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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wekiva River(Upper)

Swallow-Tailed Kite

A few weeks ago someone suggested that the paddle on the upper Wekiva River to Little Wekiva River was a good one. I had never done it so today went for it. Did put in at Wilson's Landings and headed South on the Wekiva River at 9:00AM. Well, good news and bad news. Bad news first; Did not find the entrance to the Little Wekiva River. Made it all the way to the Buffalo Tram Primitive Camp Site. Or did over paddle the entrance or still had ways to go. But I have paddled from Wekiwa Springs to Buffalo Tram and do not remember seeing the entrance to Little Wekiva River. To make things worst, only a few of the pics came back good since my wife did not come with me. Good news was still a nice paddle and now I do have an excuse to buy a GPS ASAP. The following pic was taken on my way to the river on CR419. There is a tree near HWY 417 where an eagle can be spotted almost on a daily basis. This time the eagle was not there but this juvenile was in the nearby tree. Mom, or Dad, flew by while I was there and caught the young eagle's attention while I shoot this pic.

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Put In / Take Out: Wilson's Landings at 387 Malekean Dr, Sanford, FL. This place it is not far away from our usual put in spot when kayaking the Wekiva River; Katie's Landings. But Wilson's is at the South side of the SR46 bridge, while Katie's is in the North side at maybe 1.5 miles down river. There is no charge for using the facilities, I was expecting a payment as there is at Katie's. There is an area for dropping the canoe/ kayaks which is at a pretty good distance from the water. If you ask me Katie's Landings is a better and easier put in but I am no expert. There were no cars when I arrived at 8:45. No one in the water in the wide section of the river in front of Wilson's Landings. Lots of birds flying up and down river and a welcome party of Moorhens and Coots welcomed me in this expedition.


Little Blue Heron
This section of the river is wide but it narrows as you approach Wekiva Falls, a popular camping area. If I am not wrong I think they rent kayaks there too. Then the river stays narrow for a while, then you reach an open area, narrows again, opens again, get the idea. It was here when the best part of the paddle happened. Heard the distinctive sound of a Swallowed-Tailed Kite. Found it circling high in the sky and tried to shoot some pics that did not come good because the distance. Since did not know at the moment kept shooting until lost the kite. Then heard it again but this time 5 Swallow-Tailed Kites crossed in front of me going West. Too high for a decent pic, which I tried anyways. Then heard the sound again but this time it came in front of me to the East bank of the river. Was lucky enough to spot between the branches a Swallow-Tailed Kite flying in my direction. Changed the camera to a setting my wife says is the best one to catch birds in flight, pointed the camera to where I thought was going to show up and held my breath. As the kite showed up flying on top of the tree tops, as they usually do, did press the button halfway to focus while following the bird and when it was sharp in the camera, pressed all the way down and started shooting like crazy. Only a few of the pics came back good but it was enough to make me feel good about this trip.

Swallow-Tailed Kite

Upper Wekiva River Turtle
The rest of the trip did not result in spectacular wildlife encounters. I was hoping for a deer, maybe a bear, but did not see any of it.  Every time there was a fork in the river paddled to the East side trying to find Little Wekiva River. One nice thing this section of the Wekiva has is the continuous changes from closed to open sections. I counted three of these transitions, being the open areas more wildlife prone. Maybe because it was my first time in this part of the river, found the scenery to be beautiful. Saw nobody else on my way up river other than a guy fishing before the first open area. That was not the case on my way down when motor boats and kayakers were the norm. Heard a Green Heron making a sound that seemed to be the one a little cat would make and just after this sighting came to a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron that had no problems posing for pics.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Did You Know That? Swallow-Tailed Kites are almost always seen in the air, feed entirely on the wing, primary on insects, lizards, frogs, snakes, and small birds. They drink on the wing like a swallow, swooping low to snatch water from the surface of the river or lake. Swallow-Tailed Kites arrive in Florida from South America by late February to mid March.You will see them carrying sticks, moss and other nesting material to their chosen nesting site, which they built in the top of one of the tallest trees in a pine or a cypress stand. After the young fledge, the adults and young birds fly south again, first gathering in communal roosts in South Florida before migrating to South America. Fisheating Creek, near Lake Okeechobee, contained near 2,000 birds. You can differentiate the young from the adults by how deep is the fork in the tail. Our post on Pellicer Creek has pics of a young and an adult Swallow-Tailed Kites and you can see the difference.

Swallow-Tailed Kite

Female Anhinga in breeding plumage. Notice the blue ring around her eye.
That  is the key.
The open areas of the river are a prime Osprey habitat. Came to many ospreys and their nests in those sections. Also heard and saw Red Shouldered Hawks. I was trying to get some pics of a pair of hawks when saw it was almost noon. That made three hours in the water at the moment. The nice lady that mentioned the Little Wekiva River said that it was maybe three miles up river from Wekiva Falls. Knowing that I am not the fastest paddler on the water it was my feeling that was supposed to be close but did not know how close. Decide to push it for 30 more minutes before turning around and was 15 minutes into it when saw a familiar area. It was Buffalo Tram Primitive Camp Site, where I have paddled to in the past but out of Wekiwa Springs. A little dissapointed stopped there to stretch my legs and back thinking that the camp was empty, nobody was there and no tent was seen. But then saw a machete and a pair of sandals near the water. Also heard voices so started my paddle down river thinking how in the world I missed the Little Wekiva River.


The paddle down river was not even close to the one up river. At least three motor boats, one of them full of kids going down river looking for Wekiva Falls. They were noisy and to make things worst, were playing with water filled balloons. Picked up two of the balloons floating on the river. Maybe because was tired or because was upset for not finding Little Wekiva River, did not stop too many times on my way down. Had an extended adventure when turned into a blocked area and a few pic stops at the beginning, mostly for Ospreys and Hawks. But at one time decided that it was enough and started paddling until made it to Wilson's Landings at 10 before 3PM. "I need a GPS", was my thought when put the yak on the mini-van and started my drive back home. Here are more pics of what I saw at the Upper Wekiva River.

Great Egret

Anhinga (Male)


Little Blue Heron

Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron

Great Blue Heron


Anhinga (Juvenile)



Red Shouldered Hawk



Pied-Billed Grebes

Limpkin Taking a Bath

Green Heron

Osprey takes lunch to go


Green Heron

On my way home, and in the same area where saw the Juvenile Bald Eagle in the morning, this time spotted an adult Bald Eagle, maybe the Mom or maybe the Dad. Did not let the chance to pass and stopped for a last set of pics.

Bald Eagle
And that is it for this one. Here is the link for all the pics for this trip: Upper Wekiva River.

Thanks for reading and see you next week on another Views From Our Kayak.

Upper Wekiva River Scene


  1. Therein lies the beauty of digital photography - no waiting days to find out half your photos were crappy. Just zap away the bad ones. And, no expense for processing those lousy shots either. Looks to me like you got some wonderful shots.

    1. You are right. It can be worst than that. However, Less than 30% of the pics survived. Not proud of it. Thank God for digital photography.

  2. But those are great pictures! Somewhere I have a picture of the entrance to Little Wekiva and I'll try to find it. It is almost exactly 3 miles south of Wekiva Falls Resort, so probably about 4 miles from Wilson's. Definitely before Buffalo Tram, and it is easy to miss.

    1. Thanks Joanne. I got lucky with a few. Out of all the pics taken only a few came out good. So I did over paddled Little Wekiva River. I am wondering where was the entrance. Looked at a map and it is not too far from Buffalo Tram. May give it another try one of these days.

  3. I need to paddle that part of the Wekiva before the summer rains. Go to Twin Mounds, where my watch fell in the water my last visit. That midden is rather hard to find, so I bet it is still there. THinking wher eI dropped it is now dry. Twin Mounds is on the right, or west side, behind one on of the islands. Accesss is often blocked by fallen branches.

  4. Chances are. Saw plenty of fallen branches blocking waterways.