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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blue Spring(Snake Creek, Hontoon Dead & St. Johns River)

Black Crowned Night Heron

First paddle trip of 2012 and what a nice one it was. All the beauty that the waters in and around Blue Spring can offer. Manatees, eagle, gators, and more. After three days of really cold weather thought that it was going to be a good idea to go to Blue Spring, a manatee sanctuary. My wife loves manatees and this place offers a great perspective with the clear greenish waters of the spring, which serves as a sanctuary for the marine mammals from November 15th to March 1st. That means that Blue Spring Run is closed to all activities, except observing the manatees from the Boardwalk. Here are some of the views we had from the boardwalk.

Manatees at Blue Spring Run

Manatee sanctuary at Blue Spring

Manatees huddle

Manatee near the boardwalk

Boardwalk at Blue Spring State Park

Put In / Take Out: Blue Spring State Park in Orange City. For information about the location and entrance fees please check this link: Blue Spring State Park. When you put in here you are in the waters of the St. Johns River. If you rent a canoe or a kayak at the park, the concessionary will provide you a map of the area. There are many options about to where to go when you kayak here. Today we kayaked Snake Creek, Hontoon Dead River, and the St. Johns River. I am not going to mention times because it will not do any good. We are slow paddlers and in addition to that, we take our sweet time to get pics so do not use as a reference on how long it takes to go from point A and B because it will do you no good.

Gray Catbird

Blue Spring Run

We arrived at the gate of Blue Spring State Park at 8:45AM. The sign in the Ranger’s boot said that there were 280 manatees in the run the day before. My wife wanted to spend some time looking at the manatees. We stayed there for almost one hour walking and stopping at the observations deck to see the several manatees in the Blue Spring Run. Two volunteers were counting the manatees and told us there were over 200 manatees at the time. I thought that was a little vague. Over 200 can be 201 to 299 so to be nice and politically correct I will say that the number was 250. Regardless, it is a special experience to see so many manatees all together in one location. The pics are not good enough to tell you how impressive it is.

Manatee at the Blue Spring Run

Great Blue Heron

We finally put in at 9:55 and headed North in the St. Johns River. There is a small island west of the end of French Avenue and it is a good place to see wildlife. While trying to get a pic of a Little Blue Heron a pair of Ibis flew by, and then three more, and a bunch followed that one, and after that bunch it seemed like all the birds in the forest were flying in alarm. I looked up and an eagle, a juvenile, was flying around like intimidating the rest of the wildlife. Red Shouldered Hawks screamed and the Ibis left in a hurry. The young eagle seemed to be imposing its reign of terror. It was nice to see an eagle flying like that. Most of the times we see eagles they are perched or flying too high. This one flew around for a while and gave us a nice show.

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Great Egret

After that we left and headed south in the river towards the mouth of Snake Creek. If you depart from the State Park, go south in the St. Johns River. There is an island where you need to go west bordering the west bank of the river. You will find the entrance of Snake Creek after the first bend. Our time in Snake Creek was relaxing. Had the creek for ourselves and while it was a challenge to obtain a pic of wildlife, it was fun. The birds were skittish and flew away from us without giving a chance to get close. But wifey made the most of the few chances she had. The confluence of Snake Creek and Hontoon Dead River was on sight when we took a break and came out of the kayak. The boat was getting heavier by the minute and hard to handle. I had to drain the water out of it so we stop for a few minutes.

Red Bellied Woodpeckers

Bird houses in the canal
Hontoon Dead River borders the west of Hontoon Island. The boat traffic is heavy in this part of the river and today was not an exception. While we did not see anyone in Snake Creek we did encounter several motor boats in Hontoon Dead River. We headed south paddling to a small canal that connects Hontoon Dead River with the St. Johns. My wife calls that canal the Bird House canal because there are several bird houses hanging from the trees. She wants to build one and for us to come here one day and hang it from one of the trees. Do not know what to do about that since not I am not a fan of disturbing nature. But it looks nice when you paddle in that canal and see all the little houses there. There are bird houses from different states of of the nation.

Bird House

Is this an omen?

Bird House

Did You Know That? For this Did You Know That? I want to share this link with you. It provides good information about manatees and how to interact with them. It is very interesting and has a lot of good hints, suggestions and rules: Save The Manatee


Here are more pics of what we saw today…

Black Crowned Night Heron

Little Blue Heron

Wild Turkeys

Snake Creek scenery

Juvenile Little Blue Heron


Great Egret

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse

Nesting Great Blue Heron


Red Shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Ibis

Belted Kingfisher

Wood Stork
Eastern Phoebe


Flying Ibis


Manatees in Blue Spring Run


Blue Spring Run

Snowy Egret


Miss adventures of a cat fish...

Oh snap!!!!

There is no escape...

.And the Cormorant...

Finishes the job...gulp!!!!

The park was completely full when we left at 3:30PM. The line to enter was so long that a state law enforcer officer was controlling the entrance at French Avenue. So, if you plan to visit the park try to arrive early. It gets crowded these days since the congregation of manatees in the run is a huge attraction in Central Florida.


Snake Creek

And this is it for this one. Thanks for reading and see hope to see you next week…Ahhh...A little late but Happy New Year!!!!! See you soon for another Views From Our Kayak!!!!!


  1. My favorite photo is the Packer birdhouse.

  2. Really? Who would have thought that? They have a tough one coming this weekend against the Giants. Good luck.

  3. Wow! Beautiful shot of the Night-Heron in flight!

  4. I'm saving this one in the vacation "to do" file

  5. Love Blue Spring! I hated that the alligator had to be put down.