Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Spring Kayak on Spring River--and a surprise at the end!

For two days we have been watching Spring River, as it moseys past our campground on the bluff. With temperatures in the 70s and little wind, we decided that it was time to get out the kayak for a trip on the river. Our plan was to launch from the ramp less than a quarter mile from our camp site. We inflated the boat, and Mark stayed with it while Denisa drove the car to the motor home and then walked back. She found someone sleeping on the job when she returned.

It was a steep walk down to the water's edge to launch the boat, and we headed out against the wind and current to see how far we could get today. It was nice to know that we were doing the work now, and we could float back to our put-in site effortlessly later today.

When the river branches, we took the less-traveled route on the left. Less-traveled = more shallow, so the big motor boats can't travel here. This white heron was still able to stand in the shallow water in the middle of this section on the Spring River.

We found times when our flat-bottomed kayak almost got stuck. The critters on this branch of the river aren't used to being disturbed, and we scared up several creatures that made balloons of mud before they sped away under the water.

Some of those creatures stirring up the mud were probably turtles. When Denisa took this picture of the turtle on the floating log, she was photo-bombed by four more sticking their heads out of the water.

This guy let us get quite close for his portrait.

His awkward pose included his back feet sticking straight back out of his shell.

We happened upon a flock of white pelicans, who never did fly away as we got closer and closer. Even though they looked the same from a distance, we noticed differences between the pelicans as we got closer.

Some of the pelicans have smooth bills that are a dull color; while others have brightly colored bills that have a curious-looking bump.

Mark did some googling later, and we found that mature white pelican adults get a "breeding horn" that will fall off after they mate and lay eggs. Likewise, their bills will lose the bright-colors as well. We learn something new every day!

We found other creatures in this shallow water. Denisa was not thrilled to see this snake coming her way. Some google research found it to be a nonvenomous banded water snake. But at the time, any snake was not a welcome guest into our boat.

We rejoined the deeper channel, and also rejoined the parade of motor boats trolling the waters of Spring River. It was a Saturday, and we saw several fishermen bringing in fish. Not only was the weather beautiful this weekend, but the fish were cooperating to make it a successful day as well.

We always enjoy watching the birds that are out fishing as well. We watched a bald eagle soar high above us and then out of sight. It was easier to watch these fast little white birds that made low circles over the water.

Then they would plunge head first into the water when they spotted a fish that seemed catchable.

After a couple hours on the water, it's good to get out and stretch our legs. This was the point that we decided to turn around, making our way back towards home about three miles away. As our luck would have it, the wind had quieted and there was no noticeable current on the river. So it looks like we'll be paddling both ways on this river trip.

We were almost home when Mark started yelling, "Look, look, look!" With such urgent and descriptive instructions, Denisa didn't see anything at first.

Then she spotted the furry guys, as they dipped into the water under the ledge of the picture above.

That pile of sticks right at the top of the water was a beaver den, and two of the residents were outside playing.

While Mark masterfully kept the boat close-by, Denisa was clicking pictures of the two beavers.

We had been hugging close to the edge of the river to keep out of the way of the motor boats, and it paid off for us today. We got a front row seat, as the beavers didn't seem to mind our presence.

So that was our pleasant surprise at the end of the kayak trip--our first up-close experience with beavers in the wild.

When they turned their backs on us, they wrapped their leather-like tail around them. That was another first for us to see a tail up close.

When Mark got tired of paddling us against the current to stay beside the beaver den, it was time to head back to our camp site. It was a spring day full of great wildlife sightings on the spring-filled water of the Spring River.

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