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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chassahowitzka River

Horned Grebe
I know what you are thinking. Really? A pic of a grebe as the opening pics for this post? It was that kind of day but it is the first time we see and have the chance to take a pic of this kind of bird so there it is. We went to the Chaz trying to save what was a really tough day at Crystal River. Driving South on US19 saw the building of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. Called my son and asked him to check the post on this blog of the Chaz, and to tell me the address. Plugged it into the GPS since did not remember how to get it from the top of my head. We were less than 2 miles away. The rest of the history is here.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Put In / Take OutChassahowitzka Campground: 8600 W. Miss Maggie Drive, Homosassa. The cost is $5 per vehicle. I am glad this information is included in this blog. It worked fine for us.

Little Blue Heron

Horned Grebe
We put in around 12:30 and knew that did not have too much time. Based on that the plan was to explore a couple of the many spring fed creeks that are tributaries of the Chassahowitzka River, The Chaz from now on. The first creek we explored was the Salt Creek. The entrance of this one is North of a group of small islands that split the Chaz down river from the put in. We saw otters in our first trip and I was just hoping for the same. It did not happen but at least the wind was not much of a problem since the islands sheltered us from it. We entered the creek with a little help of the wind on our backs that it was strong enough to negate the current. While the wildlife was not abundant the peace, we did not see anyone else, and the scenery were good enough for us. An osprey decided to tease my wife flying all over us, or maybe let the wind tossed her around, but it put a heck of show. Somehow she thought the osprey was looking at her while she was taking the photos. We decided to turn around at the area where the wide part of the creek ended. I am not sure if we could make it all the way to the spring but did not even try. We had another creek to explore and the clock was ticking. On our way down we saw the Horned Grebe of our opening pic. Wifey did not know what it was but the beautiful bird was pic friendly and did not dive down but just swam casually before us.


After that we headed to Potter's Creek. The paddle to the creek was tough because the wind. We tried to make it short to the creek but got wet when made the turn. So kept going to the west, waited for the wind to give us a break, and then turned to Potter's Creek with the wind on our backs. The pic chances were none and wifey took as a challenge to obtain pics of a butterfly. No kayakers on the creek but a motor boat carrying a family. Made it all the way to the end of the creek and turned around against a strong wind in our faces now. It did not get easier once we entered The Chaz, where we repeated the same process and paddle more into the river until the wind gave us a break and then made the turn up river. Once we had the bow of the yak pointing up river it was a little bit easier, except for the boats that went by us at full speed, creating more wakes than we really wanted to see. We were waiting for one of these set of wakes to go away when my wife pointed down to the water and told me..."a manatee". And there it was, no...there they were. Two torpedo like shapes swam under our kayak. We did not have a chance for pics, when manatees are swimming with the current behind them can hold their breath for a long time, but at least saw manatees. That is more than we can say about Crystal River in the same day.

Tri Colored Heron
After the manatees we kept going up river and made it back to the take out. It was maybe 4PM, maybe 4:30, when we had our yak in top of the minivan. We felt tired and our arms were sore. I have to admit my disappointment to the kind of day we had but have no one to blame but me. Did not do my homework and acted on an impulse, rather on using my common sense. That will not happen again.

Brown Pelican

Here are more pics of what we saw at The Chaz. We missed a pic of three Swallow Tail Kites, which are back to our area.

Tri-Colored Heron


Great Blue Heron

Horned Grebe

Did You Know That? (From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site) The Horned Grebe regularly eats some of its own feathers, enough that its stomach usually contains a matted plug of them. This plug may function as a filter or may hold fish bones in the stomach until they can be digested. The parents even feed feathers to their chicks to get the plug started early. 
Horned Grebe
Like most grebes, the small chicks of the Horned Grebe frequently ride on the backs of their swimming parents. The young ride between the wings on the parent's back, and may even go underwater with them during dives. 
A sleeping or resting Horned Grebe puts its neck on its back with its head off to one side and facing forward. It keeps one foot tucked up under a wing and uses the other one to maneuver in the water. Having one foot up under a wing makes it float with one "high" side and one "low" side.
A Horned Grebe courtship display involves a pair racing vertically across the water side by side with wings partly open and grasses or weeds held on their bills. Because Horned Grebes require a running start in open water to take flight, they may become trapped if surface water freezes rapidly overnight. Well, in Florida they do not have that problem.



Osprey, and yes, it is going vertical

And that is all for this one. Not the best kayaking trip but tried to make the most of it. Here is the link, The Chaz, to the Photobucket album. I still to have download the pics from this trip but will do it this week. Thanks for reading and hope to see you next week on another Views From Our Kayak.


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