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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Silver River

Black Bear
There are times when you pick the worst possible moment to do something and you still make the most out of it. When we arrived at Ray Wayside Park in Ocala it was as crowded as you can imagine. People all over the put in area, the parking lot for cars without trailers was completely full and no more spots even in the outflow area. The reason was a kayak/canoe race organized by the Competitive Paddle Association of somewhere I cannot remember. We had to wait until the first wave of competitors left to start going and before we left the canal leading to Silver River, had to move to the side because the second wave of competitors. After that it was a very nice day at the Silver River.

Bald Eagle
 Put In/ Take Out: Ray Wayside at Highway 40 in Ocala. Here is a link with detailed information about the location of Ray Wayside Park:

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret
After the competitors left we had the river to ourselves, well, not really. We had to paddle by a large group of kayakers, maybe ten of them, who were led by a guide I have seen before at Silver River. Once we paddled by them, then we had the river for ourselves until the racers came down river. We saw only one motor boat on the river, which was a nice surprise. Thirty minutes into our paddle we came to a monkey troop.  My wife had a field day with them as they performed acrobatics stunts on top and from branches to branches. Of course, it was her first time back to Silver River after the monkey incident we had earlier this year and I was sure we kept our distance from the monkeys. If you have not read it yet, check our first post about Silver River on this blog and you will see what I am talking about. Stayed in the area until we heard the group of kayakers we left behind coming.

Flying Monkey
Let me share with you a few monkey pics before we move on. You come here for the pics anyways so let me do the right thing...

Silver River Monkey
Silver River Rhesus Monkey
Mama Gator
After that it was a nice, easy and quiet paddle. We arrived at the head springs around 1:00PM, paddled around the area, and let the current push us down while we ate some snacks. Did not advance too much because had a strong wind in our face. Once we left the state park area the wind was not much of a problem and we enjoyed a nice ride down river. As a matter of fact my wife enjoyed it better since did not paddle and I took care of moving us and she had the camera ready. There were plenty of pic chances in the afternoon because the sun came out and it was beautiful. In the morning it was not as sunny since many times we went under cloud cover. The gators were all over the place and we saw several, and I mean several baby gators. At one vegetation mat we counted about 6 little ones in one side and about 4 more just 20 feet away. We even heard them chirping and while wifey had her moment with the camera I did watch for mama gator.

Do you see what I see?
Alligator snapping turtle
At the park canoe and kayak ramp we stopped to stretch our legs. My wife had a conversation with a lady that came by while I drained the water inside the yak. After I saw the amount of water that was inside it, was surprised we did not sink. Have to do something to fix our orange sit on top boat.  She also spent some time taking pics of an alligator snapping turtle. Some months ago we took a pic of one in this same location. Here it is the pic we took that day:alligator snapping turtle. I am wondering if it is the same one and it probably is. No underwater pics this time since our UW camera died last summer. There was also a small gator that was not afraid of coming close to the ramp while we were there. Most likely is used to humans feeding him because it is a small one and “looks so cute and funny” as my wife said. Had to remind her that the cute little gator will grow to a huge mean big one and then, there could be trouble.

Belted Kingfisher
Gator and canoeists

We made it back to Ray Wayside close to 4:30PM and started our drive back home. My wife decided to keep the camera on hand because we have seen deer on the side of the road two or three times. That decision turned to be a great one. At Highway 40, where the East bound lanes turn into two for a passing lane we saw a bear crossing the highway during one of our trips. My wife was looking at the pics in the camera when decided to take a break of that task just after we arrived at that area. Less than thirty seconds into that area wifey started saying “bear…bear…bear”. I looked to the side of the road after the first time and saw a black shadow at the edge of the vegetation to my right. Looked in my rear view mirror and no car was near so pulled to the side of the road and stopped about 100 or 120 feet  east of the bear. Wifey was so excited and nervous that tried to shoot a pic with the camera lens cover still on. She finally was able to gather herself and shoot a couple of pics.

Wood Duck
Black Bear
Did you know that? The Florida Black Bear is a cousin of the American Black Bear and it is predominantly nocturnal and elusive, except when mating. It is very reclusive and does not seek human contact. There has never been a recorded human death in Florida caused by a Florida Black Bear. In fact, since the beginning of the 20th century there have not been any recorded incidents of serious human injury. Myths about the ferocious mother bear protecting her cubs are just myths. A mother bear is actually more likely to flee a human encounter and leave her cubs behind than to stand and defend them. Just be wise and do not test this statement. Such an encounter would almost certainly lead to the eventual death of the young cubs since they are totally dependent on their mother for care. That being said, never go near an occupied bear den space, and always gives a denning mother bear a wide berth to protect her cubs.

Here are more pics of what we saw today. Check our Photobucket album for more pics of the Silver River from this and past trips.

A small sample of what we saw today...

Red Shouldered Hawk

Little Blue Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron
Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron
Eastern Phoebe

Turtle vs Gator...or something like that

Gator on the Silver River
Tri Colored Heron

Juvenile Little Blue Heron
Baby Gator

Flying Great Egret
Going down!!!!

Monkeying at the Silver River
Here they come...

...and there they go

Bald Eagle

Now this is all for this one. We hope you enjoy the pics as much as us. See you soon on another Views  From Our Kayak.

Silver River


  1. Lovely bear!! Thanks for posting---it was well worth the effort, for me at least.

  2. I appreciate your efforts with the bear shot. Such an exciting sight. I don't blame you for going to all the trouble.

  3. Over on Green Wave, you wrote "One of the best paddle trips we have had" I read that, and thought, "this is going to be good". It is. And more.

  4. Thanks to all. I do think that this is one of top paddle trips we have had. I know the bear pic is not from the kayak but it complemented what was a very good day at the river.

    I was really upset when found out the file was "corrupted and cannot be viewed". My wife almost cried.