Monthly Archives: May 2017

Melrose Bay – May 28, 2017

We tend to stay off the water over Memorial Day weekend because of the preponderance of drunks in motorboats.  But we thought a short paddle on Melrose Bay, an inlet off Lake Santa Fe, might be worth a shot since the whole bay is a “No Wake” zone.  And as we were putting in at the Trout Street launch who should pull up but a Fish & Wildlife Law Enforcement boat!   With the LEOs on the water in our area we had absolutely no problem with the motorboaters in the bay or out along the southern edge of Lake Santa Fe.

It was only a 2 hour paddle, but we slalomed in and out of the magnificent cypress trees and watched some Ospreys nesting.  We headed for Black Lake, but with the drought the canal into the lake was too shallow for us to get into it, so we returned to Melrose Bay.  Sometimes it’s not how far or how fast you paddle, its just enough to get out on the water and let the beauty fill you.

Cypress on Melrose Bay

Cypress on Melrose Bay

Magnificent cypress trees

Magnificent cypress trees

Paddling through the cypress on Lake Santa Fe

Paddling through the cypress on Lake Santa Fe

Cypress on Lake Santa Fe

Slaloming amid the cypress on Lake Santa Fe

Skirting along the edge of Lake Santa Fe

Skirting along the edge of Lake Santa Fe

Cypress on Lake Santa Fe

Cypress on Lake Santa Fe

Near the entrance to Black Lake

Near the entrance to Black Lake

Near the entrance to Black Lake

Near the entrance to Black Lake

 

Osprey nest with a pair of adults

Osprey nest with a pair of adults

Osprey nest with a pair of adults

Osprey nest with a pair of adults

Silver River – May 20, 2017

Today a friend was demoing a boat at Silver Springs, so I joined her for a 2-hour paddle and lunch afterwards.  As usual the Silver was full of wildlife, although today we saw no monkeys or snakes.

We paddled around the nursery tree island and watched the nesting Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga).   I was looking up approaching the island, getting ready to take a picture of a baby Cormorant.  When I looked down I found that I had drifted to within about 6 feet of a fairly large gator.  A little too close for my comfort level, although the gator did not seem disturbed by my presence.  Gators tend to hang out around the island, waiting for baby birds to fall into the water for a quick snack.

Gator-in-waiting

Gator-in-waiting

I managed to get a few shots of the baby birds.  Some are still sitting in the nests while others are out on the limbs, stretching their wings preparatory to their first flight.

Baby Double-crested Cormorant guarded by adults

Baby Double-crested Cormorant guarded by adults

Three little Anhinga, still with their baby fluff, out on a limb exercising their wings

Three little Anhingas, still wearing their baby fluff, out on a limb exercising their wings

We also saw many pairs of Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) swimming along the edges of the stream-side vegetation, but no baby Woodies.

Wood duck pair

Wood duck pair

Female Wood duck

Female Wood duck

Male Wood Duck

Male Wood Duck

The Pickeralweed (Pontederia cordata) is in bloom.  It’s such a beautiful native plant, providing cover and food for all sorts of animals in the river.  It just seems a shame to saddle it with a name like “weed”.

A closeup of Pickeralweed (Pontederia cordata) bloom

A closeup of Pickeralweed bloom

Bumblebee on Pickeralweed

Bumblebee on Pickeralweed

We saw several other gators, mostly smaller than the one at the nursery island.

A little gator (about 18 inches) peeking at us from the weeds.

A little gator (about 18 inches) peeking at us from the weeds.

And, of course, lots of Cooters (Pseudemys  spp) basking in the sun.

A Cooter drying his shell on a log in the sunshine

A female Cooter drying his shell on a log in the sunshine

Last weekend we saw dozens of immature Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea) sporting their white coats.  Today they were missing, but we watched several adult Little Blue Herons stalking for dinner.

An adult Little Blue Heron stalking amid the grasses

An adult Little Blue Heron stalking crustaceans amid the grasses

And we came across one Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) that let us get pretty close.

Usually very wary, this stately Great Blue Heron let us get to within about 20 feet of him.

Usually very wary, this stately Great Blue Heron let us get to within about 20 feet of him.

And we saw a couple of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) also stalking in the weeds.

A Green Heron, with its short legs, sticks near the shoreline

A Green Heron, with its short legs, sticks near the shoreline

We also saw a couple of Limpkin (Aramus guarauna).  Not exactly rare on the Silver, but we usually only see one or maybe two on each trip.  So there are snails on the Silver, but probably not enough snails to support a large number of these birds.

A Limpkin searching for Apple snails

A Limpkin searching for Apple snails

Near the end of our paddle, close to the state park ramp, we saw another bird we usually only encounter down near the confluence with the Ocklawaha – a Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea).  In this case it was a young one, not fully plumed out yet.

A young Yellow-crowned Night Heron

A young Yellow-crowned Night Heron

 

 

 

Santa Fe River – May 17, 2017

Just a short trip on the Santa Fe River this Wednesday.  Partly to check out the water level for a large newbie trip in June and partly just to escape the heat and humidity now in north Florida.  We left a car down at Rum Island county Park and put in at the US 27 boat ramp.

The water level right now is REALLY low although the shoals both above and below Poe Springs are runnable on river right if you pick your line carefully.

Tripping down the Santa Fe at low water

Tripping down the Santa Fe at low water

We swam at Poe Springs to cool off altho we had to walk in rather than paddle in due to exposed rocks. We had the park all to ourselves for the 1/2 hour we were there.

Looking upstream on the Poe Spring run from the Santa Fe

Looking upstream on the Poe Spring run from the Santa Fe

Looking downstream on the Poe Spring run from the top of the spring

Looking downstream on the Poe Spring run from the top of the spring

We walked into Lily Springs, too, because the spring run was too shallow to get our paddles deep enough into the water to get up against the current. The springs are full of algae and it looks really empty without Naked Ed in residence.

Lily Springs sure looks abandoned without Naked Ed in residence.

Lily Springs sure looks abandoned without Naked Ed in residence.

Lily Springs filled with algae. Water level at the top is just barely covering the first spring vent.

Lily Springs filled with algae. Water level at the top is just barely covering the first spring vent.

Jonathan Spring was flowing and pretty, although the rocks at the entrance were all exposed and had been moved apart to allow the run to flow through them.  Rum Island Spring was low, but is still a great swimming hole.