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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Silver River

Anhinga and chicks

Wood Ducks
Had a feeling that it was going to be a disappointing paddle at Silver River during the first hour. Pics chances were rare and there was a lot of motor boat traffic on the river. Then it picked up and if I have to rank this one, would rank it on the top 10 paddles. It is a shame wifey did not come with me. She would have loved shooting pics at the nests I saw at the Silver Springs State Park area and I would not have had my hands full. Had to fight a strong breeze to obtain some of the pics and was not a picnic. But regardless of the changing weather conditions had an incredibly good time, around 7 hours, in the Silver River. Saw a lot of wildlife in a day that was almost perfect: not too hot, not cold at all. Lot of traffic in the river, motor boats and kayaks, but still pleasant.

Great Blue Heron

Put In / Take Out: To paddle the Silver River you have two options as Put In. You can use the facilities of the state park but I have read that, if you are using your own kayak or canoe, it is a heck of a drag. Our you can use the facilities of  Ray's Wayside in Ocala. The cost is $5.00 per vehicle. Click on the link for more information and location.

Gators enjoying a log at the Silver River

Belted Kingfisher
Started my paddle at 9AM. Intended to start earlier setting the alarm to 5:30AM to be in the river between 7 and 8. But forgot to program it to go off for the weekends so woke up at 6:10AM. Way to go Einstein. At Ray's Wayside there was a fleet of kayaks waiting to go when I arrived. Looked to me they were waiting to leave later in the morning so when I had my yak ready to leave did put in in the boat ramp. It is concrete, which is not a good friend for plastic boats, but tried to be careful. It was surprising to see how clear was the water in the boat ramp area and in the canal from Ray's Wayside to the Silver River. During the first hour did not have many pic chances. Saw a few Wood Ducks, there were many in the river this time, but there were no Cormorants, Anhingas, or Ibis. These species are usually abundant on the Silver River. After that first hour my mood changed a bit. Was not too optimistic at the time when two nice ladies paddled by me like I was anchored in the river. Really need to work on my paddling technique but, in my defense, I take it very slow because am looking for things to shoot pics at.

Prothonotary Warbler

Tufted Titmouse
On my way up river heard all kind of song birds but was not seeing any of them. Every time saw something moving it was too high or too deep into the forest and was started to feel frustrated. Then saw a yellow spot in overhanging branch. It was a Prothonotary Warbler, a beautiful bird. Was not the last time I saw the striking birds in the river. They were all over the places. A few meters ahead from where saw the warbler spotted another beautiful, much bigger bird. It was a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. Do not see this bird too often so it was a nice surprise when approached it and the heron did not mind me taking pics. They are a little elusive but here in Silver River, where I have seen Yellow Crowned Night Herons before, they tend to be more pic friendly than in other places. The good thing about this is that was not my last encounter of this type. Saw Yellow Crowned Night Herons three more times, two of them involving more than one. By the way, finally know why it is called the way it is called. Check the next pic and will see why.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Anhinga chick
Hey, I spent around 7 hours in the water so cannot tell you all the details without putting you to sleep. That being said will go straight to the highlight of the trip. At the State Park area turned around near where the head springs is. There were too  many motor boats, gazillion canoes, many more kayaks. Trying to make some time to let the boats and their fumes go away, paddled around one of the other springs in that section of the river. Caught some movement in the trees on a mini island just in front of the spring and got closer to take a better look. First saw two cormorants in a nest and did shoot a pic. But then saw something in a nest below the cormorant's. It was an anhinga nest and it had chicks on it. Mama anhinga came and started feeding one of the two chicks in the nest but I missed the pic chance, well, the pics did not come good. Trying to get another angle paddled around the small island and just in the side facing the state park saw another nest with smaller chicks, four of them, and Mama anhinga also. When she started feeding them that made my day. At that moment it did not matter for me that had not seen monkeys at the Silver River. Little did I know that was going to see three different troops on my way down. But before going to the summary of this post, let me ask this...

Mama Anhinga feeds her chicks

Anhinga chick with white coat
Did You Know That? Anhingas like to build their nest hanging over water. The male collect the sticks and starts building the nest, even before having a mate, a female who will lay from 3 to 6 eggs which both parents will incubate. The eggs will hatch in a month and the chicks will be naked, growing soon a coat of white down. The chicks will grow so fast that in just two weeks they will know what to do if there is danger. If they fall of the nest they will immediately swim to a hiding place until the danger is over. Then they will climb back to the nest, if they can, using the wings, the legs, and even the neck if necessary. In the case they cannot go back to the nest will perch in a rock, where the parents will feed them. Anhinga chicks will grow feathers in 6 to 8 weeks and then are on their own. Now I understand why there are so many Anhingas every place I go. One more thing; Anhingas do not have oil glands to spread their wings and make them waterproof. That is the reason why after a swim, they spread the wings out to dry in the Sun.

Cormorants' nest

Silver River Rhesus Monkey
The trip down river was more interesting with three different monkey troops. There were people when I arrived to the first location, like 200 meters up river from the State Park's observation deck in the river. Found the second troop, after taking a 30 minutes break at the State Park canoe ramp, to my left about  400 feet from the ramp and had like 5 minutes alone with them until two motor boats came, placed  themselves close to the bank, and started to toss food to the monkeys. At that point decided to leave since wanted  no part of it. Then found the last troop of the day, this one a huge one,  to my right close to a popular stopping point in the Silver River. A boat arrived as I did but the occupants were not tossing food to the monkeys. Did not stop for long at this location and continued my trip back to Ray's Wayside.


Here are more pics of what I saw at Silver River on a gray cloudy day...

Female Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Solitary Sandpiper

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Carolina Wren


Tiny alligator


Black Crowned Night Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron


Gator...Can you see his side near the back leg? What is that?


Green Heron

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Female anhinga

Moorhen chicks

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Monkey play

Hmmm...This one looks familiar. Do not know why but looks really familiar.Oh STOP it!!!!

Silver River monkey

Little Blue Heron

Red Bellied Woodpecker


Limpkin chick

Rhesus Monkey at the Silver River
Louisiana Waterthrush


Alligator swims

Say cheese guys!!!!!
And that is it for this one. Special mention to Master Dave. We crossed paths one more time in the Silver River. Have a nice pic of him taking a pic of me, like saying I am watching you watching me. Check the link to read his report.

Master Dave, The Central Florida Expert

 Anyways, here is the link for the photo album with pics from this and past trips: Silver River. Thanks for reading and hope you come back soon so we can share more Views From Our Kayak.

Silver River


  1. I knew it! That you would see monkeys. I, for the first time ever, was monkeyless.

  2. Anhingas have the prettiest babies! Great pictures of them.

  3. Luis, I posted the link for your blog on my Facebook wall. These pictures are astounding.

  4. Great pics!!! That looks like a scar on the big gator.

  5. Wow, wonderful photos. I really need to get to the Silver..
    For the thousands of anhingas I've seen in my life, I've never seen a nest or chicks. Same goes for the cormorants. They're adorable! I've seen very young moorhen chicks, and those guys are pretty damn rugged, though, so I can only imagine the gumption those little anhingas must have. Oh, and I believe that butterfly is a spicebush swallowtail.

  6. Thanks Anon and Octohawk. Thanks for the butterfly ID too.

  7. Fabulous photos of my favorite place to paddle!

  8. Thank you for the very good information and pictures. I was researching online to find a good place to go for a paddle this past weekend and stumbled across your blog. Based on this, I decided to take my son to Silver River. The 2 hour drive from Oviedo meant that I needed to make a firm decision and your entries sealed the deal. We had a great paddle and spent 9 hours on the water. Got pics of monkeys in the trees (two kinds, wild and college age) and a generous couple let my son try out one of their unique glass bottom personal water craft.


  9. Puxesaco, Thanks!!!! Silver is one of my favorites too.

    Jason, glad you had a good day with your son. Check Master Dave's Blog(Dave's Yak Tales). You will find better information there about Silver River and many other places to paddle. Also check Green Wave Forum. There are links to both sites in My Favorites Links section(right column of this page).