Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Haulover Canal and more

In anticipation of the Final Four, I visited four place today, Saturday, March 31, 2012.  Blackpoint Wildlife Drive, Haulover Canal, Scrub Ridge Trail, and Orlando Wetlands Park.   The best part?   Other than alligators and spoonbills and manatees and white pelicans and dolphins and glossy ibis and....
The other best part is the land based parts of this adventure, Blackpoint Wildlife Drive, Scrub Jay Trail, and Orlando Wetlands Park require only minor detours off the route from my home to Haulover Canal.  Key in these days of overpriced gasoline.
Stop one, Black Point Wildlife Drive in the Merritt Island National Refuge.  I usually do this 7 mile drive  after kayaking Haulover Canal.   I figured early in the day I'd see more birds and less people.  And, as it is one way, save gas as the exit is closer to Haulover Canal.  If I had visited after kayaking, I would have driven an extra couple miles.

Believe it or not, for the first mile or so, all I saw was a pigeon and distant great egret.   I can't recall seeing white pelicans from Blackpoint before.
Blue winged teal and dowitchers.  I think.
Lesser scaup
Dawn comes to the Refuge.
Ibis.  And glossy ibis,
I've mention Joanne in these Tales many times.   She volunteers at Wekiwa Springs State Park, cleans up Rock Springs Run about once every two months.  Just did this week.  Perhaps JoAnne is her twin.
Last Wildlife Drive photo, 8:01, first Haulover Canal, 8:32.   Saw wild hogs on the way.
Into the Indian River. The forecast for a moderate chop was accurate.  Steady south wind, my left as I paddled to Mullet Head Island. 

Plenty of roseate spoonbills. And great blue herons, and pelicans, cormorants, great egrets and more.
I paddle around the island, which, as you know, is a bird sanctuary.  If you did not know that, welcome to Dave's Yak Tales.  I came around to the east side of the island, and there was a kayaked beached and a couple walking on the island.  What  couple of aholes.  But, before I could educate them, I had an emergency.  What's that big brown thi..? Manatee!  Next to me, then under me, in very shallow water, then speeding away,  a wall of water and sand raining down on me as my kayak rocked back and forth.   Whew!  I have not had a ride like that for a long time.  It may have been my most active manatee encounter.   I was glad I had the spray skirt on.
Meanwhile, here are the trespassers.
I shouted, from beyond one the many No Entry signs, that they were in a bird sanctuary, no entry allowed.   They got off the island.
I paddled back towards the launch site and Canal.  As usual, past Haulover Canal into the natural channel.

The channel which empties into "Dolphin Cove"
I had an inward chuckle as the couple that did not see, or ignored the no entry signs, as well as the kiosk at the launch, also failed to see the dolphin.
To Bairs Cove.

Where manatees hang out.
The only manatee that approached the kayak came to the stern. So all I have is this blurry, over the shoulder, shot.
I left Bairs Cove, paddling east in the Canal towards Mosquito Lagoon.
This brown pelican is perched on the drawbridge fender.

At the Manatee Overlook.  If you are ever there, and don't see any manatees, look the left.  See a felled palm and a little cove?  Manatees are usually there. That's where these were.
Mosquito Lagoon
Tri colored heron does the feeding dance.
Return to the Canal, now paddling into the wind.  It was busy, boats on the water, anglers on both banks.
Dolphin in Haulover Canal. Had the one I was watching earlier left "Dolphin Cove"?

Manatee at the Manatee Overlook.
Back to Bairs Cove, and past.  A mob scene there.  When I arrived at the launch site, there was not one, not two, but three vans and trailers from the local rental outfit.  They were in the Cove now.  So I went to "Dolphin Cove" for a private show.
At least one manatee was also there.
Manatee fluke to the left of the dolphin dorsal.  

Tour group passing by.  Most missing the dolphin.  All not seeing the manatees.

The photos are all of the same dolphin.
I landed at 11:40.  A short paddle for a Saturday, but it was windy and wavy and I had places to go and birds to see.
I went to the Scrub Ridge Trail, a mile or so south of Haulover Canal on State Road 3.  No scrub jays, just this red bellied woodpecker.
The area near the Trail was burned recently. Intentionally.   To get rid of fuels and larger trees, restoring the scrub habitat.  New life is sprouting,
'While fire may be need to improve the habitat, in the short run, I think is lessens the chance to see scrub jays.  This is based on my experience on the Yearling Trail in the Ocala National Forest.  At one time, it was a guaranteed scrub jay spot.  But, after a massive fire a few years ago, I went several visits with out seeing a single one of these beautiful blue birds.  Of course, my fire theory could be wrong, especially if Luis 's visit was after the burn.

I was unsure about posting the above link.  Once my readers see the pictures Luis and his wife take, I may never see them again.
No jays, but a nice 1 mile plus, walk.  Next stop, Orlando Wetlands Park.  Off HWY 50 just past Fort Christmas.
This man made wetland is a waste water treatment facility.  That's fancy talk for saying when I flush it ends up here.

The Park has several cells, separated by berms, yet connected by pipes as the water flows from one cell to the next.  The top of the berms is a hiking and biking surface.   I biked.
Braking to let glossy ibis cross the trail.
I came to a mound, and thought, I don't recall this being here, as I climbed to the top.
Zooming on the above view.

 As the mound honors Mr. Oyler, who left his position with the City of Orlando, if not this world, the sign is not clear on that, it is new.  Also verified by the trail map.  The Oyler Overlook is on the map I picked up Saturday, it is not on a map I had at home.

Wish I had a better pic of the above bird for ID purposes.
Wondered what these black bellied whistling ducks (background) and teal would look like in supervivid

One birder was trying to attract a bittern by playing a tape of its song.  Seems like cheating, if you ask me.

I put 5.68 miles on the odometer.
The Seminole Ranch Conservation Area is across the road from Wetlands Park.
A ranch, indeed.  Not a place to explore as a thunderstorm rolled in.
It did rain, capping a perfect day.