I particularly love parks with lots of things to do without driving anywhere. Two of those things are ones we did this week-end.
On the map you can see where the Salt Run, the water area behind the beach, is in relation to our campground, the smaller one in the lower left and in relation to the Atlantic Ocean.
We put our kayaks on our carts and walk them over to the put in which is approximately where the “clean fishing area” is labeled toward the bottom of the run. We paddle up to the lighthouse which is off the top of the map.
My favorite kind of kayaking is wetlands or marshes. The Salt Run is sort of an inlet apparently for fishing and wind surfing. Today we see many of the former and none of the latter.
I’m not actually expecting much, I just want to be out on the water, but there is a lot going on in the Salt run when we put in on Friday afternoon around 1pm.
David washes off his cart wheels so he can put the cart in the hold of the kayak before he gets in and shoves off. The put in is a bit muddy and he doesn’t want the mud from the wheels in his hold.
Net fishermen are just off the shore, a couple of Great Egrets to the left on the shore and a Great Blue Heron doing quite a dance across the water near the opposite shore.
When I first look over, I’m not sure what the heron is doing stretching out his wings.
He’s turning around this way and that. He’s either got a problem or he’s showing off.
Then it becomes more clear. Those are oysters lining the shore.
I watch them for quite a while until they fly away and then turn to the right to paddle as far toward the end of the run as possible and then paddle out. The run goes right up to the sand dunes but it is far too shallow to paddle there. The Atlantic is right on the other side.
It isn’t the vegetation that is wonderful today it is the number of birds. They are everywhere. These are just a small sampling of what we saw in this relatively small area. Must be mighty full of fish.
Adult and juvenile snowy egret.
The park gave us a brochure of the birds we could expect to see. Unfortunately two of them look like this guy but I’m going with Black Bellied Plover. If you know better please let me know. I have a terrible time with all these plover/sandpiper types.
These oyster catchers are actually standing out in the middle on some sort of high spot.
Are there oysters out there? There certainly are by the shore line.
Heading on down the run we can see the lighthouse in the distance and even closer as we approach.
Wonder what it would be like to live right next to such a cool lighthouse?
The two fishing stars today are the osprey and the pelican. There are two or three osprey and probably half a dozen pelicans diving into the water all around us. It’s wonderful to watch. We don’t move much, we don’t have to. It’s all happening in every direction I look.
What a wing span.
This may be my favorite photo of the day
It’s pretty easy to take pictures of them when they are fishing all around you.
Looks like this Double-Crested Cormorant sees something.
The fish hawk is Keepin’ an eye out. He’s definitely not shellfishing.
These guys seem to be working a lot harder than their feathered competition. Are they having as much luck? I wonder how does this boat work in water no deeper than the guy to the left is standing?
We didn’t paddle far but we sure saw a lot and had great fun watching the birds.
David returns first and has a single stork welcoming committee on shore to greet him.
As we’re getting our kayaks out of the water this man is taking his kayak out of the trunk.
It was flat when he started.
Neither of us has ever seen anything like this before. You unfold it and snap it together. It’s called Oru Kayak, is made in the USA. and weighs 26 lbs. Check out the link and you can see it unfold. Pretty niffty.
There are four series depending on what you want to do with them costing from $1175 to $2475.
All set for fishing which is what he does with his.
Today we walk over to the market rather than bike. The route takes us along the campground road which is beautiful with overarching Live Oaks.
The group of ad hoc musicians has grown since last week.
Today David spends most of his time at the African coffee truck. Its friendly owner is giving away samples of their dark brews. Just the kind he likes. The business is owned by an African husband and wife team who take the proceeds back to help their villages in Africa.
His favorites are the Kenyan and Ethiopian coffee. The stand also sells cashews and macadamia nuts. Those trees shade the coffee trees.
He finallyl determines that it is easier to buy one of each than to decide. He’s definitely happy about the prospect.
We look around at the fruit and veggie stands, pick up the things we can use and head back this time taking the Ancient Dunes trail. If you want to see more of what’s at the St. Augustine Farmer’s market a link to last week’s post is in purple above.
The Ancient Dunes Trail leads up and over a series of ancient sand dunes that were formed by wind and wave action during the time when the ocean extended farther inland than it does now. Over time the process of life, death and decay gradually enriched the sand so that now a maritime forest stands where there was once only sea oats.
The entire rest of the park other than the dune at the seashore is so flat that it is amazing to find these hills here in the woods.
We go up and down several of the dunes. The first two are just paths over the dunes.
But as the dunes get higher, steps are provided first just to go down and then to go up as well. I’m happy that these ancient dunes are being so protected. Bikes are prohibited here.
As you can see, I am in front as we go up, down and around in this wonderful forest.
It’s about a half hour walk and a wonderful relaxing experience.
After putting away the groceries and having lunch we head up and over the current dune and as we are walking up the boardwalk David notices this narrow fellow in the grasses below.
He’s snoozing in the sun. He’s the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, the largest venomous snake in the US. His average size is 5 to 6 feet long.
Well maybe not snoozing. A zoom in shows he’s alert, looking and the rattle is going. Guess the kids that preceeded us up the boardwalk running and stamping worried him. From a coiled position like this he can strike half his body length. Glad we are 7 to 8 feet above him. Notice the blurr of the shaking rattle.
It’s another beautiful day at the ocean, although the breeze eventually makes us bundle up.
Life is definitely a beach!