Tag Archives: Ichetucknee

Ichetucknee River – November 16, 2016

Another great day paddling at Ichetucknee Springs State Park.  It was chilly when we headed out for Ft. White but we were stashing our fleece in the cars by the time we arrived at the park.  Since we went in two vehicles with 2 kayaks in each we took advantage of the outfitter’s $5 shuttle offer.  After unloading the boats at the north entrance launch the drivers drove both cars down to the south take out and the outfitter shuttled the two of us back up.  We were thus able to paddle back to our vehicles and head directly from the take out to a local diner for  late lunch.

It was a beautiful, crisp blue sky day.   A perfect day for manatees if the water level had not been so low.  Due to some shoals on the Santa Fe River, the water has to be a bit higher for the manatee to get into the Ichetucknee.  We’ve taken so many pictures of the Ichetucknee that today we thought we would concentrate on some of the little things, like the flowers and insects we see.

The Bur Marigold (Bidens spp) was blooming bright gold and and the Late Purple Aster ((Symphyotrichum patens patens) bushes were humming with bees.

Bur Marigold (Bidens spp)

Bur Marigold (Bidens spp)

Late Purple Aster bush

Late Purple Aster bush with a few Bur Marigold

Late Purple Aster buds

Late Purple Aster buds

Honey bee on Late Purple Aster

Honey bee on Late Purple Aster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further downstream we ran across a large patch of Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata) that the Great Golden Digger Wasps were enjoying.  Water Hemlock occurs throughout Florida and is one of the most poisonous plants on the plant.  The roots, stems, leaves and blooms are all deadly to humans and other mammals.  There is even one report of people dying after eating birds who had ingested the berries.  If you see a patch of white flowers that looks like Queen Anne’s lace growing in the water it’s probably Water Hemlock. The Great Golden Digger Wasps  (Sphex ichneumoneus) is named for the gold hairs on their heads and have orange legs with an orange and black body.  Digger wasps are solitary wasps meaning they don’t build a nest of wood fiber or mud in a colony like social wasps and hornets.  Each female works hard all by herself to build a nest and provide a home and food for her eggs.  She digs a small hole in the ground and deposits her eggs on dead crickets and grasshoppers, then leaves the eggs alone to hatch and grow into adults the next year.   Digger wasps are very important pollinators for gardens and agriculture and in spite of their large size (over an inch long) are not aggressive.  Stings are very rare unless you try to grab one.  So, for both the Water Hemlock and the Great Golden Digger Wasp, look but don’t touch.

Several Great Golden Digger Wasp on Water Hemlock

Several Great Golden Digger Wasp on Water Hemlock

Great Golden Digger Wasp on a Water Hemlock head

Great Golden Digger Wasp on a Water Hemlock head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Golden Digger Wasp on a Water Hemlock

Great Golden Digger Wasp on a Water Hemlock

Closeup of Water Hemlock blossoms

Closeup of Water Hemlock blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we also saw the usual turtles, mostly Suwannee Cooters on logs and we always see a couple of Great Egrets (Ardea alba) along the way.

Great Egret hunting

Great Egret hunting

Blue sky and blue water on the middle Ichetucknee

Blue sky and blue water on the middle Ichetucknee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we got to see a bit of fall color.  The cypress are looking rusty, the oaks going yellow to brown, the sweet gums and maples in various shades of orange.  It’s so dry this year it is not a great fall for color, but there’s a bit of it around.

Fall colors at Devils Eye Spring

Fall colors at Devils Eye Spring

Fall colors at the south take out

Fall colors at the south take out

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.

Ichetucknee River – September 14, 2016

It’s after Labor Day so the north 1/2 of the river is closed again to tubers and we can again add the Ichetucknee (Itch-a-TUCK-nee) to our kayaking list.  New this year the state park is running a shuttle from the south take/out to mid/point for the tubers on the weekends only.  So your best chance of seeing any wildlife is during the week.

Despite overcast skies that scared off a few people, we led a lovely paddle for the Florida Trail Association on the Ich.  We even saw the sun from time to time!  We paddled from the north boat ramp just outside the head spring to the south take-out, the last exit within the state park.  It’s only a little over 3 miles, but is such a lovely paddle we like to do it 3-4 times per year.

Good company, loads of cooters, a few herons, egrets and ibis, crystal clear water, and a couple of playful otters.  Just another day in the paradise that is north Florida.

The upper Ich is fairly narrow and twisting with overhanging oaks.

The upper Ich is fairly narrow and twisting with overhanging oaks.

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) was about the only thing in bloom right now.

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) was about the only thing in bloom right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the middle Ich the river widens a bit and there are more cypress trees mixed with the oaks

On the middle Ich the river widens a bit and there are more cypress trees mixed with the oaks.

Crystal clear water on the middle Ich.

Crystal clear water on the middle Ich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Egret (Ardea alba) amid the cypress on the middle Ich.

Great Egret (Ardea alba) amid the cypress on the middle Ich.

We watched a couple of North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) play on the middle Ich.

We watched a couple of North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) play on the middle Ich.