddle this morning, Sunday, August 15, 2010. The Banana River No Motor Zone is a paddlers paradise. No motors to protect a large manatee population, one of which is shown above. Also shown, NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building. Nature and NASA.

The Banana River, as you know from prior Tales, is an arm of the Indian River Lagoon. And so, is not a river, but a lagoon, or estuary. If you did not know that, welcome to Dave's Yak Tales. There is one place to launch on the west side of the Banana River. I arrived KARS Park, paid the $5.00 fee, signed a form, and drove to the launch site. Not many people camping. It would be a great spot in cool weather, sites right on the water. Of course, I'd have to go with a Space Center employee. KARS is Kennedy Athletic Recreation and Social Park. Kayak launching is the only activity allowed for non-employees. Great egrets and rosette spoonbills fed in the shallow water as I drove to the launch site. Which is a gap in the mangroves with a sign for parking on the grass. I parked, got the yak off the car, and paddled south towards the birds.

And the cruise ships across the River at Port Canaveral.

Someone once told me what these black and white birds are. I forgot. Must have got an email, as I don't see the answer in the comments section of my 2 prior Banana River Tales.

I would have paddled the way I did even if I had not seen the spoonbills on the way in. The channel to the boat basin and dock area is prime spot of birds to perch and catch unwary fish. Schools of bait fish were stirring up the channel. In the basin itself I've seen manatees, dolphin and manatees. An alligator today. If you are wondering, "Why are there docks at a No Motor Zone?" They are on the edge, just outside the NMZ.

I think I would have had more, and better, photos had I not been using an old camera. The good news is, I got a email yesterday that my camera has been fixed and is being shipped back to me. I was hoping it could not be fixed, and I'd get a new one. I'm thinking that still could be a possibility. Hopefully I'll get it back by next weekend.

Out of the boat basin, into the River. North, past the kayak launch. The bird life was amazing for a mid-August day.

Snowy egrets, great egrets, reddish egrets, blue herons, green herons, great blue herons, tri colored herons, cormorants, osprey, and lots of rosette spoonbills.

The River is shallow near the banks, so lots of territory for wading birds. The shallows prevented me from getting to close. Good for the wildlife, not so good for photos. Out in the deeper water, two dolphins swam by. One can be seen above.

A NASA radar array guides other birds.

Six or so other paddlers were on the water. All fishing.

It was getting hot, or should I say hotter. This time of year its always hot. So I slathered more sunscreen on my right arm and right check. Which got the brunt/burnt as I paddled north.

More spoonbills along the shore.

Not to mention egrets and an alligator.

I had been paddling for about two hours. Had it been cooler, I would have stayed out longer, paddled to the NASA Restricted Area. I decieded I'd go as far as the bombing target, then turn back.

It was hours when I circled the cormorant roost and headed back, staying in the deeper water, better to see manatees and dolphins. The wind was at my back, a nice thing on a return paddle.
Launch towers across the River. A flash of white under my kayak. Some wake that fish, hey, that's a scar on a manatee's back. Saw another pair of manatees a bit later. Then, two dolphins, and two more, and more. At least eight.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The poor saps on the cruise ships can't see what us yakers experience.
I paddled past the launch site and into the boat basin to see what I could see.

I think the white streak on the left edge is a jumping fish.

A manatee raised its fluke as I exited the boat basin, that was the only sign of any of the Florida Trifecta. Which I had obtianed earlier. Alligator, dolphin and manatee. From the kayak. With photos.

The rosette spoonbills that I saw at 8:30 were still out at 12:45. Joined by wood storks. Next three pics. Great egret catches a fish. Blue herons and wood stork in flight.

Final pics of the day. Wood stork trio walking along the shore, beaks sweeping for food.

Landed about 1:15, sunburned (I had gooped up my left side for the southbound paddle) and satisfied.


Joanne said...

Looks like a great day!
The birds are Black-necked Stilts.

Dave said...

It was. Thanks for the bird ID.