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

Henry David Thoreau

The Rest of the Story

Tuesday February 25, 2014
Blue Spring State Park
Orange City, Florida



Remember those 433 pictures I told you about yesterday in my post about the morning?


Well here is the afternoon part of the story.



We put the kayaks in at the Blue Springs boat ramp which is beyond the end of the spring run and the tour boat dock.  It is just a lazy paddle on a lovely afternoon.  No destination in mind.  We turn left out of the boat ramp in the St. John’s River and paddle just a small distance to what is known as the lagoon.  Sometimes there are manatees there feeding.  Not today but there are many other things to hold our interest including the beautiful day itself.








I admit, I get a little fixated with this Snowy Egret. 


David is paddling all around the lagoon while I’m sitting right here watching the antics of this beautiful bird.  At this point the wind hasn’t picked up so it isn’t difficult to stay in one place.















Is he talking to me?







Eventually I move on join David in circling the lagoon.







I move around to the other side of the lagoon and get fixated again on this little composite band.  The leader is the Great Egret, his followers 2 adult and one juvenile white Ibis and one lone moorhen.   Like the Snowy Egret they let me float my boat very close to the shore as long as I don’t move – hold the camera to your eye and no paddling.











Further on down the shore a great egret is hanging out with some coots.







I think spring has sprung here.  I’m seeing lots of pairs of birds today including these hawks giving each other the eye.








We’ve made the circle of the lagoon and I find this anhinga on a branch near the mouth where the lagoon joins the river.  Look at that eye.






Around the corner and back passed the boat dock we go. 


Black vultures are drying their wings.  I’m used to seeing cormorants and anhingas doing this but I had no idea that the vultures had golden tipped wings.  Maybe they aren’t drying their wings, maybe spring has them displaying for each other.  I don’t know.





After we pass the boat launch, we pull over at the roped off mouth of the spring where people are gathered often during the day in order to see the manatee and perhaps have them swim under a boat on their way out of the spring.  No luck today.  I’m pretty sure all the manatee are already out feeding.






Some nice digs, but even so, I wouldn’t trade my wheels.


As we round the bend in the river and head in the direction of Hontoon Island, I spy this piece of park property.  I wonder if it is the park manager who is the lucky ducky that gets to live in this little river front spot.  The sign says park boundary no tresspassing just to the right of the dock.   




A little blue heron is concentrating on his fishing at the base of the seawall.  I am able to get ridiculously close to him too.  This is the thing I love most about kayaking.  If I just float along and don’t paddle, very often the birds pay me no mind at all.








David didn’t stop as long to look for manatee as I did and he is further up the river. 


We aren’t going as far as  Hontoon Island today.  I want to have an entire day to do that paddle and some hiking in the state park there.   I find him waiting for me under the speed limit sign.   These are posted all along the river in this area.  Most but not all boaters pay attention to them.  Sadly the majority of manatee deaths and injuries are due to blunt trauma with a boat hull.  The scars you see on their back are from cuts, some quite serious, from the boat propeller.






While waiting patiently :-)  he takes these two pictures to share with me and now with you.  Pretty good entry in the kingfisher contest. 






I get side tracked yet again.

We make a left hand turn off of the river and down a meander which goes in a loop and rejoins the river back down nearer the boat dock.  I’m not sure why David waits for me since once again  I  get stuck.  This time in a smaller lagoon watching the turtles and spying the coot.  He looks so cute there.  










How about this trick?




When I get back on track and start down the waterway David is on, I find him sitting in a gorgeous setting among the cypress trees which he loves.







Now this stop is even more wonderful and really fascinating.

I’m still behind him as we approach these two spanish moss draped trees where again I get way laid by two Great Heron love birds.  Look high up in the tree nearest the water.  They are the two dots you see.







The trees are gorgeous and make a lovely setting for the soon to be heron rookery.









At first there is only one bird.  Then the second, probably the male, flies in and begins to do his flashy stuff.   He flies off and comes back several times.  She waits.











She must have given him the go ahead because the next time he flies off and comes back he has nesting material in his mouth.




The two I have been watching are in the top of the tree.  At first I think the nest below them is theirs.  But then I see a third heron fly in, go to that nest and stick its head down in as though it might be feeding some young or perhaps just working on the inside.









This is my pair of love birds.  If you look closely you can see the material he has brought back and is carefully placing as the start of the nest.  Look at the very tip of his bill and the clearly cut off end of the branch he is trying to place.




My arms are telling me it’s time to be on my way.


This is fascinating.  Unfortunately my arms are getting tired from holding my camera and binoculars face up for so long and the afternoon is waning so it’s time to go catch up with David who has come back to see what could have happened to me this time.  


A little further along, I see this anhinga drying his wings.  His hair looks like perhaps he is a young bird or he’s had a rough swim of it today.  Just look at those eyes.   They are so striking you can even see them in the picture of him drying his wings.











I take these last few pictures just before we are back in the river.
What a great day it has been for doing some paddling and a lot of watching.












We do finally get back to the dock where we tie the boats up awaiting their next trip onto the St. John’s.  Two days of rain are predicted so a paddle up to Hontoon Island State Park will be postponed.  Today has been a stunning afternoon on the water and I hope you’ve gotten a good sense of the amazing beauty without having to look at all 433 pictures.   What were your favorites of the ones I chose for the rest of today’s story?




  1. Fantastic pics and story, enjoyed the day you had, if I could swim, I would learn to enjoy a kayak.

  2. The Anhinga is so different. But you also had many great photos. Not fair to make me choose.

  3. Beautiful pics! Thanks for my Florida fix!

  4. Thank you so much for the pictures. We have stayed in the SP at Blue Springs a couple of times, but have never had time to get the boat in the water. Wonderful trip!

  5. You have so many wonderful bird photos tonight. I couldn't pick a favorite!

  6. So many great pictures! How do you time to process them? I was swamped with just the 100+ I took in Tombstone. Most of them are still awaiting attention.

    Virtual hugs,


  7. I like the last cloud picture and the turtles, of course!!! But the feathers on those birds are great, aren't they???

  8. Can't pic a favorite, but you really took some wonderful bird photos!! Meant to tell you that there was a Great Blue Rookery at the pond near the recycle bins at St. George. I thought about you and your Great Blue friend at that park each time I walked by. Nature is amazing:o))

  9. I love the way you enjoy every place you go and everything you do. You really see the "real Florida." So many people who say they hate Florida haven't taken the time to see what you see.

    I think my favorite pictures are the ones of the mating pair of Blue Heron's. I also admited the shot of the kingfisher.

    Have you ever done any scuba diving? As much as you love the beauty on the top of the water, you would love the underwater beauty even more!

  10. What lovely pics...so fun to the pairings of lovers! Spring Is in the air!

  11. All that beauty and wildlife, and the time to enjoy it at your own pace - priceless :-). Buzzards are so lovely from the back - not so much from the front - they were one of my favorite shots. The heron yoga was definitely in the running. I love turtles and cypress trees too. But the silly little coot peeking out of the vegetation wins for me.

  12. I think you're slacking off. Only 433 pictures? There has to be much more room on your camera to capture every living creature in Blue Springs! ;c)

    I really liked the picture of the anhinga's eye. You've turned me on to looking beyond the body of the bird or animal and seeing the beauty of their eyes. You're a wonderful teacher, pointing out the often overlooked parts of nature.

  13. David got a really great shot of the Kingfisher. . .love it!

    now that you've made me aware of the Aningua eyes, I'm going to need to pay more attention. . .great post!

  14. What a great time! I must say that is one scary looking spider!

  15. I LOVE those eyes, but I also loved the one of David sitting under the cypress trees. He looks so peaceful.....and PATIENT! LOL! I really love the kayaking days.....makes me miss mine. Soon, I hope!

  16. I vote for the nesting GBH's! I agree with you that kayaking is the perfect way to get close to the birds, especially the egrets and herons.

  17. Absolutely the favorite picture is of the Anhinga (picture 22, I counted!) drying his wings. The colors are stunning! The mating pair of herons run a close second :-) So wish we could have done the paddle with you!

  18. Beautiful paddle! You certainly captured some great shots of the birds. Not sure I can pick just one.

  19. wow lovely birds with such pretty looks..Just fall in love with them.

  20. I think you need to do a book. Your pictures are great! Love the graceful lines of the herons' necks and bodies. The anhingas wings do not look like feathers- more like leather or plastic and love the eyes. The kingfisher is so cute! And, of course, I love the turtles! Looks like a wonderful paddle and a beautiful day-

  21. Goodness, so many great pictures, but I'll pick three, no make that four. The snowy egret standing regal and softly landing, the little blue heron ruffling those beautiful feathers into a feather duster, and the great heron in the tree with his white forehead up and the black sides accenting his very colorful beak (DSCF7777). How'd he do that?? Five would have to be the cormorant eye picture. All favorites!


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