Silver River – December 10, 2016

Back to the Silver River today with a different group of paddlers.  It was 41 degrees with a brisk breeze when I left my house – a bit chilly.  About half of the group that had signed up for the trip woke up on Saturday morning, took a look at the thermometer, and canceled.  So it was a small group of only 5 of us that paddled today.  Although the skies cleared to a bright blue and the temps warmed to around 65, the brisk wind kept up until lunch time so it was still chilly at the start, but after lunch the wind dropped and we were in shirt sleeves.  The great thing about Florida is that you can paddle year round.  It may be cold, but never frigid, and usually when cold the water temp is still warmer than the air temp. But you have to dress properly in layers to stay warm and safe.

Heading out to the head spring, all bundled up.

Heading out to the head spring, all bundled up.

 

This trip was set up as an out-and-back so participants could rent kayaks there in the state park.  (The state park concessionaire does not provide shuttles and does not allow their boats to be shuttled.)  So the plan was to put in at the state park launch, paddle the main stream down to around the half-way point at the state park dock, then return via the Ft King Paddling Trail.

We had heard that due to the chill a manatee had been sighted on the Silver, and we looked high and low for it all day  But it must have moved back out into the Ocklawaha because neither our group nor any other on the river today caught sight of one.

We saw the usual herons, Anhingas and Cormorants and in the afternoon the turtles came out to bask on their logs.

Close up of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

This Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) allowed me to get closer than they normally do.

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) on a mat of floating vegetation

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) drying out his wings

A beautiful Florida Cooter (Pseudemys floridana)

A beautiful Florida Cooter (Pseudemys floridana) basking with others on a log

Our big treats of the day included a Southern Bald Eagle that posed for us against the bright blue sky.

Southern Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus) posing

Southern Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus) posing

And a troop of monkeys (Rhesus macaque) marching east along the river.

A little monkey peeking at us from the trees

A little monkey peeking at us from the trees

An adult monkey warming in the afternoon sun.

An adult monkey warming in the afternoon sun.

Near the end, along the Ft King Paddling Trail, we experienced some of the last of the fall foliage here in north Florida.  Along the route you can see the remains of some of buildings built by the private attraction for their jungle cruise trips.  There are facades of historic Ft. King (The Fort King National Historic Landmark is located a few miles to the SE), a river trading post, an sunken boat on which the turtles love to bask, and some little cabins and store rooms.

Paddling by "Ft King" in the state park.

Paddling by “Ft King” in the state park.

 

A bit of fall foliage on the Ft King Canoe Trail

A bit of fall foliage remaining on the Ft King Paddling Trail