Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rock Springs Run

Kayked Rock Springs Run this morning. Sunday, October 31, 2010. Happy Halloween. I wanted to get deer pics and get home in time to see most of the Packer game.  Home early in the 2nd quarter, mission accomplished

Last night, I thought, I'd get some extra sleep and an early start with the time change. Good thing I checked the weather forecast and saw sunrise was still at 7:40. What? Standard time doesn't return until next Sunday
Launched from Wekiwa Springs State Park at 8:15, past a couple blue herons on the hydrilla containment boom and down a misty Wekiva River to Rock Springs Run.  Saw a otter in the Wekiva, unable to get a picture.    Ibis, limpkins, belted kingfishers, great blue herons. No publishable photos until I was up stream of the Indian Mound campsite.  Which was unoccupied, a solo camper was at Otter Camp.

Two does on the left side of the Run, one significantly larger than the other.

The above pic is where I turned back, just beyond the open area up Run of Big Buck campsite. Heard voices, the first downstream paddlers, I thought.  10:14 on the time stamp, 2 hours on the water.  I never saw the paddlers, and I went slowly down the Run, with a brief stop at Big Buck. Chances are the voices I heard were hikers, or backcamp campers, at Camp Cozy.
I have taken hundreds of ibis pictures, and this could be the first one with the beak wide open.
The two deer will still feeding.

Like Blackwater Creek and the lower part of the Wekiva yesterday, Rock Springs Run is flowing low and clear.

Into the second open area, or first, coming upstream, two more does.  On the other side of the Run.  Too deep in the brush for a photo, and they moved deeper into the thicket.   Four does, where were the bucks? November is mating season.  Ten minutes later, two bucks.

Eight points

Six points

I wonder if these are the two bucks I've been seeing since this summer.  My prediction that they would not be hanging out together in the fall, and mating season, is incorrect. So far.  I'm not sure if I've ever had two bucks in the same photo. Of course, I was hoping they would lock horns.

I saw more deer, six, than boats, five, on Rock Springs Run. About the same number of canoes and kayaks on the Wekiva River.  Saw an otter, again, but no photo.

I landed at 12:30.  Carted the yak up the hill to the car.  Three turkeys filed by as I tied it to the roof.
I had a nice snorkel in the almost empty, for a Sunday, Spring.

A fine kayaking weekend on what I think is the finest river system in Florida, the Wekiva and its tributaries, Blackwater Creek and Rock Springs Run. Saw otters, alligators, bucks and a manatee this weekend. Maybe a bear. And the kayak is still on the roof.  Scheduled myself off Monday afternoon.  For the Space Shuttle launch.  Which has been canceled.  Unsure of plan B. You'll find out tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wekiva River & Blackwater Creek

I had to work a couple hours today, Saturday, October 30, 2010.  Overtime, so, a little extra money in my pocket.  Done at 11, I thought, with the last day of daylight savings, I could get a decent paddle in even if I traveled a bit from home, to maybe, the Hillsborough or Chassahowitzka.  I decided to stay close to home and kayak the Wekiva River from Katies Landing to Blackwater Creek, up Blackwater a bit, and back.  Good decision.

I launched from Katies Landing in the Lower Wekiva River State Preserve at 10 past 12.  Just one car in the parking lot.  Another came in, canoe and kayak, as I prepared to launch.  Into the clear Wekiva.  Clear, because most of the flow is coming form springs, not rain and runoff.  It rained at my house Thursday night, first time this month.  The "official" total at the airport is 0.00 for October.  My boss lives near Katies Landing, and said  she had no rain Thursday.

Lots of great blue herons.       And alligators.

After leaving Katies, just 3 boats on the way down River to Blackwater Creek.  Two kayaks, and a motor boat, proceeding slowly.

The gators were lethargic, not moving off the bank.  So were the belted kingfishers, relatively speaking.  One stopped long enough that I got three pics. On three different perches. Here are the best two.

Temps felt like mid '80's partly cloudy, paddling into a decent breeze.  Hoped to have it at my back on the way back.

Arrived at Blackwater Creek, opening photo, at 1:40, 90 minutes after I began.

 Paddled past the high spot where I take Blackwater breaks.
But not to far.  Five minutes, and one huge alligator later, I faced the above situation.   Layed low, face up tried pulling myself under, yak began to tilt, pushed back, tried to get lower, tree knocked my hat off, went back to retrieve it, approached the tree again, decided the risk wasn't worth the reward and turned back.  Had I needed to go under, I could have, but I had already been out two hours, so it was a good time to turn back.   Stopped at the high spot for a break.
I got out of the yak a second time.  Passing a stream flowing into the Creek, I looked up it.  Never know what you may see.  Wait! is that a bear?  Reversed course, thought I saw one. Landed, and walked through the woods.  Still thought I saw it, but when I got closer, I saw  what I was looking at was just a dark log. Now I'm not sure if I saw a bear.  If I did, it immediately ran off after I first saw it and drifted past the stream.  It was about 70 yards away, and I was noisy back paddling, so I may not have heard it run away.  I'd say 50-50 I saw a bear.  Also alligators, ibis, limpkins, great blue heron, hawk and belted kingfishers.  No photos.  I had a very good view of not one, but two alligators swimming underwater in "Clearwater Creek"  As with the Wekiva, freshwater springs are supplying most of the flow these days.
Back on the Wekiva, paddling up River.

As I was taking turkey photos, I heard voices behind me.  So, I paddled quickly to stay ahead of them.  I'd rather be the one disturbing the wildlife.

The trailing paddlers were persistent, and chatty.  I pulled over and let them pass me, waiting for them to get out of sight.  I picked up the paddle, now a motor boat slowly coming up River.  Finally, peace and quiet.

And, what's this? A manatee under my kayak! Headed up River.  I turned around, drifted , the manatee checked me out.

For those of you familiar with the Wekiva, the manatee was a few minutes down River of the flat, grassy area where boaters land. The down river one, not the one just Wekiva Haven. Speaking of boats, saw another three, all slowed to pass me.

Don't know what this guy has on his lawn, but the turkeys and sand hill cranes seem to like it.  They were here the last time I was.

Saw two kayakers as I approached Katies Landing.  They were gone by the time I landed, after taking a detour, exploring the shallows on the west side of the River.

 Bird life, seen, but not photoed, includes, osprey, hawk, moorhen's, vultures, woodpeckers. 
I landed at 5:40, 5 and a half hours on the Wekiva River and Blackwater Creek.