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Thursday, December 29, 2011

De Leon Springs - Spring Garden Creek

Downy Woodpecker (most likely)
We went back to the water today, Thursday December 29th. De Leon Springs was our choice and we enjoyed it. It was a nice day. Great and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue, Little Blue, Black Crowned Night, Tri Colored, and Green Herons, Woodpeckers (Hairy & Pileated), Raptors (Eagles, Ospreys, Red Shouldered Hawks), Gators, Manatees, Pie Billed Grebe, Coots, Moorhen, Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Cormorants, Anhingas, Belted Kingfishers, Limpkins, and Turtles. Do not have pics of everything but did enjoy the time trying to get them.
Coot


Put In / Take Out: De Leon Springs State Park.  It is an easy one. The only thing is the concrete ramp. Not good for yaks so we put in to the side where there is enough room in the sand.

Old Sugar Mill House

De Leon Springs dumps its water into Spring Garden Lake, which turns into Spring Garden Creek and empties into Lake Woodruff, so you have options. You can kayak the borders of Spring Garden Lake, if the water level is high enough, or you can kayak Spring Garden Creek, which is what we did.

Cormorant


Manatee swims under our kayak

Even before we put in the show started. A manatee surfaced near the dock. We paddle to the area where we saw it and stayed still. Did not have to wait long before another manatee swam under our kayak. It was one of these moments when I wished to have my UW digital camera, which went dead last summer and not replaced…yet. The way the sun was reflecting in the water made it difficult to see under the water so we had to rely on seeing the shapes or the manatees' ripples. Tired several pics of the manatees surfacing but none of them came back good. We saw the shapes of two manatees coming up and down around us but none was interested enough to come to check. So we decided to continue exploring the lagoon area where the water from De Leon Springs falls. We checked the edges in the shaded section and then went to where the sunlight was hitting. It was then when I spotted a tall tree with a silhouette of a big bird.


Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle...Sorry. Too far for to shoot good pics at this one
My wife checked the shape on the tree with the camera lens and told me that it was an eagle. From where I was saw a second shape and mentioned it to her, who then double checked and said there were two eagles in the tall tree. If you go to De Leon Springs check for green tall tree in the East bank. It is evident since all the trees around it are losing their leaves and that one is way taller. We were able to hear the eagles communicating with each other. It is the second time we hear that, the first time near the Wekiva River. It is a sound very similar to the one osprey make but a little softer and eagles do that when mates are trying to strengthen their bond. It was also cool to see it flying and even more, to see two of them performing acrobatics high in the sky. Sadly, as hard as we tried, were not able to get better pick of the bald eagles flying or at the tree.

Black Crowned Night Heron


Anhinga

The time on the Spring Garden Creek was productive. Wifey had several pics chances in a beautiful, and I mean super beautiful day; blue skies, not a cloud in sight, not hot, not cold, and a calm breeze. The conditions were perfecto be out in the kayak. Even the traffic in the creek was light. Four motor boats in four hours in the water is not bad. The only thing was that out of the four boats, only one was considered enough to slow down when going near us. Also saw the tour boat that has the park as its center of operations. Ah…and an air boat that decided to show up five minutes before we saw it, if you know what I mean. I know it is a source of income for the air boats owners but I have to ask; what in the blue sky you expect to see when riding one of those monstrosities? The sound is loud enough I was able to hear it way before we saw it. Rant off. 



Osprey


Great Blue Heron

At the area of the old pontoon boat that is now near the Hontoon Island State Park we took a break. Have to admit I ignored the Area Closed. Hunt in progress (or something like that) sign posted there. I had to stretch so we stopped there. In my defense, I do not remember not seeing that sign in one of my trips here and also my left leg was going numb. This area is shortly after the Manatee Zone sign at the creek. We had a snack under the watch of the hundreds of coots in the zone and started our return paddle after 20 minutes. We were probably half way when we heard and saw the air boat I mentioned above. The pilot was kind enough to slow down on his way down and went on the opposite side over the vegetation on his way up.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Did You Know That?  The Downy Woodpecker eats foods that larger woodpeckers cannot reach, such as insects living on or in the stems of weeds. You may see them hammering at goldenrod galls to extract the fly larvae inside. Woodpeckers don’t sing songs, but they drum loudly against pieces of wood or metal to achieve the same effect. People sometimes think this drumming is part of the birds’ feeding habits, but it isn’t. In fact, feeding birds make surprisingly little noise even when they’re digging vigorously into wood. Downy Woodpeckers have been discovered nesting inside the walls of buildings. The oldest known Downy Woodpecker lived to be at least 11 years 11 months old. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are very similar and it can be difficult to differentiate one from the other. The Hairy Woodpeckers are bigger and have a larger bill.

Tri Colored Heron
And now more pics. First let us go flying...

Great Egret

Limpkin

Black Crowned Night Heron

Glossy Ibis

Belted Kingfisher

Osprey

Osprey

Or if you prefer, take a dip...

Gator sunning at Spring Garden Creek

Gator does not like being photographed

Gator goes under

Gator is still going under

And finally more typical pics...

Little Blue Heron

Three for one...Great Egret, Moorhen, and Coot

Moorhen

Osprey

Osprey

Pied Billed Grebe

Pileated Woodpecker (sorry...too far for a decent pic)

Red Shouldered Hawk

Snowy Egret

Tri-Colored Heron

Downy Woodpecker

Great Blue Heron

Eagle mates (again..sorry. The tree was a little too far for a good pic)


Limpkin
Great Egret

Black Crowned Night Heron

Gator

Anhinga

Gator

Unknown bird.

Glossy Ibis

Belted Kingfisher

Gator

Gator

Gator in the hydrilla

Great Egret

Great Egret

Anhinga (female)
Some scenic pics...

Glossy Ibis' formation

Coots flying away

De Leon Springs area

Entrance to Spring Garden Creek looking from the Spring Garden Lake

Scenic view from another small canal

And that is all for this one. I have one more day of paddling for this "vacation week". My options are, so far, Haulover Canal, Econlockhatchee River, Blackwater Creek (if my permit is still good), or Alexander Creek. There is a chance that it will be none of the above. Do not know yet. Here is the link for the Photobucket album, De Leon Springs - Spring Garden Creek,  if you wish to take a look. Thanks for reading. See you soon on the next Views From Our Kayak.

Scenic view of Spring Garden Creek from a small canal

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