Thursday, February 25, 2010

Waccasassa River Exploration

Today, fellow explorer Buford Nature, and a guest (Jim) met up in Gulf Hammock for a kayak trip up the Waccasassa River. It was still around 45 degrees when we met at 10 am, but sunny, clear skies, and a slight breeze.
The water level at the ramp was super low due to the northeast wind having blown the water away from the coast, which in turn affects the water level miles inland.
The river was slightly tannin stained but somewhat clear.

Lots of bird life througout the day, which started with an osprey, carrying a fish to a resting spot on a cypress tree to wait for us to pass. Both black and turkey vultures, some perched, some soaring, and some picking at a boney carcass along the bank, dumped by hunters.
The tall giant cypress trees of which there were about a half dozen along the banks, are still without leaves, but looked like some possible leaf activity coming up.

No alligators or turtles sunning yet in the morning. After passing the Wekiva confluence, we started looking for flowering plants. Saw some Golden Clubs, which was the predominant bank bloomer today.
Also Red Buckeye was in different stages of bloom and emergent leaves. Walter's Viburnum was another prolific bloomer today too. And Swamp Dogwood getting ready to leaf out.

At our turn around spot, this is where we went ashore or abank to explore the karst topography. The native Violets were in bloom everywhere. You couldn't go two yards without seeing them. A single Yellowtop was spotted, along with numerous interesting ferns. Buford identified some other shrubs, along with bromeliads earlier that were pointed out. I pointed out Yaupon Holly and its use as a beverage by the Native Americans in the Southeastern U.S.
'Eupatagus antillarium' or Antilles Sea Bisquit, our state fossil was located for a round of discussions on Florida when it was under water eons ago.

Palms were another topic we discussed, such as the Needle Palm, Blue Stem Palm, Cabbage Palm, and Saw Palmettto.

Animals sighted included the above mentioned birds, also red shoulder hawks, belted kingfisher, Eastern phoebe, armadillos (3, and a first for me on this river), several deer, and on the way back, one turtle falling off a log.

A recurrent comment throughout the day was, 'what a beautiful day' and it was, not too cold, sunny, and great to be out in nature, on the water, and in Gulf Hammock exploring nature.


  1. That guest really enjoyed his introduction to the Waccasassa. Thanks for suggesting it, and for being a thorough, expert guide!

  2. I have paddled this river a hundred times, yet there is always something new there. This time it was the furry filamentous algae cloaking the muddy banks, glistening like the wet pelt of a green otter. Uh, you have seen green otters, haven't you?