Monthly Archives: February 2016

Silver River – February 28, 2016

A nice pre-Leap Day paddle on the Silver River.   Just an out-and-back from the Silver Springs State Park launch.

We figured it was about time for early nesting and we were not disappointed.  The Cormorants were busy with their courtship behavior and nest building – which we discovered was a VERY noisy affair.  One couple building a nest would sit, both of them in the nest, dip their heads over the side to adjust some of the sticks, then extend their necks up together, sometimes parallel, sometimes intertwined, squawking the whole time.  The male would then fly away, returning after a few minutes with a stick, which the female arranged in the nest. Then it would start all over again.

Also saw monkeys, herons, gators, ibis, wood stork, and lots of cooters.

Paddling down the Ft King canoe trail. The trees still look bare, but most are starting to bud out. So spring isn't too far away.

Paddling down the Ft King canoe trail. The trees still look bare, but most are starting to bud out. So spring isn’t too far away.

Nesting pair of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus). Their nesting behavior gives a new definition to "necking".

Nesting pair of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus). Their nesting behavior gives a new definition to “necking”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkeys (actually they are Rhesus macaques, not monkeys) enjoying the sun.

Monkeys (actually Rhesus macaques, not monkeys) enjoying the sun.  NOT leftovers from the Tarzan movies, but brought in purposefully by the old Silver Springs attraction to spice up their jungle cruise trips.  There are several troops licing wild along the Silver and Ocklawaha now.

The little monkeys were having such fun today in the sunshine, chasing each other around in the trees, jumping from tree to tree, climbing up and down and hanging upside down. They would stop for a while to eat some of the new tree buds, rest for a bit, then they would be at it again.

The little monkeys were having such fun today in the sunshine, chasing each other around in the trees, jumping from tree to tree, climbing up and down and hanging upside down. They would stop for a while to eat some of the new tree buds, rest for a bit, then they would be at it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooters (Pseudemys sp.) on the Silver River. Take a look at those front claws!

Cooters (Pseudemys sp.) on the Silver River. Take a look at those front claws!  The long foreclaws indicates this is a male.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens ) wading in the shallow water.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens ) wading in the shallow water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). Only saw one today, but he was willing to pose for us for a few minutes. Such ugly heads on such otherwise beautiful and graceful birds!

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). Only saw one today, but he was willing to pose for us for a few minutes. Such ugly heads on such otherwise beautiful and graceful birds!

Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) resting. They are usually very wary birds, but this one let me take lots of pics from only a few feet away.

Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) resting. They are usually very wary birds, but this one let me take lots of pics from only a few feet away.

Ocklawaha River and Bear Creek – February 20, 2016

Another beautiful day on the Ocklawaha River and Bear Creek.  We again put in at Johnson Field Landing, paddled down the Ocklawaha, up the St Johns to the first creek, then back to the landing via Bear Creek.

We saw a little more wildlife than on the same trip a few days ago and with only 4 days of warmer weather the spring green has really started popping out – especially the Cypress and Bay while the Maple and Sweet Gum retain some of their winter foliage.  A few Late Purple Aster and Swamp Lily can still be found.  Turtles were out sunning and we saw and heard an amazing assortment of birds – White Ibis, Great Egret, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Horned Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron, and loads of little warblers in the stream-side bushes.

Just a hint of spring foliage on the Ocklawaha River

Just a hint of spring foliage on the Ocklawaha River near the St Johns.

Paddling into a flock of White Ibis (Eudocimus albus ). NEVER paddle UNDER a flock of Ibis!

Paddling into a flock of White Ibis (Eudocimus albus ). NEVER paddle UNDER a flock of Ibis!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Egret (Ardea alba) and reflection on Bear Creek

A Great Egret (Ardea alba) and reflection on Bear Creek

A sunning Cooter (Pseudemys spp) and reflection on Bear Creek.

A sunning Cooter (Pseudemys spp) and reflection on Bear Creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus ) - peeking at us.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus ) – peeking at us.

Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus) on Bear Creek.

Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus) on Bear Creek.

 

 

 

Ocklawaha River and Bear Creek – February 17, 2016

The weather has finally warmed up enough that we can shed our fleece jackets on our river trips.  Before you know it we will be swimming again!

A great paddle on the Ocklawaha River south of Palatka.  One of our favorite trips because of the wildlife and easy to since there is no shuttle required.  Park at Johnson Field Landing on SR 19, paddle down the Ocklawaha to the St Johns, head south to the first creek on your right, then paddle upstream on Bear Creek back to the landing.  The total is about 10 miles and since Bear Creek has little current, it’s a pretty east 10 miles unless you get blocked by rafts of vegetation.  That’s one of the reasons we like to make this a late winter/early spring trip.

Late winter foliage combined with new spring growth made the banks very colorful in spots. Winter-bare trees displayed a myriad of bromiliads. A few Swamp Lilies showed their faces and we found one little gator sleeping in the weak morning sun.  Also caught an immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

Colorful winter/spring foliage on the Ocklawaha River

Colorful winter/spring foliage on the Ocklawaha River

A little gator (about 4-foot) sunning on an old cypress stump.

A little gator (about 4-foot) sunning on an old cypress stump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bare winter trees on the Ocklawaha.

Bare winter trees on the Ocklawaha nearing the St Johns.

Bromiliads - Broad Needleleaf (Tillandsia simulata) on the Ocklawaha RIver

Bromiliads – Broad Needleleaf (Tillandsia simulata) on the Ocklawaha River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful scenery along Bear Creek.

Beautiful scenery along Bear Creek.

Immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) on Bear Creek

Immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) on Bear Creek