I woke up this morning, looked out the window and decided to put the kayak in the Banana River for a paddle. Weather conditions were overcast with a light breeze, perfect for a speed paddle across the river and back. I was almost all the way across when I noticed a large flock of birds overhead flying north. I couldn’t identify them but ruled out geese or duck since I didn’t hear any honking or quacking. They were flying in sloppy V formations but what made them really stand out was their sheer numbers. This flock took well over a minute to pass by and I’m guessing it was about 1/2 mile from start to end. Before my paddle was finished I saw 3 other flocks of similar size, all heading in the same direction. While I was watching one of these flocks I also caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. 3 dolphins had snuck up on me and were just cruising past looking for their breakfast. One of these days I’ll figure out how to signal a dolphin to turn around and inspect my kayak. All in all, a pretty good way to start the day
My time in Florida grows short and Monday was a beautiful day for a paddle. I dragged my kayak the 100 yds to the river and the water was like glass. I jumped in and quickly paddled across the Banana River to Merritt Island. Along the way I tried chasing a dolphin and numerous stingrays. Those critters are very fast and sneaky. It’s like they were born in the water I also spotted quite a few mating horseshoe crabs while floating through the shallows. The finale for this paddle was spotting a huge white swan, not my normal bird sighting in Florida. I was able to get quite close to it to be sure of the identification. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera on this paddle. However, I’m including some representative pics of everything except the dolphin. On the paddle back to the famcamp, the wind picked up, naturally. Wave heights looked like 8-12 inches, maybe some a little higher. It’s a very good thing I had my spray skirt on or it could have been a wet and cold return paddle.
Got to paddle a 9 mile stretch of the Peace River between Brownville Park and Arcadia with new friends from Ontario, snowbirding here in Lake Placid. The water was cold, as found out by one couple who fell out of their canoe on some shoals, but the weather was great. It was a good omen that we spotted a bald eagle just as we started the paddle.
Paddled Arbuckle Creek solo today. Put in at Istokpoga Park off US 98. Found the mouth of the creek without too much trouble. Started paddling upstream and found a private park with wild turkeys running around in it. Paddled past a fish/rv/horse camp and spotted a long-tailed monkey. Found out from fisherman further up the creek that it’s a family pet named Sam. On the way back, spotted llamas at this same property. A lot of the creek had open pasture on either side but some sections were bordered by cypress, pines, and live oak. Just past the railroad trestle, there were actual shoals. I had to portage around to get further upstream. Ran into more cows on the banks. Even though I gave them a wide berth they spooked easy and ran off. Turned around and was able to paddle through the shoals, only hung up a little on one shelf. Inventory of wildlife seen: black vultures, osprey, hawks, great and little blue herons, ibis, cattle and great white egrets, turkeys, sand hill cranes, belted kingfisher, gators, cows, horses, long tailed monkey and llamas. Total time on the water was about 6 hrs.
Well, I finally decided to go paddle today. The target body of water was Josephine Creek. I’d driven over it several times but couldn’t find much information on it. After talking to some locals, I drove to Henderson’s Fish Camp and paddled across Lake Istokpoga to the mouth of the creek. On the way there, I snapped the pictures of the little blue heron and the white water lily. The first significant feature in the creek was a fallen pine tree that was almost totally overgrown with wild grasses and vines. I spotted one gator on a shady bank that stayed still long enough for a picture. The other gators in the creek were fairly shy and dove before I got into camera range. The paddle was very short due to a deadfall across the creek and what appeared to be wire fencing across the creek just beyond that, no doubt an attempt by the major local landowner to restrict access illegally. The strangest event I’ve had while paddling anywhere occurred on the return trip. I had to yield to 4 cows wading in the creek. I’ve read too many westerns to think they’re absolutely tame creatures so I waited for them to move on.