Silver River – August 12, 2017

Back for my second Silver River paddle for the week, this time a little out-and-back from the Silver Springs State Park hand launch down to the state park metal ramp and back via the Ft King Paddling Trail.  12 participants on this trip.  I originally set up this trip for newbie paddlers so they could rent kayaks from the park, but everyone who showed up had their own boats, so no newbies on this trip.

In my last post I commented on the rocks placed at the foot of the refurbished hand launch ramp.  When we got there this morning the rental boat concessionaire had placed some plastic mats over the rocks, tucking the leading edge of the mats under the geo-textile that covers the ramp surface.  It was NOT working.  Every time they pushed a kayak out the mat went with the boat. The concessionaire was pretty peeved with the whole thing, so I withheld my own comments and just nodded my head in agreement with them.

Silver Springs State Park hand launch

Refurbished Silver Springs State Park hand launch with rocks added at the bottom

The ramp was busy this morning, a tour group of about 8 from Discovery Kayaks, some State Park volunteers, a few independent small groups, and our 12, all trying to get out at the same time.  Since you can only really launch one kayak at a time (Why didn’t they widen the ramp a little while they were refurbishing it?  Another 2 feet in width and 2 could have launched at once.)  But it was friendly competition with everyone helping everyone and eventually we got all the boats out.

Setting off from the ramp

Setting off from the ramp, paddling under the nature trail bridge, making for the head spring

We headed out to the head spring and the water was the clearest I have seen it all year!  The combination of high water, no rain for the past few days, sunshine, and no wind meant the Greek god statues sitting in 30 feet of water looked like you could reach down and touch them.

Greek statues in 30 feet of water in the head spring

Greek statues in 30 feet of water in the head spring

The statues are 3 of an original 12 left behind after the filming of an episode from the "I Spy" TV series.

The statues are 3 of an original 12 left behind after the filming of an episode from the “I Spy” TV series.

After everyone in the group had gotten some pictures of the statues we headed down the river. First stop was the rookery island.  All the Cormorants are gone and most of the Anhinga – I only saw one Anhinga nest with little ones.  Several Little Blue Heron nests were visible with babies and the branches were alive with big babies – both Little Blues and Anhingas – exercising their wings and screaming for momma and pappa to feed them.

Baby Little Blue Herons on nest

Baby Little Blue Herons on nest

Mamma Anhinga fishing for her babies

Mamma Anhinga fishing for her babies

Baby Anhinga waiting for Momma and Pappa to bring breakfast

Baby Anhinga waiting for Momma and Pappa to bring breakfast

With the water so clear we saw lots of Florida gar and sunfish and several of the boat wrecks lying on the bottom were visible.  So we puttered from cove to cove, enjoying the clear water and each others’ company.

Longnose Gar

Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus)

Florida Gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) or Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)

Florida Gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus)

Lots of sunfish in the Silver

Lots of little fish in the Silver

Asian Carp

And big fish as well

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boat wreck - purposefully sunk for a Jerry Lewis movie in 1959

Boat wreck – purposefully sunk for a Jerry Lewis movie in 1959

About 11:30 we reached the state park metal ramp and pulled out there for an early lunch. Several other people did as well, including an extended family with two young children in need of the port-o-let.  Since the ramp was slippery we helped the kids get out and back in, then took off back up the river.

Metal ramp at the 1-2 way point - usually very slippery

Metal ramp at the 1-2 way point – usually very slippery

Going upstream we continued to poke along, taking lots of pictures.  We found a Wood Duck family with 5 little ones as well as lots of herons including a Yellow-crowned Night Heron who struck a peculiar (defensive?) pose when I got maybe a little too close.

Mamma Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) with babies

Mamma Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) with babies

Baby Wood duck peeking at me from the vegetation

Baby Wood duck peeking at me from the vegetation

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

An almost mature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

An almost mature Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) in peculiar pose

Also by the afternoon there were lots of gators and turtles out basking in the sun and we found a Brown Watersnake in a tree bole.

Big gator - 7-8 feet long

Big gator – 7-8 feet long

Baby gator - about 12 inches long

Baby gator – about 12 inches long

Baby gator - about 8 inches long

Baby gator – about 8 inches long

 

Brown Watersnake curled up inside a tree

Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota) curled up inside a tree

Florida Cooters (Pseudemys floridana)

Florida Cooters (Pseudemys floridana)

Florida Cooter (Pseudemys floridana)

Florida Cooter (Pseudemys floridana) sunning himself on a log to get rid of the algae on his shell (long front nails = male)

We returned to the state park hand launch via the Ft King Paddling trail.

Paddling up the Ft King Trail

Paddling up the Ft King Trail