Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Haulover Canal and more

After ten hours on the Hillsborough River Saturday, I needed something relatively easy, but scenic, Sunday, August 22, 2010. With five dolphins in the above photo, a Yak Tales record, Haulover Canal filled the bill.

After catching up on sleep, I was in the Indian River at 10:30, paddling out to Mullet Head Island. A dolphin surfaced close to the yak as I neared the bird sanctuary.

My circuit of Mullet Head was short circuited about 3/4 of the way around when I spotted two dolphins. I set course towards them for a better look. I third appeared, I increased my speed, setting an intercept course. A thought popped into my head, this was supposed to be an easy day, and here I am, paddling hard. Another thought, manatee! Right in front of me. No time to turn, fortunately, its reflexes were quicker than mine. Two flicks of the fluke, and it was gone. And I was soaked in its wake. Some water in the yak, that's why a carry a towel, to soak it up. Which I did over the next half hour or so. Between paddle strokes. Meanwhile, the dolphins were still out in the water. I got close enough for a few photos.

Click the photos to blow them up for a better view of the dolphins. Back to Mullet Head, hoping to see some rosette spoonbills. I've seen them my last several visits. Not today. Maybe they were all at the Banana River, where I saw almost two dozen last Saturday. Circuit complete, I took off, back towards Haulover Canal.

Paddled across the mouth of the Canal, towards the alternate entrance. A Manatee Zone sign cautions boaters to maintain slow speed, no wake, near shore. It is in the right spot. Two manatees in the shadow of the sign.
I paddled past the alternate entrance to the Canal, to a dead end canal. One of my "secret" manatee spots. So secret, even the manatees did not know about it today.

That's a juvenile yellow crowned night heron, above. A trio of tri colored herons roosted on a tiny mangrove island at the entrance of the dead end canal.

To the alternate entrance. This natural channel, to the south of the man made Haulover Canal, allows me to avoid the traffic in the Canal, at least for a short time. I never know what I might see.

First spoonbill I've seen here, and I've been kayaking the Haulover Canal area since April, 2005. Better to see it here than on Mullet Head Island, where close approach is not allowed. Snowy egret ponders its next move.
I moved into the cove where the channel meets the Canal, aka, "Dolphin Cove". None present, guess they were all out in the Indian River. To Bairs Cove, where I saw one manatee. And several powerboats in line for the one lane ramp, so I left. Under the bridge spanning the Canal to the Manatee Overlook. None there, but two out in the canal. Where I also was able to get a photo of an elusive belted kingfisher.
"Elusive belted kingfisher" is being redundant, they don't stay still for long. I moved towards the Mosquito Lagoon, via the scenic route, outside of the Canal on the north side, then back in. A quick view of the launch towers to the south.
I came back into the Canal, wind at my back. The day started out calm, now the sea breeze was picking up.

Saw another manatee in the Canal, which was not crowded at all for a Sunday. The crowed place was Bairs Cove, where once again, boaters were waiting to land. Beat the afternoon heat and storms. I went into Dolphin Cove and the alternate channel, were I got the above two photos. Then back to Bairs Cove, which held, as far as I could see, a single manatee.
I headed back to the launch site, via the alternate channel.

I landed at 1:30, off the water before the impending afternoon thunderstorms.

As you may have surmised from the title, my day was not done. The "and more" began on Black Point Wildlife Drive. A few sprinkles on the way. Very few cars on the 7 mile winding road through the salt marshes, water impoundments, and hammocks of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I was thinking of biking the Cruickshank Trail. I first stopped at the Wild Bird Trail, a 1/4 trail on a dike with two blinds of bird viewing. Just one bird, great egret in camera range, but plenty of big banana spiders.

On to Cruickshank Trail, which I learned, is foot traffic only. So, I just climbed the observation tower.
Best birding on the Drive was this flock of glossy ibis.
I left Wildlife Drive, and Merritt Island. Driving home on US 50, I thought, may as well stop at Wetlands Park. Which was. Wet. As I walked across the grass towards the caracara tree, water spalshed with each step in the grass. There must have been a major downpour. No caracaras. A hawk that flew away. The berm road was very wet, but bikeable.
Not a lot of birds, until I came to came to egret road.

With great blue and tri colored herons, ibis, moorhen and a gator mixed in.

Later, anhinga with snail, fledgling hawk, anhinga, and great blue heron.

My ride was short, 4 miles. Final photo of the day shows what the berm road was like. In many spots I rode on the grass in the middle, as both tracks were underwater.

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