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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Santa Fe River



Belted Kingfisher

The Santa Fe River...What a beautiful place!!!!! I did not have in mind paddling there but my plans usually go wrong. It happens because there are so many variables on them. Plan A was kayaking the Suwanee River from Manatee Springs. Maybe go all the way up to Fanning Springs and return back to Manatee Springs. That depended on us being on the road as early as possible, maybe 6AM. Did not happen. Plan B, after Googling "kayaking near Gainesville FL", was to drive to the Santa Fe Canoe Outpost and go from there, maybe use their shuttle services. That was also depending on the time on the road. After going over the route the night before remembered my mentor posting about kayaking the Santa Fe river from US27 after kayaking the Ichetuknee River. After reading one of his post in Dave's Yak Tales(there is a link to his blog on the left column here) decided that was the way to go. Thought about driving to Poe Springs but I had been in the US27 bridge over the Santa Fe, did a job in a place nearby last year and stopped there one day on my way home, and knew the put in was going to be easy.

Santa Fe River Turtle

Juvenile Ibis
Put In / Take Out: Put in at the US27 bridge over the Santa Fe River. It is a boat ramp, which means concrete, but a canoe or kayak can put in at the side. It is also rocky so be careful when you put in. We arrived at the bridge a few minutes before noon. Had to dropped our son in Gainesville before driving to the Santa Fe and then decided to eat a sandwich before starting our paddle since we were hungry already. A couple of guys were loading some kayaks in the boat ramp as we arrived. Dropped the yak to the side of the ramp and dragged it to the river.



Santa Fe River scene

Snowy Egrets
As we started our paddle I had no high expectations since did not know what to expect. Talked to my wife about going all the way down to Ginnie Springs, do some snorkeling and return. Problem was that I forgot the snorkeling gear in the van and did not realize it until 20 minutes into the paddle. The scenery was outstanding, just beautiful. Ibis and turtles were everywhere. There are some houses in the banks of the river in the beginning. More in the East bank than in the West bank. The river is beautiful, shallow most of the time, the bottom is rocky, and has some shoals where we had to come out of the yak twice. But the portage was not bad at all. We walked a few meters and get back into the yak to continue. After a little more than one hour we arrived at the Poe Springs area. Poe Springs is an Alachua County Park. I wanted to go in and see the spring but since my snorkeling gear was in the van did not go. Did not want to see what I was going to miss.

Soft Shell turtle with a cousin

Santa Fe River Bald Eagle
The highlight of our trip came after leaving the Poe Springs area. This is where the river opens up a bit and it forms some small ponds where we saw a bass jumping. Then another one, and another one. Heck!!!! Wifey was trying to catch a fish out of the water when I saw a big bird in a tree at the West bank.It was a bald eagle and it was in a perfect position for pics since we had a clear shot. We did enjoy the view while it lasted. The eagle was perched no more than a minute or two. I think we bothered it. But we came out with a couple of nice pics. That was not the only eagle, or at least not the first eagle sighting of the day. We saw another one on our return trip. A nice couple going down river at that time told us the eagle returned last week. They also told us there was a nest nearby and last year the pair had four eaglets. Four? Wow. Do not think that is normal. I do think that the eagles were not the same since the first one seemed to be bigger than the other.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Belted Kingfisher
Did You Know That? Belted Kingfishers were abundant on the Santa Fe River on this paddle. Several of them flew in front of us doing their characteristic chirping that seems to be like a mocking laugh, specially when you have them in the lens of your camera and it lift up at the very last moment. Looking for information about the Belted Kingfisher found out that, like the owls, Belted Kingfishers regurgitate pellets of bones, scales and indigestible materials.Kingfishers escape from predators such as owls, and hawks by diving into the water at the last minute. We saw several of them trying to fish, flying at great speed and crashing into the water. One of them actually caught a fish. It was very cool to see that. The nests of Belted Kingfishers are horizontal tunnels excavated in the river banks. Those tunnels also slope uphill. It is believed that Belted Kingfishers do that to protect the chicks from flooding since the chick will survive in the air pocket of the elevated tunnel.

Blue-Winged Teal Ducks

Tri-Colored Heron
We paddled by Lily Springs, where I talk to my wife about Naked Ed. She had no interest on taking a pic of Ed and we kept going. At 3PM we arrived at Rum Island where we turned back. The traffic on the river was light. We saw a group of four kayakers twice. Once on our way down and one more time on our way up. I have no idea where we did paddle by them. Maybe they did enter Lily Springs. A Dad with a couple of kids in two kayaks and a motor with an electric motor. An eagle arrived at the area where we saw one earlier in the day as we paddled by. Not sure if it is the same one or a mate of the first one. The second one seemed smaller than the first but who knows.

Juvenile Solitary Sandpiper

More pics of what we saw today...

Carolina Wren
Bald Eagle

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Anhinga(female)

Cormorant

Blue-Winged Teal Duck

Soft Shell Turtle

Wood Stork

Belted Kingfisher

Goat...Yes...A goat

Turtle

Snowy Egret and Ibis

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Santa Fe River Flora

Spotted Sandpiper

Ibis


Left many pics in the files but cannot post them all. So for more pics from this trip check here: Santa Fe River. There are only a few now but will post more as the week goes by. Just have to make a selection and it is not easy to discard some of the pics we have.

UPDATE!!!! 9/21...The pics were downloaded to the album. Lots of pics. Hope you like them.

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


Santa Fe River








5 comments:

  1. Not baaa--d.
    Sorry, I can't resist a bad pun.

    By the way, "Naked" Ed, is discreet. At least when I've visited his Spring.

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  2. We are heading to the Santa Fe in Oct. can't wait! We also want to paddle Fanning Springs to Manatee Springs. Was the current bad going back up stream??? Loved the pictures!

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  3. Lori,
    The current was not bad going up stream.

    Master Dave,
    Wifey did not want to take a chance. She had enough of naked guys with the incident at the Econ a couple of weeks ago.
    I assume the baaa~~~d is because the goat. Have to tell you that it was sad. We saw it in one side of the river and then at the other side on our way up. It was wet and trapped between two logs. A dead goat was near it trapped in the same way but closer to the river. We stopped and released her(do not ask how do I know). Weird site...there was a carcass of another goat in the area.

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  4. Thanks for the terrific pics. It is always fun to see what others see. Loved the soft shell turtle pic. I will post your blog link on Our Santa Fe River Facebook page.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. Glad you liked the pics.

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