Monthly Archives: March 2016

Santa Fe River – March 22, 2016

A beautiful day for a paddle on the Santa Fe River – from the River Rise boat ramp at US 27 down to the Santa Fe Park ramp at FL 47 with a lunch stop at Rum Springs.  Clear springs, blue skies, good company, bright green foliage popping out.  Spring has sprung in North Florida!

This is the best springs section of the Santa Fe river and we love to do it in the summer time when we can go swimming in the springs.  But during the spring and fall when the kids are in school, there are far fewer people.

Spring foliage on the upper Santa Fe River

Spring foliage on the upper Santa Fe River

Rum Island Spring

Rum Island Spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

A small side creek loaded with yellow wildflowers.

A small side creek loaded with yellow wildflowers.

These are the yellow wildflowers. I think they are Florida False Sunflower, but I'm not positive.

These are the yellow wildflowers. I think they are Florida False Sunflower, but I’m not positive.  Definitely in the Aster family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gilchrist Blue Spring

Gilchrist Blue Spring

Dogwood Spring

Dogwood Spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ocklawaha River – March 16, 2016

Beautiful paddle yesterday on the Ocklawaha River from the CR 316 West boat ramp to the temporary Orange Springs boat ramp, 13.3 miles as we paddled it.

The day started with lowering clouds, but it burned off before noon and turned into an absolutely gorgeous blue-sky day.  We scheduled this paddle for the end of the draw-down on the river. (For non-Floridians: Every 3-4 years the state opens the dam at Rodman Reservoir and lets the water flow out to kill off the vegetation that would otherwise choke the reservoir.  The water level drops 6-8 feet during this period.)  The water level is back up a foot or two, but still has a month or so to go before it’s back to normal.  Orange Springs temp boat launch is still above water, but not for too much longer. We couldn’t get close to Eureka Lock due to the vegetation choke.  We had lunch and a swim at beautiful Cannon Spring.

Couldn't get to Eureka (defunct lock from aborted Cross Florida Barge Canal) -- too much vegetation choking the canal. But we had fun trying!

Couldn’t get to Eureka (defunct lock from aborted Cross Florida Barge Canal) — too much vegetation choking the canal. But we had fun trying!

Lovely paddle under fluffy white clouds on the Ocklawaha north of CR 316.

Lovely paddle under fluffy white clouds on the Ocklawaha north of CR 316.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) checking out the fishing scene near Orange Springs.

An Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) checking out the fishing scene near Orange Springs.

Pretty little gator (about 18 inches long) Still wearing his yellow stripes.

A pretty little gator (about 18 inches long) Still wearing his yellow stripes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch break at beautiful Cannon Spring. Water level in spring is now about 4 feet

Lunch break at beautiful Cannon Spring. Water level in spring is now about 4 feet

Underwater shot of Cannon Spring

Underwater shot with little fishies of Cannon Spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underwater shot showing vent of Cannon Spring

Underwater shot showing vent of Cannon Spring

Common Blue Violet. Thousands of them are blooming along the bank near Blue Store launch.

Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia). Thousands of them are blooming along the bank near Blue Store launch.

Silver River – March 7, 2016

Another good “bird nesting paddle” on the Silver River on Sunday.  The Cormorants and Anhingas are nesting now.  Some still building, some obviously incubating eggs.  Saw several gators as well as one troop of monkeys with lots of little ones scampering around. Unfortunately the monkeys stayed well back in the trees and my little point-and-shoot camera can’t reach too far.  No spring wildflowers yet but they should be coming soon.

I had to laugh when, while stopped to take monkey pics, a group of kayakers/paddle boarders furiously raced up and asked if I had seen any gators because they had been looking hard and hadn’t seen any.  I told them I had seen a dozen or so in the mile of river we had both just covered.  They just shook their heads and raced on.  Well, folks, you have to both *look* and *see* – you can’t just race by with an occasional glance around.  There’s nothing wrong with racing or exercise paddling, but it’s not conducive to seeing much wildlife. 

Mamma monkey (Rhesus macaque) keeping an eye on the river, protecting her little ones who were playing further back in the trees.

Mamma monkey (Rhesus macaque) keeping an eye on the river, protecting her little ones who were playing further back in the trees.

Not a great pic, but is does show why they are called Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus). The head crests appear only during breeding season.

Not a great pic, but is does show why they are called Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus). The head crests appear only during breeding season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside of the Spatterdock (Nuphar advena) seed pod - a favorite of Wood Ducks.

Inside of the Spatterdock (Nuphar advena) seed pod – a favorite of Wood Ducks.

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) in breeding plumage. During the breeding season the males have obvious blue circle around the eye.

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) in breeding plumage. During the breeding season the males have an obvious blue circle around the eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pretty good shot of the blue eye-ring of a male Anhinga in breeding plumage. They are just starting to nest right now.

A pretty good shot of the blue eye-ring of a male Anhinga in breeding plumage. They are just starting to nest right now.

Nice little alligator (about 4 feet long) keeping an eye on me from the weeds.

Nice little alligator (about 4 feet long) keeping an eye on me from the weeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rather distant shot through the trees of a mamma monkey and her baby.

A rather distant shot through the trees of a mamma monkey and her baby.

A view down the Ft King Canoe Trail which parallels then joins the Silver River after about a mile.

A view down the Ft King Canoe Trail which parallels then joins the Silver River after about a mile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautifully patterned Cooter (Pseudemys spp.). I can't tell the difference among the species of Cooters and it seems scientists keep changing the species designation anyway. So I just enjoy their beauty.

Beautifully patterned Cooter (Pseudemys spp.).  I can’t tell the difference among the different species of Cooters and it seems scientists keep changing the species designation anyway.  So I just enjoy their beauty.

Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) intent on stalking her dinner. Little Blues (who wear white plumage their first year) should start nesting next month.

Immature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) intent on stalking her dinner. Little Blues (who wear white plumage their first year) should start nesting next month.  Many of them reuse Cormorant nests.