Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Silver River Never Disappoints

Wednesday March 23, 2016                                             Most Recent Posts:
Silver Springs State Park                                                   
Silver Springs River Trails
Silver Springs, Florida                                                        Spring Equinox – Celebrate the Springs

 

 

David has to go have a treatment today but we want to kayak the river when he gets back.  So we put the kayak carts together and put the kayaks on them on Tuesday night.  The two tires on my cart are solid tires and the two on David’s are inflatable.  We haven’t used the carts in some time so they need some air.  David uses the bike tire foot pump.

 

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We get the kayaks strapped on the carts and we are ready to go.

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Usually we like to get out on the river in the early morning when most folks are still in bed or having breakfast but today we’re out as soon as we can be at about noon.   We push the kayaks down the path to the put in.

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Once there, we take the carts apart, put them in the dry wells and off we go.

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Here comes David leaving the dock, on the right, behind.

 

 

 

What a gorgeous river on a gorgeous day and no one else in sight……….really?

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These bright red beauties on the bank catch our eyes.

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Cardinal flowers.

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I get a good look at this Great Blue Heron before he flies off down the river

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Beautiful surroundings for this common moorhen to be enjoying himself.

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Well we knew it couldn’t last and here they come down stream from the put in at the Spring.  Well except for the motor boat that has come upstream.  Only kayaks and canoes can put in at the springs.   Sure am glad we are coming toward them and they all pass us by.  Just another reason I don’t want put in at the springs and be part of the traffic all the way down  And of course then you have to paddle back up or arrange a shuttle.  This way, we paddle up and float back.  Sweet!  Hopefully all the traffic will be gone by then.

 

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LOTS of turtles.  They must be used to all the boats by now since they don’t seem to care who comes by.

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In looking at these pictures after the fact I’m happy to see that it looks like none of these is an invasive red slider but  are all native yellow bellied sliders.

 

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Look mom no hands.

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I know enough turtle pictures but this is less than half of the pictures I have and this little guy is just darling.  Those are splatterdock leaves and he is a teenie weenie cutie.

 

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David is a little piece of red and orange amid the light spring green of the leaves and the beautiful blue green of the water.

 

 

Can’t believe I got this shot as a great blue heron comes winging his way toward me. 

 

 

 

I come upon another double crested cormorant.  We’ve been seeing a lot of them on the river.  I don’t think much about it until later.

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The boats increase the closer we get to the spring.  David records the moment.

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There is so much beauty on this river it is easy to overlook the edges of the banks and the beautiful and individual strong cypress trees which line it.

 

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Anyone who has ever kayaked on the Silver River always hopes to see the rhesus macaque monkeys.  We are no exception and so we are all smiles when we see them sitting close to the bank looking out at the boats.  We pull up just off the shore and sit for a while to watch them.

The monkeys were released in 1938 by a tour boat operator to enhance his tours. He put them on an island and they promptly swam over to the shore.  Now there are estimated to be 200 monkeys in the park and they are expanding into nearby areas as adult males look for more territory.

 

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I read that a woman in the Villages 20 miles south found a male rhesus in a tree in her yard eating fruit. Scared her, scared the monkey who ran away.   There are 4 different groups now in the park and they are a big attraction that’s for sure.  The monkeys in the foreground and the background here would have to be part of the same group.

 

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They are as curious about us as we are about them.

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We sit and watch them for quite a while and take too many pictures.  Part of the group is further back in the trees and harder to get pictures of.  What they are mostly doing is grooming each other.

 

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I love the contrast of this huge cypress with the delicate parsnip flowers at its base.  Or at least I think they are parsnip

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I have a blue damsel fly hitchhiker.  He must feel an affinity with my boat.

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Can’t help but smile when ever I see this cute little grebe ducking and diving in the river. He has the wet head look.

 

 

I’m pretty surprised that this little blue heron lets David float by so closely without flying away.

 

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Actually he’s so relaxed about it all he’s standing on only one of his green feet.

 

 

I think the green heron is just a lovely bird with all of his colors and shades.

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Shortly he’s on high alert and sculking along.

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We know we are nearing the springs when we see the glass bottom boat. 

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It’s turtles by the gang to the left and right of me.

 

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The glass bottom boat takes a swing around an island and when they leave we paddle over to check out what they were looking at.   It’s the double crested cormorant rookery we saw on the boat tour on Equinox Sunday.  I’d forgotten about it.  No wonder I’ve seen so many cormorants up and down the river.

Looks sort of like high rise apartment buildings with nests on every limb/floor.

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I guess this would be the two bedroom penthouse suite.

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The main spring is just off to the right when you are almost at the boat dock.

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From our free ride of the glass bottom boats on Spring Equinox Sunday (blog post here) we know that the boat ride ends at the main spring so we  have lucked out in that only one boat is going out and two are still in.

 

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We head over to the spring where the water is a gorgeous blue and clear.

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Pretty sure that dark spot is the spring itself.  They don’t allow swimming here so the only ones who can get down there close and personal are scuba divers with special permits.  We saw the retro Sea Hunt divers  on Equniox Sunday as well.

 

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As we leave the spring area and head back down stream with the flow, I take this picture for the commenter who couldn’t find the base of the wrap around palm tree in my picture in a previous post.  That’s the base at the bottom of the red arrow on the left.  The trunk goes straight out and over the edge of the platform, dips down, swings around through the wood rails and comes out above itself for the tree top.  Pretty amazing.

 

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On down the river another cute little grebe is flapping its wings.

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I paddle by the rookery and find a cormorant with his mouth wide open.  He’s making kind of a low humming sound.

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The grasses I can see so clearly through the crystal waters are lush and beautiful.  I wonder where the manatees are?

 

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David pulls up to get some pictures of this exercising coot.  Take a look at his feet in that first picture.  Very interesting.

 

 

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We see a similar cast of characters in different location on our float back down.  The spring run does all the work.

 

The immature little blue heron.

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He flies off and looks as if he is trying to catch up with David.

 

 

When he lands, I can see his green legs, the dead give away that he is not an egret.

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Here you can see why the anhinga is called the snake bird.

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The green heron has some pretty ruffled feathers.

 

He too is on one foot and seems to be giving me “the look”.

 

Later I spot an anhinga drying his feathers after acting the role of snake bird.

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Mostly we are not paddling back, we are just floating along with the spring run.  Still I have to be looking very carefully to see the Great Blue Heron on the bank. 

 

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The scenery is beautiful and the river is empty of boats as we wend our way back to the park dock.  Before 10am and after 4pm seem to be quiet times on the water during Spring Break.

 

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David spots the excitement of the day.  It’s a pair of wood ducks along the shore.  We stay away and watch and take, of course, too many zoomed pictures.

 

 

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I’m just not sure there is a more beautiful duck in all the world.

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No matter the angle, no matter the light, they are just exquisite!

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Nature has outdone herself with this artistic effort.

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So many different colors and hues on one magnificent speciman.

 

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It was hard to determine which shots to include and which to leave out from so many that we had.  We were ecstatic just sitting and watching these ducks living their lives.

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I am on the opposite bank from the wood ducks taking their pictures.   LOVE my camera’s zoom lens.

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Our last bird citing of the day is the familiar black crowned night heron.

 

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Soon we are approaching the dock after a really lovely late afternoon float down the river with complete quiet.  Everyone else had gone by now.  This is the river at its most magical.   I’m sorry to see our time on it come to an end.  David is first to pull up there in the far distance.

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We have company to greet us.  They’ve been walking the river trail and loved seeing us come down and pull in.

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They go on their way, we get the carts out of the dry wells and put the boats on them.

 

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What a magnificent day on the Silver River we have had. 
Seeing the head spring, all the birds, the monkeys and the fabulous wood ducks, it seemed just one treat after another.

Although it was a bit too busy with boats from the spring put in for me on the way up, the float back was absolutely perfect.
We had the river to ourselves!

The Silver River never disappoints!!

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25 comments:

  1. Fabulous photos of the wood ducks. They are usually so shy! I would love to see those monkeys. Maybe I can talk Eldy into a day trip.... :-) thanks for sharing...

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  2. Amazing pictures! Loved seeing the variety of wildlife, but just curious, did you see any alligators? We saw a number of them on the river banks last month. Looks like a wonderful day!

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  3. Yet another delightful paddle, except for the crowd. I've never seen a wood duck, they are spectacular, along with all the other birds. Not to keen on the monkeys being there.

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  4. On the Arizona bird Facebook page there are frequently pictures of ducks called Mandarins that look (to me) just like the wood ducks. Whatever the name, they are absolutely gorgeous creatures. Do they really understand how intricate and beautiful they are, I wonder? ;->

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

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  5. I was surprised to see the monkeys. Do you know if monkeys are native to any part of the U.S./Northern Mexico?

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  6. What a gorgeous day of paddling! Your Wood Duck photos are fantastic -- so sharp and such brilliant color. They're usually so skittish that it's difficult to get a good photo of them. We're looking forward to kayaking the Silver River next winter. Love the color of that amazing water.

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  7. Great post--I felt like I was in the kayak with you.

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  8. What a lovely paddle! Wood ducks are really special. How fortunate that all those other watercraft were going the opposite direction from you.

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. So strange that my comment got removed :( I will try to remember what I said. I love the wood ducks, and how they look so much like the decoys (or?) the opposite. We really enjoyed the springs when we were there.

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  10. The monkeys are quite a fun sight!

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  11. You were glad that there were no red sliders because they're invasive, yet you are thrilled to see monkeys? What's up with that? Would they not be considered invasive as well?

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    1. Obviously the monkeys are not native but unlike the red sliders they don't compete with native species for food or territory. They also don't intermate as the reds and yellows do. They do carry hepatitis B though so that's a concern as is their growing numbers. Hope that answers the question Judy.


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  12. Love all the turtles - no hands is definitely my favorite! Greebs are always so cute and look like the "kids" among all the more elegant birds. Both the blue heron and the coot seem to be showing off for David :-) That water is so serene, I think my favorite pic is the front of the kayak over the grass. I imagine my fingers getting wet if I just touch my screen. The wood ducks are stunning. I can't imagine how complicated the DNA is to produce such precise combinations of color and design - every time!

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  13. Been silently following along for months now. Thought it was time to speak up and say just how much I have enjoyed tagging along and experiencing your wonderful photos and your keen insights. Thank you for sharing it all.
    Today's post on Silver River, the monkeys, and the many bird shots have happily removed me mentally from the surprise snow and cold here in Nova Scotia.
    Thanks again.

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  14. Perhaps another paddler can tell if that group of canoes coming at us was made up of racing canoes. They were in close formation and paddling hard. Their boats are low in the water compared to the more common canoes we see. I always think the green heron looks like he is dressed up for a night out, his colors are so sharp and bold, although he is not anywhere near as well dressed as the wood duck.

    I wonder why we never hear "Look dad, no hands."

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  15. Thanks Sherry for a great tour. Silver River is our absolute favorite paddle and this winter we were 0 for 2 trying to get the weather to cooperate with us;o(( I agree that the river will change with the new Spring boat launch. However, I believe you have found the trick...before 10am or after 4pm!! We will keep that bit of information in future plans. Every time I see that river it brings back such wonderful memories:o)))

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  16. Not sure why, but I love watching turtles:)

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  17. You get the award today for the best photos!! Wow! Amazing day on the water! The photos are spectacular:) I love the "no arms" turtle, those red blooms, and my favorite the green heron:) Sweet! And that wood duck...there aren't words for how beautiful this duck is. It looks more like a painted decoy than a real duck. Beautiful photos! Love your carts:)

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  18. Great post Silver River was my second or third kayak paddle I have not been able to kayak sense because of my spinal problems I'm not sure if I ever will again sure was nice seeing it again for your paddle and Camera.. I was there with my RV we look for the monkeys but never did see them friends.Donna AKA grammynmaggie

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  19. That was a very productive kayaking afternoon for bird sightings.

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  20. Fabulous! I just love it when you paddle with birds and turtles to entertain you accompanied by great shots of them enjoying their day. Indeed a magical day. I wished I was there in person but I'm thrilled just reading and riding with you.
    If we go back to Florida, kayaking at Silver Springs will be on my list.

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  21. You can never have too many turtle pictures! Love them! I wonder what ecological effects the addition of the monkeys have had. They have such cute faces! The heron's green legs are one of my favorite colors. The cormorant condo is pretty cool. I've never seen so many nests in one spot. I like the little green heron. The anhinga looks like he should be in a scary movie or a poem by Poe. This was a fun post! xxxooo

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  22. Those shots of the wood ducks and the hazy reflections were lovely.

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  23. Gorgeous paddle from the birds to the water colors. Thse wood ducks are stunning! Silver River is beautiful.

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