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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rainbow River

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Saturday October 29th kayaked the Rainbow River and this time was not a solo like the first one. Woke up asking myself where to go because the forecast had all Central Florida and the I95 corridor under water. Decided to check the weather for other areas and saw that North Florida was clear. But we kayaked the Santa Fe River not so long ago and that was ruled out. Too long of a drive and it was too late already. Then saw a clear spot in the weather map: Inverness. What is in that area? Rainbow River is close enough and we decided to go there. It was a little late at 9:00AM but the other choice, staying at home, was unacceptable.

Wood Ducks

Put In/ Take Out: The first time I kayaked Rainbow River did put in at the Dunnellon City Hall just because my Plan A, an area near the CR484 bridge over the Rainbow River a mile or less East, was being improved. This time decided to go there again, the CR484 bridge because did not have too much time and also because my wife was not going to like a long paddle against the current. The construction is over now and the name is Blue Run of Dunnellon Park. There is not charge and the access to the river is not bad neither in this location. As a reference, there is a place renting kayaks in the North side of the bridge and there is also a restaurant. The pic shows a sign just in front of the park. We entered, unloaded the yak, and then parked in one of the spots. There was only one other van in the lot.

Little Blue Heron

Eagle over the Rainbow River
We were in the water at 11:20AM. We started paddling up stream under a gray sky and a strong wind coming from the North. Did not see a kayak, a canoe, a boat or a tuber until the first hour and a half into our paddle. The whole river is idle speed/no wake zone. In that aspect this paddle was an improvement from the previous one when saw many of them. For this one I do not think we saw more than 5 boats, no tubers, and only a few kayakers, most of them after passing KP Hole, a Marion County park. It was in the area in front of KP Hole when we saw a couple of otters playing in the East bank of the river. I do remember seeing otters near this spot the first trip here. We missed an otter pic chance earlier in the paddle and wifey was not this one to go away so we followed the otters while they played and swam out of the river. While we followed the otters am eagle appeared high in the sky flying East to West. What a dilemma!!! Eagle or otters? My wife decided to go for both and thanks to the eagle circling a couple of times was able to shoot pics at both.

Otters on the Rainbow River

Juvenile Little Blue Heron
Did You Know That? Our star this time is a bird we see often while paddling: The Little Blue Heron. I cannot remember a kayaking trip when we came out with no pics of a Little Blue Heron. There is one of them, adult or juvenile, posing for pics. Little Blue Herons do not have long showy plumes in breeding adult plumage. So it escaped the serious population declines from feather hunting for the millinery trade. The juveniles Little Blue Herons are not blue but white. They use that fact to blend in with the bigger Snowy and Great Egrets in what is believed to be like a protection deal. The juvenile little blue can catch more fish in company of, for example, a Snowy Egret than when alone. The Snowy Egrets tolerates better the company of the juvenile than the adult little blue heron.

Belted Kingfisher

Rainbow Springs State Park fall
It took almost two hours to reach the Rainbow Springs State Park area. There we paid $4.00(two per person) at the honor box and sat down near their kayak/canoe launch ramp to have a quick lunch. After eating our sandwich we walked to the falls inside the state park. The falls are not natural and are remnants of the original attractions when Rainbow Springs was a private amusement park. The area around the springs was a major source of phosphate early in the 20th century. The falls were built using material from the phosphate mines. There was a zoo, gardens, a monorail, an aviary, a rodeo show, and even a submarine tour when Rainbow Springs was not own by the state.

Green Heron

After the mini tour inside the state park we started our return trip back to the bridge. With the current in our favor wifey did not have to paddle as much as she did in the first leg of the paddle, when we had also the wind on our faces. The wind did not help us on the return but it did not matter. We enjoyed the return trip admiring the things that we were not able to see on our paddle upstream. Now it was sunny and the beauty of the river was much appreciated. Wifey was impressed with the crystal clear waters and some beautiful houses in the west bank. Will we ever have one like that one? She asked me at one point. We can dream, for the time being. You never know. We arrived at the take out in one hour and fifteen minutes after leaving Rainbow Springs State Park, close to 5PM.

Ibis' Flock

Here are more pics of what we saw today at the Rainbow River...




Eastern Phoebe


Wood Duck

Turtle swims on the Rainbow River
Pied Billed Grebe

Red Shouldered Hawk

Wood Ducks

Great Blue Heron
Great Egret

Great Blue Heron
Belted KingFisher

Unknown Bird

Patriotic Belted KingFisher


Bald Eagle



The one and only gator on the Rainbow River
Belted Kingfisher

Rainbow River Flora

Rainbow Falls at Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow River

Green Heron

Rainbow River

And this is it for this one. The link will take you to more pics of this and past trips to Rainbow River.

Thanks for reading and see you next week.

Rainbow River scene

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