Silver River – May 14, 2017

Wonderful trip on the Silver River on a warm but cloudy Sunday.  I was invited by a friend who also brought 2 other friends.  So 4 not-so-young ladies in kayaks enjoying the river and the wildlife.  And that’s what we did, just enjoyed the wildlife.  We paddled 6.1 miles in 5 hours, so you know we spent more time seeing and taking pics than paddling!

The Silver River in all her beauty

The Silver River in all her beauty

I love the colorful (and color-coordinated) pinwheels on these kayaks

I love the colorful (and color-coordinated) pinwheels on these kayaks

The Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and the Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) are nesting on the rookery island near the head spring.  The cloudy sky was doing it’s best to fool with my camera so the shots are not great, but the fluffy cream-colored Anhinga babies are so cute.

Mamma, Pappa and Baby Cormorant in nest

Mamma, Pappa and Baby Cormorant in nest

Four baby Anhinga awaiting approaching parent for dinner

Four baby Anhinga awaiting approaching parent for dinner

We saw many Cooters out sunning on logs.  I can’t tell Cooters apart except usually the Red-bellied (Pseudemys nelsoni).

A Cooter (Pseudemys spp) sunning on a log

A Cooter (Pseudemys spp) sunning on a log

Florida Red-bellied Cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni)

Florida Red-bellied Cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni)

And of course a few gators were out as well.  We passed one big mamma gator on the Ft King Paddling Trail standing guard with a bunch of little gators (probably last year’s hatchlings) in the vegetation behind her.  Plus we saw a few other gators in the 3- to 6-foot range.

Mamma gator standing guard

Mamma gator standing guard (about 8-foot)

Baby gator hiding behind mamma

Baby gator hiding behind mamma (about 15 inches)

A 5-foot gator hiding in the vegetation

A 5-foot gator floating in the stream-side vegetation

The Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) were out in force, many of them swimming in pairs, but I didn’t see any babies on this trip.  I’ll have to go back in a couple of weeks.

Wood duck pair

Wood duck pair

Wood Duck pair

Wood Duck pair

We saw several White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), including one with the deep red beak and legs indicating the breeding season.

White Ibis in breeding integument

White Ibis in breeding integument

And we saw what seemed an unusual number of immature Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea), just starting to transition from their white feathers into the adult blue plumage.

Immature Little Blue Heron and reflection

Immature Little Blue Heron and reflection

Another immature Little Blue Heron with a little more of the slate blue adult coloring in its plumage

Another immature Little Blue Heron with a little more of the slate blue adult coloring in its plumage

Here’s a sampling of the other birds we saw.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

Great Blue Hron (Ardea herodias) beside a spring along the river

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) beside a spring along the river

A Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) along with its favorite (and almost exclusive) food - the Apple Snail

A Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) along with its favorite (and almost exclusive) food – the Apple Snail and some purple flowering Pickeralweed

And of course, you can rarely paddle the Silver on a warm day without seeing the monkeys.  I especially liked watching these two sleepy heads.

The monkey on the left is sleeping.

The monkey on the left is sleeping.

But they are both awake now and watching the kayakers

They woke up to watch the kayakers

But I think they are still a bit sleepy. We must have awakened them from their mid-morning nap.

But I think they are still a bit sleepy. We must have awakened them from their mid-morning nap.

Still trying to catch some Zzzzzs

Or they had both made a late night of it on Saturday and are still trying to catch some Zzzzzs

This one was waiting for a handout at the old state park launch

This guy was waiting for a handout at the old state park launch.  NOT from us!

Last, but not least, we saw a couple of snakes sunning on logs over the river.  One was a non-venomous Brown Water Snake the other was a venomous Cottonmouth (aka Water Moccasin). Both are found in and around water, both are rather thick brown snakes with lighter colored bellies, both are common throughout Florida, both have a rather triangular looking head when flattened out, and both get darker with age, their markings getting harder to distinguish.  Can you tell which one is which?

Brown Water Snake (non-venomous, Nerodia taxispilota)

Brown Water Snake (non-venomous, Nerodia taxispilota). Round pupils, no pit between the nostrils and the eye, blotches are separated across the back, eyes poke up above the top of the head so that when viewed from the top you can see the eyes.

Cottonmouth aka Water Moccasin (venomous, Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti)

Cottonmouth aka Water Moccasin (venomous, Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti). Vertical pupils, a pit between the nostrils and the eye, blotches bands extend from sides across the back, “eye brow” extends over the eye so that when viewed from the top you can not see the eyes, 2 dark vertical stripes on the tip of the nose.