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Friday, June 24, 2011

Tomoka River

Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Today, Friday June 24th, did kayak the Tomoka River. It was a recon expedition since wifey decided it was too hot today to go kayaking and she was right: it was really HOT. But it was a nice change after not kayaking last weekend. This is going to be a short post since did not end with too many good pics. Had a problem with my reading glasses and shoot most of the pics just by instinct. I do not know if this is a paddle wifey would like to try though. Spent many minutes paddling with nothing to shoot pics at.


Put In / Take Out: The put in and take out for this trip was the boat ramp at the Tomoka State Park at Ormond Beach, FL. Click on the link for information about the state park. It was almost 10:20 when I paid $4.00 at the gate and was in the water about 10 minutes later. No more than three boat trailers at the parking lot and one of them left as I put in. They have a concession at the park, Tomoka Outpost, where you can rent a canoe or a kayak. I do not have information about the prices, sorry, but the next pic gives you a phone number you can call if you are interested.

Tomoka Outpost at Tomoka State Park

Snowy Egret
The Tomoka River is influenced by the tide and it was going out at that time. The Tomoka River empties in the Halifax River just North of the put in. Open salty marshes and dark brackish waters are the predominant view in the first few miles from the state park but then it changes to fresh water and the scenery also changes. It was my plan to go up river as far as possible, maybe to Thompson Creek, and then back to the take out. Looking at the googlemaps it seems like did just that. Next time it is my goal to explore or Thompson Creek or Strickland Creek. Here is a map for your reference: Tomoka River.

Oh crabs!!!
Something interesting happened today. I was taking a pic of a Yellow Crowned Night Heron, the one in the opening pic, and from the distance it looked like the ground around it was moving. The bird was moving fast after the "moving ground" and I was curious about it so decided to take a closer look. It was then when realized why the ground was moving. Tens of little crabs were trying to run for their life at the attack of the Yellow Crowned Night Heron, that was feeding on them. It was somehow cool to see that happening but I am sure the crabs were not having a good time. Was able to shoot a pic of the heron with a crab on its beak.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron has lunch

Did You Know That?: The Yellow Crowned Night Heron is listed as threatened in the state of New Jersey and endangered in the state of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Unlike other night herons the Yellow Crowned Night Heron is active during the day as well as at night. This dude will pray on small turtles, or crabs, as its stomach secretes an acid capable of dissolving shells. Did you know that? I had no idea.

Tri-Colored Heron

Well, as promised, this is going to be short so it is time to make good that promise. Here are more pics of what I saw today. Saw but do not have pics of Green Herons and Cardinals. Also, in two different times heard the characteristic ...pfffffttttt...of a manatee but did not see it. Do not know if it was my imagination or what the heck was it.


Great Blue Heron



More crabs!!!!

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron (adult)

To be determined...Help please?

Little Blue Heron (juvenile)

Little Blue Heron (juvenile)

Now some scenery pics...

Tomoka River view

Tomoka River views

Tomoka River marshes

Tomoka River

Tomoka River

Tomoka River

Houses on the Tomoka River

Storm in the horizon

That is all for this one my friends. As usual here is the link to all the pics of this trip: Tomoka River.

Thanks for reading and hope you come back next week for another Views From Our Kayak.

Tomoka State Park

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Rookery at St. Augustine (not from the kayak)

Cattle Egret and chick

Today our view it is not from our kayak but from our feet. Mom is visiting and as much as she likes going out sight seeing I cannot put her in a kayak for hours. I also want to spend time with her. With that in mind decided to take her out to St. Augustine, where I took my In-Laws when they visited almost a year ago. But instead to take Mom to the Spanish Fort in St. Augustine, took her to the Alligator Farm since I have heard about their nice Boardwalk around the swamp and the bird rookery that is in there. Have to tell you that it was great. Mom liked the trip and so did we.

Gator at alligator lagoon
Quite frankly it is not the same to look a gator at a protected enclosure than looking at it from a kayak. But I am glad the guy in the picture above was inside the lagoon and I was out of it. It would be freaky to be close to a gator doing that in the wild. But after watching the feeding show they presented at the Alligator Farm, and adding all the gators we have seen in a little more than a year paddling, it is clear that they are not vicious killers. They can be scary though and it is better to respect and give them some room.

Alligator feeding show at Alligator Farm

I will spare you the details for tonight. No Put In/Take Out information since there was no kayaking involved, well...not completely true, but here is the information on The Rookery at Alligator Farm in St. Augustine. Let us go directly to the pics wifey took today at The Rookery.

Cattle Egret

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Tri-Colored Heron

Wood Stork

Roseate Spoonbill
And then the cool part of this trip...chicks...NO!!!! No those chicks. This is a G rated blog. I am talking about these chicks...

Great Egret chicks....

Cattle Egret chicks...

Snowy Egrets chicks...

Snowy Egret checks on the eggs

Snowy Egret chicks

Snowy Egret chicks

Snowy Egret at the nest

Snowy Egret takes care of its eggs

Snowy Egret chick

Tri-Colored Heron chicks...

Roseate Spoonbill chicks...

And Wood Stork chicks...

Alligators at the Alligator Swamp - Rookery area
Did You Know That?: Wading birds build their roosts in swampy areas with many alligators around since the gators provide the birds protection against predators like possums, raccoons, and snakes. Even when the birds do lose chicks to the gators it is still a positive tally for the birds, who would lost way more if the gators were not around.

That is all. I hope to be back in the water. Spotted a couple of places while driving to St. Augustine and may kayak one of them next week.

Thanks for reading and see you soon for another Views From Our Kayak!!!!!

The Rookery