Category Archives: Silver

Silver River – June 28, 2017

A wonderful paddle yesterday on the Silver River with two friends. For one them it was the maiden voyage of her new touring kayak, for the other an opportunity to try out her new paddle. Nothing new for me, but I enjoyed the scenery.

We met up at Silver Springs State Park, unloaded the yaks at the launch then drove 2 cars down to Ray Wayside and came back in one of them.  $6 per person for admission and launch fee plus a $5 parking fee for the car we left at Ray Wayside.  We were on the water and headed downstream by about 9:30.

My friend Melanie had purchased a lightly used Eddyline Denali this morning (the one she demoed last week – see the post from 06-23-17) so this was her maiden voyage.  While owning several kayaks in her personal fleet, there was a hole in the touring department that the Denali will fill nicely for our 2- and 3-day trips.  The Denali is made of thermoformed ABS plastic, 15 feet 3 inches long, 24.5 inches wide, has a moderate V-hull, and has a lot of storage space for camping gear.  Melanie’s only worry was being able to get in and out easily, since she is used to a larger cockpit opening.  But she managed without going over at the launch and on the water she seemed to really like the new boat.  And I’m glad since I had recommended the boat to her!  Also as part of the deal Melanie acquired a new all-carbon Werner Kalliste paddle.  Going from fiberglass to carbon taking some getting used to since there is a slightly different feel, but by the end of the paddle she was really enjoying the lower swing weight.

Melanie's new Denali

Melanie’s new Denali and Kalliste at the state park launch

Melanie's new Denali

Melanie’s new Denali, already pimped out with a pinwheel

And as another part of the same deal Melanie purchased a sparkly green Wind Swift paddle for our friend Erin who had been looking for a good paddle.

Erin's new Wind Swift paddle

Erin’s new Wind Swift paddle

While the two of them were playing with their new toys I was looking for wildlife.  Nothing unusual on this paddle, just the normal things seen on the Silver River minus the monkeys who did not put in an appearance on this trip.  But I was able to get a couple of good shots of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea alba) stalking along the river bank.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

And I was able to find several sets of Mamma Wood Ducks (Aix Sponsa) with their little ones.

Mamma Wood Ducks and babies

Mamma Wood Ducks and babies

Mamma Wood Duck and babies

Mamma Wood Duck and babies

Mamma Wood Duck and babies

Mamma Wood Duck and babies

As well as a little gator peeking at me from the weeds.

A little gator peeking at me from the weeds

A little gator – about 4 feet

and a beautiful immature Little Blue Heron, almost into her adult slate-blue plumage.

Immature Little Blue Heron

Immature Little Blue Heron

A colorful display of Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) and Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Pickerelweed and Cardinal Flower display

Pickerelweed and Cardinal Flower display

 

 

A still life with spring and cypress

Spring vent and cypress

Lovely spring vent and cypress about half way down the river

And a couple of pics of us cruising down the beautiful Silver River

Cruising down the Silver

Another shot of the Denali in her native habitat

Enjoying the quiet beauty of the Silver River

Enjoying the quiet beauty of the Silver River

 

 

Silver River – June 23, 2017

If there is anything I like more than getting a new piece of kayaking gear it is helping a friend get new stuff.  A couple of months ago a padding buddy told me he wanted to sell his Eddyline Denali because he had ordered himself a new boat that was due to be delivered in July.  I knew the Denali would be a little high volume for me (and besides I can’t justify having two 15-foot touring kayaks in my personal fleet) but I immediately thought that it would be a great boat for my friend Melanie who enjoys doing kayaking camping as much as I do.  After a couple of other folks had demoed the boat but had not made the owner an offer I finally got Melanie to set up a demo for this morning at Ray Wayside.  We took our boats along to do a little paddle up the Silver after the demo.

We met up with Al at Ray Wayside and got Melanie in the boat.  The cockpit is smaller than she is used to so she had some trepidation about getting in and out, but after paddling it around the lagoon and up and back on the canal I could tell she liked the boat / the fit, how well it tracked and turned, the day hatch and storage space, using the skeg, etc.

Melanie trying out the Denali at Ray Wayside

Melanie trying out the Denali at Ray Wayside

All smiles as she returns to the landing.  I think she likes it!

All smiles as she returns to the landing. I think she likes it!

She came back from the paddle and they started wheeling and dealing on the price.  Al also had two paddles he wanted to get rid of, a Werner Kalliste and a Wind Swift.  While they dickered I unloaded our boats and got them ready for our paddle.  By the time I returned it was settled – the boat and 2 paddles, the Kalliste for Melanie and the Wind Swift for another member of the 5-Star Yak Pak who was looking for a good paddle.  Melanie gave Al a deposit and we’ll pick all of them up next week and take the Denali on her maiden voyage.

We loaded up our kayaks and started upstream on the Silver.  We only paddled a couple of miles, took a dip in the cool water in the cove while talking to a couple of guys in a pontoon boat anchored there, and then we coasted back down.  Not much bird life in the middle of the day but I got some flower pics in red, white and (almost) blue for the upcoming holiday.   And Melanie took a picture of me with my Dulcinea pimped out with a new pinwheel, also in red, white and blue.

RED - Swamp Scarlet Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

RED – Swamp Scarlet Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

String Lily - also called Swamp Lily (Crinum americanum)

WHITE – String Lily – also called Swamp Lily (Crinum americanum)

Closeup of Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

BLUE (ALMOST) – Closeup of Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

My Dulcinea pimped out for the upcoming holiday

My “Dulcinea” pimped out for the upcoming holiday

Little gator in the weeds

Little gator in the weeds

Wood Duck pair (Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck pair (Aix sponsa)

 

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