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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Weekie Wachee River

Manatee at the Hospital Hole in the Weekie Wachee River

If 2013 ended with a blast, 2014 started with a bang!!!!  The temperature dropped under 40 in the Weekie Wachee River area Friday night. It was supposed to climb to mid 40's by noon Saturday. Good conditions to see manatees. We had planned a family trip but knowing how things are called it off because the cold weather was not going to be good for some of my family members. But I decided to go by myself. Really glad I did.

Belted Kingfisher

Put In / Take Out: Rogers Park, located at 7244 Shoal Line Blvd, Spring Hill. The fee per vehicle is $2 and it has a pay station where you can pay by credit card or cash. It has restrooms and is a heck of a facility with easy access to the kayak ramp. I have heard it is a little slippery when wet at the ramp so be careful.


Manatee rolls at the Hospital Hole in the Weekie Wachee River

Started my paddle at 8:20 and immediately headed to the Hospital Hole, a submarine sink located in the river where manatees and fishes like to gather. Three manatees were at the Hospital, at least visible, and did shot some pics from the kayak. Was thinking about going in or not, more inclined not to do it since it was very cloudy and the pics were probably going to come out bad. For some reason the temptation of seeing manatees and hundreds of fish in the clear waters was too much to take for me and ended up beaching the kayak and jumping in. The Hospital Hole is impressive. That hole turns black in a hurry and it is a little scary when you see it for the first time. There were two more manatees at the edges of the Hospital. One manatee was as curious as I was and came to check on me. Did the thing they do rolling and showing you their belly but, warning, they are not asking for a belly rub. They are just looking around and since they lack a vertebrae have to do that to have a 360 degree field of view. Here is a short video of my friend at the Hospital...


video

Hospital Hole area. Manatee can be seen left in front of the kayak.

Who are you and what are you doing in my river?

Close encounter

Manatee deeper in the Hospital Hole

Left the Hospital on my way up river. The Weekie Wachee River is beautiful but if you do as I learned from my kayaking mentor (see Dave's Yak Tales), it is a tough one. The current is strong and there are so many bends that you can hardly gain some momentum before having to turn. That being said let me show you the pics from this up river part of the trip...


Osprey
Great Blue Heron

Pileated Woodpecker

Belted Kingfisher

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

Robin

Robin

Manatees

Weekie Wachee River Manatee

Made it to the State Park area where a Bald Eagle's nest is. The female was there feeding and I found a spot where the current would not affect the kayak and did my best to shoot pics under a cloudy dark sky. It also worked as a well deserved break from paddling...

Bald Eagle

Lunch time for Mrs. Bald Eagle, and for me too.
 

Love this one!!!!!!


After lunch, back to keep those eggs warm in a breezy day...

Made it to the State Park limits, a point where you cannot go beyond, just for kicks. Waited for the tour boat to arrive and then started my journey back to Rogers Park, this time with the current in my favour...


Gray Catbird

Pied-Billed Grebe

Turtle
Manatee

Manatee

Deer on the run...Two of them!!!!!!!

Little Blue Heron

Great Egret

Mother and a calf near Rogers Park

Sea Gulls at Rogers Park

My trip down river lasted only one hour and thirty minutes, in contrast with the almost three hours paddle up river. Stopped three times for pics. So, this is it for this one. Thanks for your patience since this one took longer to complete than usual, and check our Facebook Page for more pics from this and past trips. I invite you to come back next weekend for another Views From Our Kayak.


Manatee at the Weekie Wachee River

2 comments:

  1. Great post. As always. And the slippery advice is good for any ramp. Although Rogers Park is the only place where I looked up at the sky ant thought, "That hurt, hope nothing is broken"

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing this trip! Every year right after Christmas My husband and I sneak away for a short trip to Florida where even if it is cold it is better weather than in Tennessee. A year ago we made the same trip you just did and remarkably we saw almost identical wildlife including the eagle on her nest. The trip up river was well worth the effort and actually offered better views of the manatees. I was, however, disappointed that the big spring within the park was off limits. We stayed at a campground near King's Bay and paddled a different location each day. This trip and our day on the Chassahowitzka were my favs.

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