Archive for the ‘Silver River’ Tag

Giddy Up!   1 comment


~

As has been said, “It’s turtles all the way down.”

I still submit that turtles are great subjects for photography — they don’t move around very much; they have features that are unique one from another; and the various postures they assume while sunning themselves leads to interesting compositions.

Such was the case with this pair on the Silver River in Florida. I had to spin the kayak around and work back upstream to catch this team. I caught several frames before they decided they had had enough. Actually, the big guy on the bottom had enough, and took the little one into the water with him.

Wood. Duck.   3 comments


~

From his log perch on the Silver River in Florida, a male Wood Duck keeps a close eye on his mate and their brood of baby ducklings.

For my preferences, Silver River is an amazing place to photograph wildlife from our kayaks. Motorboats are allowed to travel only at idle speed. No fishing is allowed. The five mile stretch of the Silver is essentially a wildlife sanctuary, attracting all manner of creatures. In fact, if you leave the Silver River and travel the nearby Oklawaha River, with fewer restrictions, it’s like night-and-day.

April is a great time to visit. The sun is getting warmer, flowers are starting to bloom, and the local critters are busy making ever more critters.

In this scene, I took some time to float near the male Wood Duck, who seemed quite unaffected by our presence. At the time, I thought he was solitary, but as it turns out, his mate was nearby and had a brood of eight or nine ducklings. (I’ll have an image of the brood coming up soon.)

If you haven’t yet seen it, one of my images of the Rhesus macaque monkeys at Silver River was picked up by Seeker Daily, part of the Discovery Network, and featured in a short video piece. You can find that video on YouTube, titled “Is There A Monkey Island In Florida?”

~

Fine Dining at Anhinga’s Cafe   Leave a comment


~
Ahh, sushi… It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Paddling toward the headwaters of the Silver River in Florida, we passed by a small, forested island that held a large colony of Anhingas, water birds that dive underwater for their catch, which is usually fish and amphibians. Rough nests were scattered across the island, most having two or more juveniles waiting for food.

Mom and dad go out to catch fish, letting them, um, settle for a while, before hacking up their catch to the young ones. As the feedings continued despite our close presence, the cacaphony of squawking juvies was almost overwhelming. With several young ones in the nest, competition for the one provider was intense.

500px | Google+ | Twitter | Purchase a Print

Grouch   3 comments


~
After the chill of the evening wears off, a number of cold-blooded animals climb out of the water to warm themselves in the sun. Alligators tend to favor land or vegetation mats, turtles tend to climb up on logs that stick out of the water. In both cases, the chosen location is a good one in case a quick escape is needed.

This little guy — a Suwannee River Cooter, I believe — is actually only a few inches long, perhaps 5″ at most. I slowly nudged my kayak toward his carefully chosen log and snapped a few frames at 210mm.

Why “Grouch?”

This was the look he gave me just before grudgingly dropping into the cold water.

500px | Google+ | Twitter | Purchase a Print

‘Gator on a Rope   1 comment


~
Not your average “Soap on a Rope.”

This, it seems to me, is one prime example of a giant bull Alligator mississippiensis, otherwise known as the American alligator. All I need to know is that they have big teeth and strong tails and that my kayak hull is rather fragile when it comes right down to it.

It was a warm day in late April on the Silver River, so the beast came onshore to collect some heat from the sun. Typically, alligators stay sedentary, preferring not to go into the colder water unless they feel threatened. If they do get scared, their normal safety procedure is to scramble directly into the water and submerge. That’s fine, as long as one’s kayak is not between the ‘gator and the water.

There’s a 3 knot current in the Silver River, so once I spotted this guy, I paddled upstream a bit, grabbed the camera and began to drift (from right-to-left in this picture.) As I came directly across from my subject, I noticed the OTHER tail in the woods… “Good ford!” I said, “There’s two of ‘em!” Evidently, this little puppy had a girlfriend.

Not wanting to disturb his marital bliss any longer (they do have reptilian brains, after all, and are not capable of much discernment), I slowly paddled… backwards.

The Tortoise and the Heron   7 comments


~While paddling kayaks along the Silver River near Ocala, Florida, one can see a wide range of wildlife, often in interesting combinations. Here, a Great Blue Heron, taking a break from wading, shares a bit of dry space with the turtle.
~

While paddling kayaks along the Silver River near Ocala, Florida, one can see a wide range of wildlife, often in interesting combinations. Here, a Great Blue Heron, taking a break from wading, shares a bit of dry space with a turtle.

The Guardian   3 comments


The Guardian
~

If looks could kill.

While kayaking along the Silver River in Florida, we encountered our first group of wild monkeys, the backstory of which you can learn in Shelter from the Storm.

The monkeys weren’t hard to spot. The mother and child seen in “Shelter…” were sitting on a cypress stump near the water. Just on the other side of the large cypress tree, this alpha male was standing guard against the onslaught of other members of the troop. Just behind him, in the woods, there was a cacophony of howling and screeching as monkeys chased each other through the trees. It seemed more serious than just play. I don’t know what the problem was, but there was clearly upset in the tribe deeper in the woods.

Meanwhile, the male’s attention was drawn to a number of colorful boats approaching from the river. Threats all around.

He kept a careful watch on the mother and child. If a rambunctious member of the troop got too close, he’d climb up on a flexible downed tree, bouncing up and down while grunting his warnings. The other monkeys seemed to respect that, and kept their distance.

As did we. This guy gave me a look, so I backed… away… slowly…

~

Handheld from the kayak, ISO400, f/6.3, 1/250s, 210mm

500px | Google+ | Twitter | Purchase a Print

So I’ll Follow the Sun   4 comments


So I'll Follow the Sun
~

Despite being on the road in Florida for almost two weeks, the winter weather dictated that we would get only one kayak paddle trip. Fortunately, the Silver River was loaded with wildlife of all sorts.

Passing by one of the many downed trees along the way, we spotted a primordial procession of turtles leaves the water, seeking the warmth of the sunshine. Given that we were bundled up against the cold north wind, it seemed like a good idea.

~

500px | Google+ | Twitter | Purchase a Print

Shelter from the Storm   7 comments


Shelter from the Storm

~

Yes… monkeys.

“You’re not going to see any monkeys today,” an experienced outfitter told us at the launch ramp before we started out. “It’s too cold and dank.”

My advice is to take local knowledge — usually quite helpful — with a grain of salt. We came across lots of monkeys.

After snapping the cormorant (Cormorants) while paddling the Silver River in Florida, we rounded a bend and found the first troop of monkeys cavorting near the edge of the water. They were creating quite a ruckus deeper in the woods, swinging from the trees and challenging one another.

There were about twenty individuals, ranging from the dominant male and young-buck upstarts, to teenagers, and pairs like this adorable mother and child. Here, the mother is taking a break from grooming the young one long enough to warm him up. Just on the other side of the tree, the dominant male was posing and bouncing up and down on a fallen tree, warning other troop members not to approach.

You might ask: Why are there wild monkeys in Florida?

At the Silver Springs headwaters, you can find a number of attractions, including the famous glass-bottomed boat rides. In the 1930s, the operator of the Silver Springs Jungle Cruise put the monkeys on a small island in the river in order to spice up the ride for customers.

He didn’t realize that monkeys are excellent swimmers.

The monkeys escaped the island, of course, and began to populate the surrounding woods. As civilization approaches closer to the Springs, some monkeys have been seen in the nearby city of Ocala, or raiding citrus groves, or free-ranging on livestock farms. Some people have claimed that the monkeys pose a threat to humans, as they can carry the Herpes-B virus, fatal to humans, though the threat is surely overblown.

An animal shelter worker studying the monkeys once stopped 15 tourists in the park and asked them what drew them there. Fourteen said they came to see the monkeys (as did we.)

~

500px | Google+ | Twitter | Purchase a Print

%d bloggers like this: