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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Econlockhatchee River

Soaring over the Econlockhatchee River

Tri Colored Heron (juvenile)
Today was my wife's return to the water. She took time to be with her parents who went back home last Wednesday. She wanted to go to Katie's Landing( Lower Wekiva River) and has been giving me a hard time about the pics from my last week trip. I did not want to go there but to somewhere in the west coast, maybe the Hillsborough River. But she took her sweet time and we were still at home at 8:45AM. So, not wanting to go to Katie's Landing two times in a row we settled for kayaking the Econlockhatchee River. It was a good decision in a hot, really hot and steamy day.

Put In / Take Out: The put in for this trip was the area at the Snow Hill Rd bridge over the Econlockhatchee River. If you are traveling on CR419, or Chuluota Rd, turn north at the traffic signal on Snow Hill Rd. The bridge is a mile and a half, maybe two, ahead. There is another put in to kayak the Econ River at the east side of the CR419 bridge over the river. We arrived at the Snow Hill Rd. bridge at 10:05 and were in the water by 10:12.

Econ River flora

Great Egret
A young lady arrived in a pick up truck with a dog. She said hello and walked into the bike trail. A couple in a canoe arrived from up river as we were leaving. They were the only boat we saw in the water. The gentleman told us they saw lots of alligators and that pumped us. We were not in the river more than 5 minutes when my wife spotted a juvenile Tri Colored Heron. For me that was a rare sight since as I write, cannot remember seeing a Tri-Colored Heron in the Econ, which is not a place where you will see lots of birds or other forms of wildlife. Sadly, up to that point the places with accumulation of trash were outnumbering the wildlife sightings. In and out the river the trash was all over the place.

A sad common view along the banks of the Econlockhatchee River

Bald eagle
So far we had not seen any gators and wifey started to feel tired. The heat was incredible and it was also humid. She had to clean the camera lens more than once since it became foggy several times. While looking for gators in the banks was also scouting the trees trying to spot bald eagles since the Econ is a nice place to see that raptor. Then, like maybe 40 to 45 minutes into our paddle I saw a dead tree and thought that it was a good place for an eagle to be. Besides the dead saw a pine tree and thought the same thing. Dang!!!!! If there is no eagle there... were are they? It was then when saw the eagle on another pine tree not too far from the first one I saw. Told my wife about it and she became very happy. It was a while since we saw eagles from the yak. Anyways, long story short she did shoot some pics from different angles. The eagle seemed to look at us and say..."Dudes...It is hot as heck. Find a shade as I did".

Bald eagle at the Econlockhatchee River

Did You Know That? Immature bald eagles do not develop their distinctive white head and tail until they are between 4 and 5 years old.

Great Blue Heron

Gator on the river bank
After several minutes shooting pics of the eagle my wife asked me to find her a gator. It had to be a BIG gator, per her request. Sure thing, next thing we know we are looking at a medium sized reptile that was sunning in the north bank of the river. We did not see gators as big as the ones we saw last February, when did our first report of Views From Our Kayak. That day we saw some big kahunas and also saw an eagle's nest with eaglets in it. We agreed that today we would go up to the nest and will then turn around. Today the big ones(gators) were somewhere else or in the bottom of the river but we saw our share of them.

Belted Kingfisher on the hunt

Trail bridge over the Econlockhatchee River
We reached the area of the trail bridge around 11:45. A Great Blue Heron was wading nearby as a couple in horses crossed the river using the bridge. It is not the first time we see horses in the area. It is part of what can you see when you kayak this part of the Econ River. We did not stop and kept going up river and to be honest, I was about to turn around 20 minutes after. The heat was brutal and wifey, did not blame her for that, was moody. Only because she saw gators to shoot pics at, and another eagle, she did not mind going all the way to the nest.

Econlockhatchee River gator

Econ River bald eagle
Just before the nest area we saw another, or maybe the same, eagle. This one was much closer because the tree where it was was not as high as the first one. My photographer had a field day shooting pics and told me..."I am going to change the settings just in case the eagle goes flying". Less than one minute later the eagle took flight and left in a hurry. Wifey did shoot some nice pics, the best ones I have seen her taking, of the eagle in flight, which made her very excited and happy. She started saying that she believed she got it and boy she did!!!!!! I was happy for her. She loves to see eagles and being able to shoot the pics she did take gives her something different to think about. She already misses her parents, I do, but at least for some time today she did not think that they are not here with her again.


We did paddle up river for maybe 10 minutes after the nest and were going to keep going when we saw two naked guys ahead of us in the south bank of the river. Seemed like they were going to take a dip. I do not know if they were camping there or what the heck were they doing naked in that part of the river. I only know that was not willing to expose my wife to that show so turned around right there. I am not a local but for the life of me, would not jump naked into the Econ. As a matter of fact, would not jump into the river at all. Anyways, maybe they did us a favor since  both us were very tired at the time.


We rushed ourselves in our way down river. Made one stop at the trail bridge and for a couple of gator pics. Here are more pics of what we saw today at the Econlockhatchee River...

Bald Eagle

Someone riding a horse over the trail bridge over the Econ


River Flora

Gator goes under

Tufted Titmouse (Thanks Anonymous)

Econ River bald eagle

And yet another gator

And they give the anhinga a 6 for style and 10 for effort

Erosion is putting a number on the river banks

Gator goes hiding

Great Blue Heron



Juvenile Tri-Colored Heron

Flying Eagle...Now...That is a perfect 10.

Well, that is all for this one. For more pics from this and past trips to the Econ please click on the following link: Econlockhatchee River

Thanks for reading and hopefully next week will be back from another place in Florida for another Views From Our Kayak!!!!!!

Econlockhatchee River

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lower Wekiva River(From Katie's Landing)

Wekiva River manatees

Oasis of The Seas (at Cozumel, Mexico)
Hello there. This is my first kayaking trip in two weeks. I was on vacation with my family and while was not in a kayak, was in a boat...the boat in the pic...a bigger boat...way bigger than my kayak. Today, Friday August 19th, went to one of my favorite places: The Lower Wekiva River from Katie's Landing. It is close from home and had plans for a short solo paddle. My In Laws are visiting and my wife did not come with me so today paid a high price for not being with her. Did something to the camera settings my wife has on it and most of the pics I took ended up in the recycle bin, if you know what I mean. That almost ruined my day. Lost about 75% of the pics.  Anyways...lesson learned. But it was a great paddle, as usual, on the Wekiva River. For the first time in so many trips to this river, saw manatees. I have read reports about the sea cows being there but had never personally seen it. Today I did. The details to come later.


Put In /  Take Out: My Put In and Take Out for this paddle is, was, and will always be Katie's Landing. Click on this link, Katie's Landing, for more information about it. The road that is referenced there, the one just before the bridge if you are traveling East to West on SR46, is Wekiva Park Dr.


Great Egret
I was in the water by 9:40AM. Did not have any plans regarding how far to go down river. Was going to paddle until noon and then come back to the put in. Spent a few minutes in the area in front of the put in. Usually there are lots of birds there and you can always see a gator but not this time. An anhinga and an osprey were my "Welcome Back to Kayaking" party. At 10AM started to paddle/float down river. A Great Egret came out of the vegetation in a hurry as I paddled by and flew out of sight. Other than that there were turkeys and Ibis in the house's yards in this part of the river. After maybe half a mile down river there are no more houses and it is just nature.

Wekiva River

Two manatees swim by on the Wekiva River
There is a tiny island down river. There I saw the first gator of the day. It was a small one and it was sunning. A ray of sunlight was coming thru the trees and the gator was right under it. It seemed like a spot light was on it. A heck of a pick!!!! If only I did not mess with the camera settings. That was one that ended at the recycle bin but I did not know it at that time so was pretty excited. Heard a Green Heron to my right coming out of the island. Looked for it but it was too deep into the woods. It was then when heard a...pfffffffffffttttttttt or the sound the manatees do when breathing. Did not see the manatee and thought that it was my imagination but on the other hand, I know there have been manatee sightings in the Wekiva River. "I am not that lucky" was my first thought. Was taking a pic of a Great Blue Heron when heard the pfffffffttt again and this time was not my imagination because almost immediately heard a loud splash. When I looked into the direction of the sounds saw a flipper and then a manatee tail coming up. Maybe I am that lucky after all. Not one...not two...but three manatees. Saw two of them first and then the other one after a couple of minutes. Awesome!!!!!

Did You Know That? Power plants are not that bad for manatees.Power plant effluents have played a critical role on manatee protection. Manatees will suffer cold stress and cold related diseases when the ambient water temperatures drops under 68F. As the coastal development in the South east and the South west have pushed manatees to the north the power plant effluents have helped the manatees, which seek the warmth of their effluents. The Brevard County waters also offered many habitat features the manatees need.

Manatee on the Wekiva River

Turtle reflection
As you can see from the pics the water looked like tea. The most of the time clear waters of the springs fed river were not as clear this time. We have had a lot of rain in the area for the last three days and that is the result. Spent several minutes with the manatees paddling up and down the area where they were. Came close a couple of times but were not interested in my green yak. Left them there and kept going down the river. It was spectacular; green, blue and great blue herons, ibis, pileated and red bellied woodpeckers, turtles, gators, cardinals, red shouldered hawks, and incredibly one but me in the river. The only person I saw yesterday during the paddle was on my way up: a gentleman in a kayak. A motor boat was coming down as I took my kayak out at Katie's Landings.

Oooooops. Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time.

Pic friendly gator
The rest of the trip was typical Wekiva River. The gators were coming out of their hiding places but were not in the sun but in the shades. It was so hot that even the gators stayed under cover. Saw many small ones and a couple of big ones. One of them gave me a scare when I placed my yak between it and deep water. Guess where did it go trying to hide from the mean camera shooting at it...Exactly...under my kayak. Know what? I have heard about their natural fear from humans and all that talk. But believe me, that is no consolation when you see one of these big kahunas swimming fast toward you, even if you know they are trying to hide and want nothing to do with you. In case you are asking what did I do, probably broke my own record of how fast, and far, I can paddle in ten seconds. Did not look back to see where it was.

Green Heron

Here are some more pics of this trip...

Wild turkey


Great Blue Heron

Manatee swims in front on the yak

Green Heron. The pink little things in the stick are snail eggs


Pileated Woodpecker

Little Blue Heron

Collision course!!!!

Great Blue Heron is a sunning position

Little Blue Heron

Baby gator

Another baby gator...


Red Bellied Woodpecker

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane chick

Sadly that is all for this trip. Hopefully next time my wife will come with me and the pics will be better. Thanks for reading and hope to see you next week on another Views From Our Kayak.

Scenic Wekiva River