What an absolutely perfect day for paddling! Blue Bird skies, comfortable temps, crystal clear water conditions, 3 wonderful companions and the Silver River.
We met up at the Silver Springs State Park launch at 10 am and covered about 7 miles as an out-and-back paddle. So, 3.5 miles downstream via the head spring to just past “The Cove”, around the island there and back up via the Ft King Paddling Trail.
No manatee this trip, warm enough for them to have scattered round and about, but we did see monkeys and a couple of really big gators. The monkeys we saw on our way back upstream. Several monkeys was strung out along a fallen tree that stretched across about 3/4 of the river. For a while they just sat there, but something seemed to be up. All of a sudden more and more of the troop ran onto the fallen tree and those on the end started jumping into the river. When they reached the opposite shore they swarmed into the trees and among the cypress knees setting up a horrendous screeching. Then we noticed some monkeys from a different troop were already on that side, a little back from the river and higher in the trees. The two troops were engaged in verbal warfare. One little monkey swam back across the river, frightened by the hubbub and hunched on a stump, while the mamas with babies hunkered down on the fallen tree. It calmed down after about 5 minutes and the rest of the original troop crossed the river. They clearly outnumbered the troop on the opposite shore and seemed to screech louder as well.
You can see a couple of short videos we got of the monkeys swimming on our video page HERE.
Other than that fascinating territorial display we saw lots of signs that breeding season is on the horizon. The Great Egrets are sporting the aigrettes, the Double-crested Cormorants their double hair tufts and the Wood Ducks are paddling about two by two. No nest building yet, but it probably won’t be long before the herons and cormorants start.
Near the end of our trip we paddled up the Ft King Paddling Trail and saw both of the big ol’ gators that hang out there. These guys are huge by Florida standards – each of them around 9-11 feet long and they seem to like the quieter slough to the busy main channel of the river.