Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hontoon Island Loop

I did the St. Johns River, Hontoon Dead River, Snake Creek version of the Hontoon Loop today, Sunday, February 13, 2011.  I last did the Loop in September, but via the northernmost canal instead of Snake Creek. I've been to Blue Springs State Park twice since then, but with friends and family, so did not no the lengthy Loop.
A bald eagle perched across from the launch as I prepared to shove off. It flew away before I got in the water. So, I won't count it. Unless, I need it for a tie-breaker. I photoed 17 different animals that I can identify, yesterday on the Wekiva River and Blackwater Creek. I think that is the record since I began counting in January, 2011. Into the St. Johns River at 10:25. Paddled to the mouth of Blue Springs Run. No entry this time of year as cormorants stood sentinel at the sanctuary.

Cormorants 1

Manatees leaving Blue Spring Run 2

One accompanied me down the St. Johns.

Don't know if it turned into the area behind the island across from the French Ave. launch.   I did.
Tri colored heron 3

Ibis 4. Bonus vulture 5.

Anhinga 6
Turtles 7

Great blue heron 8

 Wood stork 9

Blue heron 10.

Lots of wildlife in the area behind the island.  Saw a couple more manatees, Three alligators.  Heard, more than saw the first two gators as they hurriedly left the bank.  This one stayed put.
Alligator 11
Back to the main body of the St. Johns. Almost used this for the opening photo.  Cormorant, ibis, great blue heron on the same tree.

Another sunny, but cool, jacket required, day.

 Not many boats on the St. Johns. Less then 10, closer to 5. This time of year the St. Johns from Blue Spring State Park to Hontoon Island State Park is a Slow Speed, Minimum Wake, Zone.

Coots 12
One paddler.  A kayaker, paddling hard and fast.  Me? I'd rather enjoy the ride.

Only 3 boats docked at Hontoon Island State Park.  My favorite is above.   I passed the Park at noon, making the turn around the northern tip of Hontoon Island, entering the Hontoon Dead River.

 Pied billed grebe 13.
 Great egret 14.

There were a lot of people fishing on the HDR.  One criminal broke the Slow Speed restriction.  Year round, on the entire Hontoon Dead River. To bad the Florida Department of Law Enforcement boat came by after he stopped to fish.
Red shouldered hawk 15

 My old break spot.  Can't land here anymore.

Just one paddler, the same racing kayaker. I entered Snake Creek about 1 o'clock.

 Shell mound.
There is some nice high ground along the first quarter mile or so of Snake Creek.  I took a lunch break.

Eastern phoebe 16

Black crowned night heron 17.   Tying the record set yesterday on the Wekiva.  I've only been doing these critter counts since this January, I'm sure there are Tales with at least 20 different animal in the archives.

 Otter 18.  Nice animal to set the record.  I saw a big one earlier, on the bank, just as I entered Snake Creek. This was one of two.
One paddler on the Creek. Coming from the St. Johns end, so I knew it was clear.  Another hard charger, this one in a canoe.  I saw him again, as he turned around and passed me.
 Too bad I wasn't on the Hontoon.  "Moon over Hontoon" has a nice ring to it.
Returning to the St. Johns, 2:50 PM.

Did not see any manatees from Snake Creek to the main channel of the St Johns, an area where I often see them.

 March 1, barring a cold snap, the board covering, "Motorized" will be removed.

 Gator in the Run.
Thursby house.
Other than the gator, not much activity at the mouth of Blue Spring Run. Saw only two manatees, headed out to the St. Johns.  I decided to paddle over to the island.

Catch of the day.

After the pic of the great blue heron in a tree, I turned the camera to a blue heron in the river vegetation.
The blue heron lost its perch when the manatee submerged.   More pics from the waters about the island.

I headed back to the launch, looking for eagles in the tall trees across the River.  None.  I landed just after 4:00.  Pulled the yak on shore, took the cart out of the hold, turned around.  I did not hear Neil Armstrong.

The eagle had landed. Nice bookends to the day's paddling.  But, the day was not done.  I almost left the bike in the  car, but not haven ridden in three weeks, I had to.

Didn't go far, not even to Lake Beresford Park.  I had to stop twice to fill up low tires.  Only wildlife was a vulture.  Back to the car at 5:30.  Time for a quick walk to Blue Spring.
This tri colored heron at the old launch area is almost the picture of the day.

Blue Spring

The boardwalk.

View from the boardwalk.

Last photo of the day. Taken from the fishing/tour boat dock.
Not a bad day. 18 different animals photographed while paddling.  Plus a bald eagle just before and after.


Octohawk said...

Where do you put in to do the loop? I've been wanting to kayak that loop before, just need to know more about it. Seems like anyone I ask tells me something different.

Dave said...

I put in at Blue Springs State Park. You can also put in at the end of French Ave., which I used to do until I got an Annual Pass a few years ago. No fee at French Ave. I'd rather drive on the paved Park road than the dirt French Ave. Indoor plumbing is nice to have, too.