Silver River – August 31, 2016

Well, we had a paddle planned for Juniper Creek today, but again needed to go to Plan B . Juniper was shut down Wednesday morning when we arrived (again) apparently in anticipation of bad conditions on Thursday night when we are expecting a tropical storm. Yeah, it didn’t make much sense to us either. I can understand shutting down the rentals if you expect bad weather, since most renters at Juniper have little idea of what they are getting into or how to handle a boat, but to close down the entire run due to weather conditions you are expecting in another 36-48 hours?  Safety is one thing, but I think this borders on the extreme.

So, our Plan B was a leisurely paddle on the Silver River.  We put in at Silver Springs State Park and paddled down the river to south of Raccoon Island, then came back up via the canoe trail. Since rain was predicted (rain is rarely NOT predicted in Florida during the summer), other than one small private eco-tour group and one state park glass-bottom boat tour, we had the river practically to ourselves. It was a wonderful 3.5-hour paddle with lots of birds, turtles and gators and we never got any rain.  We finished it off with a late lunch at the sandwich shop in the park.

We had one interesting moment when a very large gator approached us on the Ft King Canoe Trail as we were headed back to the launch.  We always try to give gators their space – about 30 feet or so plus always leave them an escape route to the water.  Unlike the main river which is quite broad, the canoe trail is very narrow, and this gator was not giving us OUR space.  A biologist friend said it was displaying territorial behavior and was on a patrol of his borders. Whatever the reason, he was way too close and the only thing we could do was freeze in the water.  We have included one still of him below, plus there is a video showing how close he got to one of us on our Video page, which you can access HERE.

A beautifully marked Yellow-bellied Slider (Treachemys scripta scripta)

A beautifully marked Yellow-bellied Slider (Treachemys scripta scripta)

A beautifully spotted Florida Gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus). We found a pool just full of little ones from about 6 inches to 18 inches long.

A lovely spotted Florida Gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus).  We found a pool just full of little ones from about 6 inches to 18 inches long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another gar, probably a Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus)

Another gar, probably a Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus)

A little sunfish in one of the springs. I think this is a Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)

A little sunfish in one of the springs. I think this is a Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult and immature Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)

Adult and immature Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)

Stately Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) who let me get closer than most.

Stately Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) who let me get closer than most.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) resting.

American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) resting.

A young Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) getting ready to strike.

A young Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) posed to strike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Female Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) taking a snooze.

Female Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) taking a snooze.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens) stalking on a bed of vegetation. We think we got close enough toruffled his feathers.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens) stalking on a bed of vegetation. We think we got close enough to ruffle his feathers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pretty little gator out sunning. About 3 feet long, you can still see his yellow baby strips.

A pretty little gator out sunning. About 3 feet long, you can still see his yellow baby strips.

This poor little gator has lost an eye. About 4 feet long, the other eye is just fine and he seems to be getting along okay.

This poor little gator has lost an eye. About 4 feet long, the other eye is just fine and he seems to be getting along okay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This little lady on the eco-tour was not sure she wanted to be so close to our big gator of the day - about 10 feet.

This little lady on the eco-tour was not sure she wanted to be so close to our big gator of the day – about 10 feet.

A curious female Anhinga giving us the eye.

A curious female Anhinga giving us the eye.