Friday, November 21, 2008

River images

I haven't been paddling much lately. I have been teaching a lot and doing physical therapy for my shoulder. Enough about that though, here is a vase I had in my studio. I had always intended to do some carving on it. I decided to carve this Snowy Egret on it. I am pretty happy with how it came out. The vase is made from Sycamore. The picture is a combination of carving and wood burning. Stuff like this will keep my busy when I am unable to get out on the water. 

Lately there have been 2 wood storks hanging out at the drainage ditch by my house. I need to get some pictures of them the next time they are around.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I hurt my shoulder

Today I went to the doctor to have my shoulder looked at today. It has been hurting for a while. I haven't been doing as much paddling as I would like. I have a small tear in one of the muscles. I will have to do a few weeks of physical therapy. I am betting one of the exercises won't be the rowing machine. I don't start the therapy for 2 weeks so I will have to be patient. This is going to cut down on my time out on the water.   :-(

The good news is I have a lot of wood turning classes coming up so I was going to be pretty busy teaching and wouldn't have a lot of time to paddle. I was planning on a day or 2 on the water though. Time will tell. And I will definitely be back out there. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Black & White Wednesday

This is an older picture. I was unable to get out on the water last weekend. I liked this picture it reminded me of a little kid sitting over in the corner thinking if I don't look at you then you really aren't there.

As I drifted by, this guy never moved. Although it is amazing how fast they are able to move when the mood strikes them. And you hate to see them slide into the water as you approach. Especially if the water is dark and you can't see where they are going. 

I hope you enjoy the picture and my the alligators always ignore you too !!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Black & White Wednesday

My boat is waiting patiently...
I usually carry the boat down to the water first and then return for the rest of my gear. This day was no exception. I can carry everything down in one trip but two is much easier. When the water is this dark you get the nice reflections. The tannins in the water made it the darkest I have seen water in a while. I saw my share of dark water when I used to clean boat bottoms. I would dive somedays and would have zero visibility. Some days I could hold my dive light out at arms reach and not be able to see it shining at my face. Days like that are great for reflections but bad for working under water. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Juniper Prairie

After cruising downstream through the jungle. The creek opens up a bit and you are greeted by a bit of Florida type Prairie. I spotted this palm tree and took a few pictures as the current swept me by. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Black and White Wednesday, Juniper Creek

These are more pictures of Juniper Creek. These have been converted to Black and White. They have the feel of old time Florida. If you can overlook the kevlar canoe and imagine an old wood and canvas canoe. The scene would look the same.

We actually had to paddle under that log. Laura is approaching the log and getting ready to duck under. It was pretty close for her. I can't imagine what I looked like going through in my canoe.
We passed by this old tree. I was thinking this would be a perfect place for an Osprey or a hawk to hang out and watch for fish and stuff passing by. Then the bird could swoop down out of the tree and catch lunch.

I hope you have enjoyed todays pictures.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Juvenile Ibis

Juniper creek is a challenging creek to paddle. I spotted some raccoons and turtles and even aligators. I was able to pull over and take a few pictures of this Ibis hanging out on the shoreline. I like how the sun makes his bill kind of translucent. I also liked how the feathers on his neck are still his baby feathers. 

I enjoyed paddling the creek. We didn't see a lot of wildlife however there is a lot of greenery blocking the shoreline so most of the time you can only see the water. I may have to try it again after it cools off and some of the trees loose some of their leaves. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Juniper Creek

Today I went to Juniper Creek with my friend Laura. This is always a challenging place to paddle. The creek has some current that pushes you along nicely. The creek makes many twists and turns. It is also very overgrown. There are lots of trees and branches both across the water and in the water. I can't even guess how many times I had to duck down into the canoe to pass under something. I only ended up with one scratch on my arm from a branch. I went through my share of overhanging branches. At one point I was going along pretty good and my hat got caught on a branch and almost pulled me from the boat. While I was recovering from that I drove straight into a Cyprus tree. I was going about 3 kts. And then I was at a full stop.
This is Laura smiling for the camera. Laura was pretty fast in her boat. This was the first time we had paddled together. We used to teach sailing together years ago. And we have both paddled for a while, today was our first trip paddling. We took turns leading, usually one of us would get hung up on something and the other would pass trying to stay clear. Once you knew which way not to go it was much easier to get through an obstacle. 
I don't get many pictures of myself paddling. The good part about having the only camera was Laura didn't take any pictures of me crashing into trees and then getting caught across the creek as my boat was swept sideways into both shorelines. Sometimes the only way through an obstacle was backwards. It made for an interesting day.
I just liked this picture. I can imagine this is what Florida looked like in the old days. Check out the clouds reflected on the waters surface. The tress come right out over the water. Even though it was in the 80's today the spring fed water kept things cool. 
The Park people said the creek had been closed for the last 2 weeks while they waited for the water levels to go down and then they had to clear some of the deadfall. They just clear the bear minimum. I still find it hard to believe as many people use this creek. I would think it would be cleared slightly more. There are a few signs of other people floating the creek but they are pretty minimal. I would suggest to any one  thinking about doing this creek to make sure your boat handling skills are good, because they will be put to the test. 

Stay tuned more to come,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Red Dragon Fly

I have liked Dragon Flies for as long as I can remember. In the past I would just marvel at how well they fly. Plus I like the buzzing sound they make. I saw at least 3 different (Colors) kinds of Dragon Flies on this day. This was the only one willing to have his picture taken. Which was a good thing because I don't think I have ever seen a red Dragon Fly before.
I spotted this Red Dragon Fly sitting on this branch. I lifted my camera up to take a picture and off he flew. I set there for a minute looking around and he came back and landed on the same branch. I was able to take a few pictures before he flew off again. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Ride is waiting

Black and White Wednesday
My canoe is patiently waiting for me to carry the rest of my gear down to the dock and get in the boat. The water was very dark. I could not see below the surface at all. There was a ton of run off coming from the woods. The current is running from the left to the right in the picture. 

This is a view looking up stream. I usually go either upstream or upwind first. That way if there are any problems you can drift back towards where you started from. Also the second half of your trip is easier. The only hard thing is timing your trip. Paddling upstream takes a lot longer then paddling and drifting back. 
As I stated earlier I can't wait to try this creek again. I will wait till the weather is cooler. I think it will be a nice day trip. 

Stay tuned....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thomas Creek , Jacksonville

Today I thought I thought I would try out a new place. I have been looking for some places that are closer to my house. That aren't lined with houses on both banks and actually have some wildlife to see. I heard about this creek and thought I would give it a try. It amazes me that you can drive for 30 minutes on I-95 with no traffic and still be in the city. This is a city park located off Lem Turner out by the airport.  There is a boat ramp and a small dock. The water was pretty high and still flowing out of the woods. This is rain we got from Hannah last week. I could tell the water was at least 3 feet higher because of all the trash caught up in the trees. I also had to paddle through 3 trees that had fallen down into the water.  
I usually don't take pictures with the car in them but the view is very nice. I picked a nice shady place to park the car. It was worth carrying my canoe and stuff the extra 10 feet to get back and still have the car parked in the shade.
I spent most of the trip chasing the birds down the creek. I don't think the birds are used to seeing boats, or people. As soon as I would come around a bend the birds would spot me and fly a little further upstream. The other thing working against me was the water levels are still very high so the birds and other wildlife is able to stay further back in the woods making it harder to spot them. There were 4 Ibis in this tree. They were up high enough so they felt safe and stayed put.
King of the world.
After paddling over a tree that was spanning the creek I spotted this lizard on the front of my boat. He rode for a few minutes until I paddled over close enough to the shore line. Were he abandoned ship. He did look back and smile at me before jumping ship.

Thomas creek was a nice paddle. It is only about 45 minutes from my house. I can't wait to try it out this fall when the water level goes back down to normal levels and some of the foliage dies off. I imagine there will be a lot more to see.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I have been seeing Dragon flies all spring and summer. They are usually seen darting over here and darting over there. They are excellent fliers. These 2 were taken on the Wacissa River the last time I was there. This big Blue one landed on my life jacket. I thought it was interesting that he would land on the blue part of my jacket. Anyway he stayed there long enough for me to take a picture. Now if I could have just gotten him to pose a little longer and maybe a shot from the top. 
I am pretty sure this one was laying eggs. I can imagine this is a dangerous activity for a Dragon Fly. I can imagine this Dragon Fly looking over her shoulder looking for a fish coming up looking for lunch. This one did get away clean. And hopefully we will have another crop of baby Dragon Flies to watch next year.
This is a piece of my woodturning that was inspired by the Dragon Flies I have been watching. The vase is made from Winged Elm (Thanks Florida Exotic Woods) This wood is very heavy. The logs this came from took 2 people to lift. It is a nice wood to work with and has a nice grain pattern. The piercing of the Dragon Fly was drawn on by hand. I did some wood burning to the lip of the vase to add some texture.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Black & White Wednesday

These pictures are from my recent trip to the Wacissa River. These were all converted from color to Black and White in Photoshop. I came across this Moorhen standing in these cattails. He was standing still like he was hiding, Maybe if he stood still enough I would not see him.
This Great Blue Heron was hanging out on the river taking in the sights. He had a nice perch on this log. 
This Snowy Egret was running around on the weeds looking for lunch. He looks so skinny in this picture. These birds are so light they can walk around on the weeds looking for their meals.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another day another Deer

Don't let the title fool you it isn't every day you see deer swimming across bodies of water.I have been fortunate enough to see 3 of them so far. This is out of the about 100 days I have spent on the water canoeing so far. 
This one saw me coming and picked up speed going across the river. I managed to get this one picture of it leaping onto the show and then disappearing into the thick woods that line the shores of the Wacissa River. Each time I see a deer I am thankful, and when I see them swimming I am very thankful. I will keep going down to the river and keep my eyes open. 


Thursday, July 31, 2008

More pictures of birds actually doing stuff

I came upon this Great Blue Egret striking this weird pose. I came to the conclusion that he was drying his wings. After emailing Peggy from Paddle tales she confirmed that he was doing just that. This bird looks about 3 feet tall and it was just the oddest pose. 
I then spotted this Snowy Egret running around on the weeds. He would sink down slightly and have to flap his wings to continue on. It was quite entertaining to watch. Eventually he settled down and went back to the business of fishing.
This Green Heron was standing on this little log that was poking out of the water. He must have been bored with the fishing because he started grooming himself. I thought the way his wing was down was interesting. I either see these birds fishing or flying. So it was interesting to see his wing partially extended. 
I spent more time with each bird this time and I think I got some better pictures. The weeds on the Wacissa make this a little easier as you can kind of park on the weeds. Getting across the weeds can be challenging as well. They slow the boat right down and even paddling becomes a chore. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Black & White Wednesday

Monday Morning on the Wacissa River. It was just a little foggy when I got there. The sun was coming up from the left side of the picture so it seems a little foggier then it really was. The water was absolutly flat when I started paddling. The breeze did pick up to about 5 kts. Just enough to keep it comfortable. The rain fell later and made things steamy. Check out the last picture of this post.
There were lots of these Green Herons out fishing. They stand on these limbs over the water which is usually covered in this duckweed. How they are able to determine there are fish under there is a mystery to me. I have done some scuba diving in water with duck weed and it doesn't let any light through. I watched this bird for a while and he finally had to move to another branch closer to the water. 
This bird (Snowy Egret) was posing nicely. Neck outstrechted , side profile and a nice background. 
This was after a fairly short rain shower. It was one of those showers that just seems to make it hot and sticky. There was enough moisture in the air to leave this fog across the river and into the woods. There is a sit on top kayak on the left side of the picture.
Another nice day out on the water. I had the river almost to myself. And did I mention no Airboats.  I have lots more pictures so stay tuned. I was able to spend 2 days on the Wacissa this trip.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Back on the Wacissa

The stars must have been aligned or something like that.

The kids are spending the week at their grandparents house in Jay, Florida and Tami is working in Tallahassee for a couple of days. I drove over and meet her. We went to dinner with friends at a place called Masa's it is a Japanese restaurant I definitely want to go there again. This morning I got up and drove to the Wacissa River. This is a very nice river and I think it is worth the drive even with $4 gas. This first picture is the river fairly early. The fog burned off pretty quick. 
The water was as still as glass. A little breeze came up later and keep it pleasant out on the water.
I went over to try and sneak up on a Tri-colored Heron (next picture) and this Butterfly came around and wasn't shy. I managed to get some good pictures and ended up close to the heron.
I spotted this Tri-colored Heron This one was standing there watching me take pictures of the butterfly and patiently waited his turn to model. I took several pictures and even backed away without him moving. These birds can stand still for so long. This one outlasted me. 
This Egret was fishing and keeping an eye on me. It was just starting to rain. The first of several passing showers. The first few I didn't even have to get out my rain jacket. 
I had lunch out on the river and then paddled back in the rain. It was just rain showers without any thunder or lightning. For the last mile upstream it was raining pretty good. I kept the camera in the dry bag and past by lots of birds that were just going about their business. It was good to be back out on this wonderful river. The first 4 hours I had it completely to my self. I saw a couple kayaks and 2 john boats and lots of birds.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Black & White Wednesday Lake photos

Top of the Morning
This first picture was actually taken in color. The Anhinga and the sky provide the blacks and grays. So I am calling this a black and white photo. This bird had landed on the tree and then climbed up to the top. A few minutes later he was joined by another bird and the battle for king of the hill ensued. This fellow finally won, having the high ground gives you a big advantage.
Needle in a hay stack
Find the birds hidden in the photo. There are 6 of them. The first 5 are pretty easy to find and the 6th bird is a little harder. There are 3 different species.
2 Younglings
These 2 younglings were hanging out pretty much on their own. While all the other birds were up in the trees these 2 were standing down closer to the water. This did tend to get them away from most of the hubbub going on up in the trees.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

3 Sisters

A couple of days ago I was out riding my bike close to my house and went down to check out this small lake. I saw a guy fishing and as I looked down the lake I saw this very small island covered with egrets. Today I got up early and drove the 2 miles over there and launched my boat. I slowly paddled over close to the island and was rewarded with about 100 birds hanging out. Many of them are juveniles several of them still had the fuzz and not too many feathers. The lake is surrounded by houses and a 4 lane road. So a guy in a canoe didn't bother the birds one little bit.
Here is what I am calling the 3 sisters. These 3 Female Anhinga were sitting in the tree looking around and I can imagine talking. They would put there heads together (like the 2 pictured) and talk and then continue with their business. 
Cattle Egrets
There were a lot of these hanging around. They were looking very cute with their feathers up like hats. Look close this one has a stick it its mouth and was building a nest over to the left just out of the frame.
Here it the rear view you can see the tan feathers on his back. 
All in all it was a pretty nice paddle. It only took a few minutes to drive to the lake. The water was pretty still so the paddling was easy. There was just enough breeze to make it pleasant. The sky was cloudy so I took my rain jacket. Of course that guaranteed keeping the rain away. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Black and White Wednesday, Exchange Island pt.3

I have been to Exchange Island 3 times in a row now. I have been there for a few reasons. Gas prices are high, I can drive there and paddle and still be home for lunch and despite the trash I like the island. It is located in the middle of the city and yet it feel like you are miles away. As long as you don't hear the traffic from the bridge.
There was an Egret and a Great Blue Heron in this tree. 
This is what years of neglect and people who don't care looks like. This was just a small area of a much larger one covered with glass and trash. I had already picked up the cans and bottles. I am not to sure what to do about the broken glass.
Here is the Snowy Egret sitting on a stick overlooking the water. 
As always Take it with you when you leave.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Birds of Exchange Island

This Egret was coming in for a landing and spotted me and made a slight turn so as not to overfly me. This bird looks very elegant flying through the air with its wings outstretched. You can see how translucent the feathers are. It is amazing how something so thin and lightweight can hold up a bird.
This Great Blue Heron was flying along the shoreline looking for a place to land. He flew past me and landed about 1/4 mile down shore. He sure looked good going by. 
I spotted this Snowy Egret and was able to paddle along the shore line and get pretty close and take several pictures. The reeds came out and I just paddled up to the reeds and sat there taking pictures. This bird knew I was there but I was partially hidden and apparently not threatening. I was able to back away after taking my pictures. This picture was taking on my way back to the boat ramp. I had already picked up trash along the shoreline in this area so there is nothing in the background to ruin a good photo.