Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Make-up

It was a short work day for me today.  I had hoped that I would be able to leave early to spend my sister's last day here with her.  My brother drove down from Gainesville as well.  My late night last night, granted me that time off.  I went in at my regularly scheduled time to work.  I met with the staff and briefed them on the events of the weekend.  Then I met with our office staff for our usual Monday morning meeting.  I had a short online training to do, a couple of calls to make, some incident reports to do, and then I was done.  Just as I was finishing up, my brother arrived.
My brother and sister met me at the office and then I took them around the park.  We spotted a Fox Squirrel on our way into the campground and had fun watching its antics for a little while.  It used the scaly branches of this young pine to scratch an itch or two, then laid down to rest for a bit.  It realized that we were watching it at some point and decided to hide in the tall grass.  It still wanted to watch us though, so it sort of looked like a prairie dog.  When it started bounding through the grass and went behind another tree, we moved along.

We stopped at home so that I could change into canoeing clothes and we ate some lunch.  Then we headed out to do some boating.  My sister kayaked and my brother and I shared a canoe.  It was great to finally get out and explore the river.  Where the spring run joins the river, there is a T.  We paddled to the right for about 30 minutes, returned to the spring run and then paddled to the left for about 30 minutes.  We had a great time.  There were several other people out enjoying the river and lots of wildlife!  We saw butterflies, birds, fish, heard bull frogs, and even saw a young alligator.  The gator was too quick and dove for the water before I could get a good photo.  The river was beautiful and very tropical.  It was very hot and sunny, but the tree-lined banks provided some shade and there were cool breezes when we needed them most.
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There were beautiful Bromeliad air plants in bloom everywhere!  I had seen them with the pink stalk, but never with the purple top on the bloom.  They were just gorgeous.
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Another lovely plant that we saw a lot of was Pickerel Weed.  It had a tall purple stalk of flowers.  This Gulf Fritillary butterfly was enjoying the plant also.
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This Great Blue Heron surprised us.  We paddled so close to it before we saw it and it stayed very still, hoping that we didn't see it.
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An Ibis watched us go by from a branch up above.  It flew away when it first saw us, but landed on a branch up ahead.  We must have surprised it initially because as we went by its new perch, it just sat and watched us.
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We had a great time on the river, but we returned home with a little too much sun.  We were worn out and ready for air-conditioning.  After we had cooled off a little, we went outside in the yard to look at a few things.  I just happened to look down in time to see a tiny Gopher Tortoise strolling through the yard.  It was so much fun to see!  We watched it progress as it moved all the way across the yard.  I wonder where it will end up.  I wonder how a little, young Gopher Tortoise decides where to start digging its burrow.

Thought of the Day #52
It was really great to finally see the river.  It reminded me of the Ichetucknee in some ways.  There were areas that were very clear and you could see every fish and stick all the way down to the sand below.  Unfortunately, the Wekiva River has some challenges that the Ichetucknee does not face.  There are several private areas where people can access the river.  That means that Wekiwa Springs State Park is not able to supervise who gets on the river and what they do while they are there.  From time to time, Law Enforcement officers are able to patrol, but they can't be everywhere all the time.  Alcohol, garbage, and exotic plants are reminders of that fact.  There wasn't much garbage, but each piece feels like an insult.  I was spoiled by the pristine conditions of the Ichetucknee.  There, the park is able to monitor everything and everyone that gets on the river because all access is within the park.  The wildlife on the Wekiva is a little more accustomed to activity from people though and I think that wildlife opportunities may be greater on the Wekiva than on the Ichetucknee.  I can't wait to go back and see it all again!


Linda said...

Thanks for taking us along, Amy! (I hope there wasn't any splashing.)

Ranger Amy said...

Only a little.