Wednesday, March 8, 2017

St. Johns

Well, here I go again with another blog. We have been on the St John’s River (one of the few rivers in the US to flow south to north) in central Florida for about a week now and have seen some lovely sights.
I also had a very nice trip into Fernandina Beach with Nancy Altman. The highlight of the trip was seeing two turtles in a tank in the high street and seeing the underside of the carapace. It was so pretty I just had to take a photo of it. As you can see, he was asleep when I took the photo.

The St John’s is a working river and gets large container ships going into the port at Jacksonville (named after Andrew Jackson). We passed one being loaded and it was interesting to see the configuration of the containers on board the ship.

It must be a real skill loading the ship and knowing where to place the containers so that the ship is balanced.
We passed a house with an area underneath to “park” their boat. Maybe we should do this with our home!!!

We once again visited Blue Spring to see the manatees. This time we went by dinghy as it was too windy for us to get the boat in close to the parking area for boats. We had a lovely, bright sunny day and whoa!!! not a manatee in sight. Last year when we visited there was over 100 of them. Today, not one. Still the spring was pretty so we took a walk along the boardwalk. We did see an alligator basking in the sunshine on a fallen tree. This was a first for us (seeing the alligator at Blue Spring ) so a photo was a must.

We also saw another alligator in a different area of the St John’s. He was hanging over a fallen tree stump and looked quite relaxed and comfortable.

Blue Spring never fails to amaze me in its beauty. I have enclosed a couple of photos for you to see.

There is an old house on the grounds of Blue Spring, Thursby House which we had not visited before so we decided to pay it a visit. When we returned to the Spring lo and behold there were a few manatees for us to see and photograph.

So, if we hadn’t gone into the house before returning to the dinghy, we would not have seen the manatees.
The Spring usually has many fish feeding in the waters but today there were only a few. We think the reason why there were so few fish and manatees is due to the very warm winter Florida has had. The fish I took a photo of is approx 3 feet long and pencil thin and is called the Florida Gar. To me, it looks like an English Pike but much longer.

We passed several cattle feeding on the water lilies. They were standing in the water up to their bellies and did not seem to mind getting wet. As you can see from the bare stalks, the cattle really fed well on the water lilies.

We also passed a jet boat meant for going into very shallow water. These boats make so much noise they must scare away the wild life. As a passenger you have to wear ear muffs to shut out the noise.

We went as far south as we could at the St John’s and ended up at Sanford. We spent two very pleasant nights there. Across from our slip was an old paddle wheeler with two paddles which must make it easier for steering.

Well, for those of you who know me, no blog is complete without either birds, reflections or sunset pictures. Well, today is your lucky day for seeing some of my bird photos starting with the lovely raptor, the Osprey.
The first photo shows a nest high atop of an electric pylon. Have you ever wondered how the bird managed to get the first few sticks to stay up there? And how do they balance the sticks as some of them are quite large?

The next photo shows a pair of Ospreys eating a fish they had just caught.

I thought the next photo was interesting. It is of a Bald Eagle chasing an Osprey who must have got too close to its nest.

We saw another Bald Eagle from a distance the following day.

We also saw an Osprey chasing a Cormorant away from its nest which was wedged in between two signs on the waterway.

Now, for some more bird photos.

The above photo is of an American Swallow-tailed Kite. I initially thought it was the Magnificent Frigate bird but the white breast did not match the Frigate Bird.
How's this for having birds on your lawn. Instead of starlings or blackbirds these are large black vultures. They can usually be found where some form of carrion is.

Well, that is enough of birds as I wanted to show you a slide that someone had erected at the edge of the river. It must give you quite a thrill and a lift when you get to the end.

The next photo is of a palm tree growing out of a wall. The owners of the house must have built the wall around the palm tree.

I want to finish the blog with a fisherman’s story. We were anchored in a creek and two fishermen drew up close to our boat in their boat to fish along side us. One of them caught a very large cat fish and allowed me to take his photo holding his catch.

The other person in the boat then proceeded to tell us how they both had caught similar fish some days ago and had a bet as to whose fish was the heaviest. The man telling the story said his fish was the heavier even though it was smaller. As the other man turned to pull out a scale, the man with the smaller fish popped several lead weights into the gullet of his smaller fish resulting in his fish weighing more than his friends. The friend did not believe that his fish did not win the bet so took his friend’s fish and shook it. Well, the fish made a strange noise so he tipped it upside down and out of the fish’s mouth same the weights. Needless, to say he lost his bet. I just loved this “fish story”.

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