Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Banana River

I did not think of this until a few minutes ago, but what better place to paddle the day after a visit to the Silver River than the Banana River?  Launched at KARS Park about twenty past nine.  No cars parked on the grass at the launch site.  On the other hand, the waterfront campsites were full.

The bridge from Merritt Island to Cocoa beach is in the right  background. I was paddling south, towards the KARS boat ramp and dock.  I've seen manatees, alligators and dolphins in the boat basin.  And rosette spoonbills on the way.

One spoonbill and a reddish egret.  I could not get very close.  Well, I could have, but I did not want to get out and walk in the shallow water.  If you are thinking, "How can I get one of those campsites?"  There are two ways.  Work for NASA.  Be friends with someone who works for NASA.  Kayak and canoe launching is the only activity the general public can do at (K)ennedy(A)thletic)(R)ecreational(S)ocial Park.

There were 3 or 4 manatees.   The alligator that often is on the north side of the basin wasn't there.  Perhaps because some sort of work is in progress on that side.  Wire and orange plastic fencing.  A boater started his engine to head out, the manatees went under, I left.

The seawall on either side of the channel is, in season, lined with birds.  Summer is beginning in Florida, bird sightings will be down until late September.  I turned left, north, back into the No Motor Zone.

As you can see, the Banana River is very shallow at low tide. The mats of vegetation were a few hundred yards of shore.  Plenty of water across the River at Port Canaveral for cruise ships.
I paddled in the deeper water, figuring that would improve the chance to see manatees and dolphins.  But after talking to an angler, who had walked out a quarter mile or so, I headed back.   He told me he had seen three bald eagles, two adults and a young one.  The adults were encouraging the youngster to fly.   Actually, I did not head back right away, but I got behind a trio of yaking yakers, and so to avoid them, went closer to shore.

 The young eagle must have gotten its wings.  I looked at every "dead tree next to a tall pine"   That was where the eagles were.  I was well past the pvc pipes the angler used at a reference when I saw what may be and eagle.  Or osprey.  I took a picture, it took off.  Eagle. Barely visible. To the left of the white ball- a radar tower. Click on the pic and expand  for a closer look.
I did something today I had not done since my first paddle on the Banana River. Paddled out to an island in the middle of the lagoon. A pretty long way.  Looks longer than the crossing from Haulover Canal to Mullet Head Island, which is one mile.  I'd guess this is at least 1 and a half.   Saw a manatee on the way across.

 The above great blue heron should look to the right for its meal.
Vehicle Assembly Building in the background

 Female hooded mergansers.
Last time I visited this little island, a huge alligator was on it.  Today, I circled it, did not see any gators, so I got out of the yak for a break.  A manatee surface several times as I ate an apple.  I got back in the kayak, paddle out towards where the manatee had been. Did not see it again.  I turned around, to begin paddling back to KARS Park when I saw a dolphin.  And another, and another.  Five all told.

I watched the dolphins for twenty minutes or so. I would have left sooner but every time I would, there were the dolphins again.  The island I visited is on a straight line from this installation.

Went back to the dock area to see what was there.  A manatee.
Back to the launch site.

Landed at 1:50.  Not a bad weekend.  Able to paddle Rock Springs Run after work Friday. Alligators and deer.  Saturday, monkeys and alligators on the Silver River.  Plus a huge school of striped bass in Silver Glen Spring.  Sunday, rosette spoonbill, bald eagle, manatees and dolphins on the Banana River.

1 comment:

A3 said...

Not bad at all, I would say!