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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lower Wekiva River from Katie's Landing

Juvenile Bald Eagle
Today was one of those days you can never forget...

After a short recess today we went back to the water Saturday October 22. It was my wife's idea. I have been a little blue due to a situation that may end my kayaking days, at least in Florida. My wife decided that enough was enough and to Katie’s Landings we went to kayak one of our favorite places; the Lower Wekiva River. It turned out to be one of the best trips we have had. Several eagles sightings and witnessed a heck of an aerial show, that in addition to the beauty of the Lower Wekiva River scenery.

Little Blue Heron

Put In/ Take Out: Katie’s Landings. Check this link to our first post about this place and you will find the information about Katie's Landing.

We arrived early to Katie’s Landings, at least early for us. Our yak was in the water at 8:30AM and spent 30 minutes in the area just in front of Katie’s. I have mentioned before that usually you will see many forms of wildlife there. Today was not different so as we started paddling an otter surfaced with a catfish in its mouth. Wifey tried desperately to shoot a pic showing the otter and the fish at the same time but it was impossible for her. The otter disappeared under the vegetation. Bon appetite!!!!!! We circled the area where it went down thinking that it was going to surface at the other side but nope, it did not. It is a shame we ended up with better pics of the catfish, which I deleted.

Tri-Colored Heron

Pileated Woodpecker
Time was a problem today. We had to pick our daughter at 1PM since she was taking the ACT. Because of that we agreed to turn around at 10:30 wherever we were at the time, and kayak the area in front of Katie’s once more before leaving. Sounded like a plan to me and that is what we did. The river was not crowded. Only one motor boat and two kayakers. The boat we saw it on our way down river and the kayakers on our way up. A group of five(or maybe six) were putting in at Katie's as we arrived. That reminds me something. The driver of the van that had the kayaks'trailer left it right in the middle of the way besides the put in. What would happen if everybody plays the ignorant card and ignore the rules? Anyways...Back to the paddle. It was the perfect day on the perfect place. Was not cold, the wind was not strong and the Wekiva River offering all it can offer. Lots of little birds, one of them a seasonal visitor featured in the pic below. We started our paddle back just short of the high grounds that is a popular landing site for boats and kayakers, just after seeing our first(and biggest) of a total of four gators we saw during the trip.

Eastern Phoebe

Osprey(top) vs Eagle(bottom)
A few minutes after that, in an open straight area in the river, I saw an osprey flying high. Circling the area was also a big bird, bigger than the osprey. The osprey was flying over the big bird and sometimes it dove and made contact with it in midair. As their issue brought them closer I realized that the unknown big bird had a predominantly white head and when saw it flying over me was able to see that it was a young bald eagle. Wifey was able to shoot several pics at the eagle that was joined in the dance by two more eagles, an adult and another juvenile with the same characteristics of the first one. The three of them started circling and climbing higher. The osprey, maybe because it was outnumbered, decided to leave in a hurry. Call it whatever you want to call it but we were in awe at the sight we had on top of us. I do not think that is a show you see every day. After that display wifey mentioned that she now needed to take pics of a deer to complete her day. I added a black bear, which she does not want to see never ever. I was hoping for a see a manatee as I have seen in my previous two trips to the river. But no deer, no black bear and no manatee today. Still was a heck of a day.


Did You Know That?
Eagle pair just out of Katie's Landings
Eagles do not have vocal cords. They make high-pitched, shrill squeaking and screeching sounds via the air passes the bones in their neck. The sound is created in the area where the windpipe is separated going to the lungs. The eagle's calls are made to deepen the bond between married eagles or to warn predators not to pass their territory. The screaming sounds of eagles you hear in the movies are actually those of the red tailed hawk used to provide a dramatic effect. So we can assume that we witnessed an eagle marriage today. Have to say that it was a great experience to be able to hear the eagles and now that it can be confirmed eagles make those sounds to bond with their mates...well...we only missed the wedding cake. Congrats to the newly weds then.

Wood Ducks

Red Shouldered Hawk
After the aerial display we spent the rest of the trip upstream talking about the eagles. Stopped here and there for pics and once trying to spot a Black Crowned Night Heron, which we did not get since the bird went hiding deeper in the forest. But the real thrill was when we arrived at Katie’s Landing at 11:40. A bird crossed in front of us heading to the west side of the river. I was able to see it had a white tail and told my wife. She did not have time to shoot a pic and the eagle went to perch on a dead tree. As it was making a noise similar to the noise an osprey would make, another eagle flew by and perched in the same tree. Two for one!!!! How cool is that? Wifey tried to get a good pic but the eagles were too far for a good pic. As we shoot pics to a Wood Stork in the area the eagled left because they were not at the tree as we put our yak in the minivan. But as we drove on Wekiva Park Dr I saw another eagle flying low. While we pulled to the side another eagle joined it on the tree. I do not know if they were the same two eagles we saw minutes before but these ones were closer and wifey had a lot of pic chances. We tried to record a video of them making osprey like sounds( short and fast cry) but for some reason did not come out good. Sorry about that but will have to settle for the pics.


Here are more pics of what we saw at the Lower Wekiva River...

Juvenile Little Blue Heron



Scene of the Lower Wekiva River


Juvenile Moorhen



Belted Kingfisher

Wood Stork

Eagles...Two for One

What do you think about that tree to build a nest?

Mr. and Mrs Eagle

Great Egret

Great Blue Heron

Belted Kingfisher




Gray CatBird

And that is all for this one. For more pics from this and past trips to Lower Wekiva River click on this link. Thanks for reading and hope to see you later this week on another Views From Our Kayak.

Lower Wekiva River (looking South from Katie's Landings)


  1. I'm so glad you had a great morning on the water--paddling from Katie's is one of my favorite things to do. Great pictures! Otters and eagles, wow. I enjoy your weblog immensely, and really hope that your situation is resolved and you're able to continue paddling and posting these wonderful trips.

  2. By the way, if someone is illegally parked and causing an inconvenience for others, please notify Wekiwa Springs State Park at 407 884-2009. Also call them (or the sheriff's dept) if you see airboats anywhere on the Wekiva. They are short staffed and may or may not be able to respond immediately, but it helps them to know what is going on so they can perhaps increase patrols where these things are happening.

    For wildlife violations, call 888 404-3922. I spoke with one of their officers yesterday and he said they really depend on the concerned public to report things to them as they obviously can't be everywhere all the time.

  3. I just would have slashed the tires. Which would be stupid, as then the launch would stay blocked.

    If you do relocate, I have an extra kayak if you come back to visit.

  4. We will know more early next year. Thanks for the offer. I will not forget that.