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

Henry David Thoreau

Blue Spring- Changes on Snake Creek

Thursday January 3, 2019                                                       Most Recent Posts:
Blue Spring State Park                                                           January Heat Wave in Manatee Country
Orange City, Florida                                                               From Ocean to Spring with a Big Interruption

It’s foggy when I walk down to the boat dock on Thursday morning just after dawn.  The only folks around are a group of black vultures which seem to live in the area just next to the boat launch.


Before I get in my kayak, I notice a committee meeting of sorts going on just to the left of the boat launch.



I notice the buzzards are not the only ones hanging around near the boat dock..   A Limpkin and a Wood Stork were also here in or near the shallows of the water..



I get my kayak positioned, take this picture, walk it into the water, get in and off I go.  One lone bird remains at the launch.  The black vulture on the pole seems unfazed by my presence.

Once in the boat I check out the top of the trees where I spot a Great Blue Heron.  They always look so strange, such big birds in the seemingly small branches at the top of trees.



I also spot a lone hawk on the snag sticking up.


Based on the color of his chest, I think he’s a red shouldered hawk.  Gorgeous bird.


The map is what the kayak/canoe rental place gives out.  The park itself has no map of the waterways unfortunately.  The blue star is where the boat launch is located, at the end of the boardwalk from the spring to the St. John’s River.  I have turned left and see the hawk above me in a tree on the far side of what is known as the lagoon.  It’s that odd shaped thing.  The next picture is what I see when I consider paddling into the lagoon this morning.   It’s beautiful in the fog but goes no where and I really want to head up Snake Creek to the back of Hontoon Island so I keep on going and turn into the Smith Canal.


The sun still hasn’t made an entry.


On the way to the Creek I spot this kingfisher.


There is something ancient feeling and swampy about the birds and cypress knees along the river.



At this point, I have to be very careful in looking for the opening to the creek.  It’s nearly hidden if you don’t know where to look.


While I’m looking along the edge, I get a fly by and an alligator sighting.



Does it look like an entry to a creek?


The entrance is quite narrow but then it widens out a bit.


The still water shows off the reflection of the Little Blue Heron.



The creek widens and narrows repeatedly..   It’s like being in another calmer, gentler world.


In the tree on the far left is a lone Ibis.  They usually hang out in groups.




I see another limpkin on a snag also off to the left.



Nothing but the sounds of the birds, the dark water and the trees.


An egret flies over my head.

The dark gray in the tree next to the tallest one turns out to be another Little Blue Heron
who apparently likes me less than the last one which was actually closer to my boat.  This one flies off.  Or maybe it’s not me at all just time to move on.



I’m quite surpised when I come to an impass of water lettuce and hydrilla.  This was not here last year.  These are among the most aggressive water plants in Florida.  Water lettuce can double in a few weeks.  Hydrilla stems can elongate as much as 6 or 8” per day.  

I can see the open water from here and decide to try to power through the mass.  It is hard and very slow going.  


Water Lettuce


I make it through but am not looking forward to the paddle back.


More great reflections.


The water plant invasion is encroaching from both sides.  Will the creek soon disappear from kayaking possibilities?


I reach another and larger mass.  I can’t see any open water even as far as my zoom can go.
Sadly I turn back, defeated by the invasives.  What used to be nearly a day long paddle up to the Hontoon Dead River and the back of Hontoon Island is no more.   I wonder if a motored boat would try cutting through this?


On the way back an anhinga and an alligator make great reflections in the water.





The alligator on the bank lets me know that everything along the edge is not water plants.  There is actually some dry ground.   A bit beyond the spot he staked out I pull up for a rest stop.


Back in the kayak, I notice an anhinga and an Ibis high above me.





Just after I zoom in, he turns and makes ready for flight. 


As the morning sun warms things up, the turtles come out to sun bathe.


The Great Blue Heron hides well in the gray branches, but he doesn’t stay long.


After battling through the water plant mass I come upon which may be a guided paddle.  Wonder what they will do when they reach the rough going?


Another kingfisher with a great hair day.


Perhaps the same heron, perhaps not.  I like his reflection and am able to get a close up.


It seems to be a day of reflections.   Paddling Snake Creek is a great place to see reflections and to do some personal reflecting as well.   Things are becoming increasingly difficult in our life so I’m grateful for these little get aways. 



Back in the St. John’s River I can look ahead and see the tour boat.  It’s wide open paddling here.


As I approach the put in, the tour boat is on my left and some private boats are anchored on the right. 


Even the take out is awash in reflections.  



  1. Except for the invasive Water Lettuce, that looks like a very nice paddle. Many birds, a few alligators, a turtle and lots of reflections. Too bad it's not as easy to paddle so far anymore :( I love the kindfisher pictures. Great hair!

  2. The water birds were some of my favorite things about Florida. We enjoyed them for several months early 2018.

    You get the best Kingfisher pics. . .I really struggle to get a good one. . .still don't have one as good as yours, but I will keep trying.

  3. I don't think I could do that with an alligator looking at me. You are brave! David I hope this is a good day for you too.

  4. Oh so very sad, and yet so very happy that we got to experience Snake Creek before the invasives took over. It was the highlight of my Florida trip in 2014, with the best water and the best paddling of any of our adventures that year. I'll never forget it. More birds than we saw on any other paddle as well. I see that it was also a lot greener when we were there, just a month later or so in the year. I'm glad we are going to Florida a bit later this year as well. See you soon.

  5. I think I would like a little more vertical separation between me and the gators while on the water:)

  6. Love this. It looks like a peaceful time. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Wow! Wow! Wow! I think this post has more cool pictures of any you have posted! The vultures, heron, anhinga, alligator, kingfisher, ibis and egret and turtle pictures are just wonderful! I'm fascinated by the anhinga when they spread their wings out. I'm probably one of few who think vultures are cool. The anhinga photo right before the turtle is stunning. Is the big black bird sitting and then flying a heron? I also like the picture of the alligator in front of the red plants. Thanks so much for such fabulous photos! xxxooo

  8. Loved all the bird photos. That's one thing I miss about Florida.

  9. Oh no....I'm so sad to see that terrible hydrilla and water lettuce taking over the waterway. But I'm going to focus on your gorgeous wildlife sightings—you really had a spectacular day, with so many birds. And your photos are wonderful. I'm glad you're finding moments of peace in the midst of challenging times.

  10. The vultures are so weird looking they are beautiful creatures! I agree with those who wondered about the alligator being so close!

  11. Great pictures of all the beautiful birds, the gators well I know you zoom in but yikes you took some great close ups with the zoom

  12. Great reflection photos. We're so looking forward to doing some paddling in FL. Too bad about the water lettuce taking over the waterway.

  13. Sad state of affairs when vultures get along better than our politicians right now. Maybe politicians need to take some lessons from vultures? :cD

    Another amazing paddle, too bad that lettuce got in your way. So many invasive species ruining wonderful places. :c(

  14. Beautiful paddle! Lots of wildlife to keep the camera busy. I love the photo down the creek with the clouds in rows...so pretty:)

  15. I think that you should write a book with illustrations, Sherry. You do know how to create an interest in a photo and tell your feelings, perceptions and thoughts on a quiet paddle day. And you captured my feathered friends in their habitat, reflections and all!

  16. Many of the Florida waters are being overgrown like this one. Unfortunately, they seem to want to spray chemicals to remove it and I believe that is a big part of what is causing all the toxic blue/green algae and red tide which led to the horrendous fish, turtle, manatee and dolphin deaths. Your paddle certainly had a lot of wildlife for you to photograph. Great photos. We haven't been kayaking for a long time and your pictures make me want to get out there.

  17. Pretty awesome set of photo's. Especially liked the committee meeting, the anhinga and the kingfisher. Kingfishers are beautiful. David and I grew up on Kingfisher Lane in Levittown but I never saw a Kingfisher while I lived there!! Maybe David did? The water lettuce reminds me of the Kudzu plague up and down the East Coast.

  18. Seeing Herons in tree tops makes me laugh. I love when you paddle and except for all that water lettuce, it looks so peaceful. Something I'm sure you need.

  19. Your posts remind me of the time we spent in Florida. We need to get back there someday!


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