Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Econlockhatchee River

This is the week I'll be working a Saturday morning.  So, I worked a half day today, Tuesday, February 8, 2011 and got to kayak on a weekday afternoon.  Moderate chop on the Gulf, choppy on the Atlantic.  So coastal paddling was out.  Just went to Wekiwa Springs, Sunday.  I narrowed it down to the Wekiva at Katie's Landing or the Econ.  I got to the turn towards the Econ and took it.  Glad I did.  I had not paddled the Econlockhatchee River since September 14.  One reason I chose it over the Wekiva was the opportunity to see a bald eagle. Or two or three.  And perhaps a large alligator or two on a sunny, but cool, afternoon.
Launched from Snow Hill Road at 2: 00 and began paddling up River.

Turtles sunning, perhaps alligators would be too.
The gator on the left is not small.  The other is up there with the biggest I have even seen.

All I could do was drop my jaw, exclaim, "Holy crap!" and keep paddling.  Good to see the big tail moving away from me as the giant one slid into the River.
 There were flocks of robins flying about.
Approaching the Flagler Trail bridge.

Fifty minutes up stream from Snow Hill.   Ten minutes later, an eagle.

Six minutes later, a belted kingfisher.
Five more minutes, I'm pretty sure this is the same bald eagle.

 I know the one below is the same as the one above.  Watched it fly from perch to perch.

Some non-eagle photos.

Saw only two people on the up River paddle, Two guys fishing from the bank.  My plan was to paddle for two hours, turn around at a spot where people camp, and a dead end offers wildlife, including an eagle nest.
No eagles, just a female anhinga. Did not see a nest.  Perhaps my memory isn't so good.

Began the return paddle at 5 after 4.

With its wooded, high banks, the Econ is different from most other Central Florida rivers, which tend to have low, or no, banks.
Saw the anglers again, who were glad to see me.  I freed a lure that had caught a branch in the water.  "Didn't think sticks were in season" 
Came to a turn in the River, dead trees at the wide part of the turn, a short rivulet on the right.  Hold it, this is where the nest is.

I thought I saw a second eagle, on the nest, when I was at a distance.  Gone by the time I started snapping pictures.

I turned my attention to another flock of robins. This may sound crazy, but for me, robins are rarer than bald eagles. Except for this winter. I've been seeing more, a lot more of the red breasted songbirds than ever. Maybe the record cold in December and January drove them further south than in previous years. I turned back to the nest, now both eagles were gone.


Red shouldered hawks.

Contining down the Econ.

I wonder if this eagle was in the nest last year.

I've seen a single bald eagle on this tree a couple of times.

 More robins.

Saw six more people, two bikers, a couple walking a dog, and father and son in a canoe.  That made eight for the afternoon.

I don't think I've ever seen an otter on, or in, the Econ.  Until today.  Aiming the camera for the final photo of the day, the Snow Hill Road Bridge.  What's that branch bobbing up and down.  I should have taken the picture. Not a branch, an otter.  I drifted, hoping it would pop up again.  It did, but I failed to get a photo.  Here's the final photo, ending the paddle at 5:55 PM.


The Florida Blogger said...

This part of the Econ is by far my favorite part of the Econ. It seems other stateish.

Dark Knight said...

Looks like I found where to go this weekend. Mrs. Knight saw your eagles' pics and is looking forward to paddle the Econ again. Besides it will take me 5 minutes to be there from my house. Not sure if we will do the long version(419 to Snow Hill Road) or the short version (from and back to Snow Hill Bridge).

Thanks for sharing Master Dave.