Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers – September 17, 2016

Another trip on the Ichetucknee River today for Florida Trail.  This time we put in at the north launch in the state park and took out at Lemmons Park (US 129) on the Santa Fe River – about 10 miles.   We saw lots of birds today but no otters.  Only a few other kayakers/SUPers on the river but a humongous Boy Scout troop from GA was tubing. We got to practice our slalom moves for about a mile. 🙂

The new steps at the “Last Takeout” are horrible for kayakers and tubers alike because the rocks and deck are getting very slippery and water is now deeper – seems with the redesign of the take-out the current is now scouring away the sand in front of the steps.  Water is too deep for a lot of people to exit into the water (thigh-deep on me) and the first step is too shallow to exit as you would at a dock – and a lot of people don’t know how to exit at a dock.  Our group all managed to get out there without mishap (our lunch break) but we had to help 2 other people get out of their rental kayaks.  However, the butterflies like it, they were out in force puddling on the new steps.

Update:  After a series of several email exchanges with the state park voicing my safety concerns I got a response.  1. They are putting down a better non-skid surface on the steps that should be done by the end of the month.  (Good news!)  2. They will be adding several hand rails down the steps so people can pull themselves up and steady themselves.  (Good news for tubers, bad news for boats since it adds obstructions to be negotiated.)  3)  A boat launch of some kind is planned for the future.  They couldn’t tell me when, just that it was “a priority”.  So if you hear or see anything, let me know.  And until the boat launch is put in we may paddle there ourselves, but we will not be leading any trips on the Ich.  As deep as the water is getting, there’s just too much chance of people getting hurt there which means too much personal liability for us as volunteers.

Under or around? Which ever floats your boat.

Under or around? Which ever floats your boat.

American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus). Saw quite a few of them today as well as several Great Egrets, a Great Blue Heron, at least 4 Red-shouldered Hawks, several Pileated Woodpeckers a roost of Black Vultures, and a couple of Belted Kingfishers.

American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus). Saw quite a few of them today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Egret (Egretta alba)

Great Egret (Egretta alba)

Mullet in Devils Eye Spring. The mullet are perhaps 6-8 inches underwater and water here is about 4 feet deep. Almost like looking through glass.

Mullet in Devils Eye Spring. The mullet are perhaps 6-8 inches underwater and water here is about 4 feet deep. Almost like looking through glass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly puddling on the Last Takeout steps. We also saw Black Swallowtail, Sulphur, and Brown Skipper there. The Sulphurs were all over the run since they seem to be attracted to the Cardinal Flower blooms.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) Butterfly puddling on the Last Takeout steps. We also saw ulphur, and Brown Skipper there. The Sulphurs were all over the run since they seem to be attracted to the Cardinal Flower blooms.

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) puddling on the Last Takeout steps

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) puddling on the South Takeout steps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all made it through the RR tunnel upright !

We all made it through the RR tunnel upright !

Still crystal clear water, even 5 miles from the spring.

Still crystal clear water, even 5 miles from the spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Santa Fe is darker with more tannin, a lot wider and has heavy boat traffic on the weekend.

The Santa Fe is darker with more tannin, a lot wider and has heavy boat traffic on the weekend.

An immature Double-crested Cormorant

An immature Double-crested Cormorant.