February 25-March 4, 2021 Most Recent Posts:
Silver Spring State Park The Perfect Way to Start Any Day
Silver Spring Florida First Days at Silver Springs State Park
Sorry I’m so far behind and haven’t posted for 2 weeks. That’s clearly no way to get caught up to the present which is my goal. I’ll plead way too many pictures and videos to go through for my two week stay at Silver Springs. Literally hundreds.
As I said previously (see post links above), I spent two weeks at Silver Springs State Park and kayaked nearly every day.
The two previous posts have shown what I saw in some combination nearly every day. Wood Ducks, Manatee, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, turtles, many gators, Green Heron, Pied Billed Grebe, Common Moorhen. I could show many more pictures of all of them and these deer on the path I took every morning down to the boat launch. But the one thing I saw multiple times that I have not yet shown is the monkeys. This post is heavily but not entirely monkey.
I really never know if I will see the them or not. I have seen them on both sides of the river on previous visits but this time I saw them mostly on the Fort King Trail. So of course that’s where I headed almost every day.
I went out early in order to have the river to myself as much as I could. Thus it was often misty which gave it a wonderful other worldly feel.
Gators were all around and often not that easy to see. Don’t they look sneaky.
Limpkins on the other hand draw serious attention to themselves with a call that sometimes sounds like a woman screaming in distress. Once you hear it, you’ll forever know it.
Most of the river was wide open but there were some wonderful spots like this as well.
The turtle line up was a very common sight. Check out the flying feet on the left.
Also common was my friend Pam’s favorite bird, the Anhinga, drying her wings (brown neck not black). I actually seldom saw him in the water fishing. But I did often see the Cormorant in the water. Click here to see this this video of him either cleaning his feathers or just having a great time splashing around.
I have to really listen to find the monkeys if they are in the trees rather than rustling around on the ground.
Click Here for a video of this fella reacting to a barking dog. I could not figure out where the dog was since I was at the end of the Fort King Channel and not near the spring head. He repeated this behavior several times but I only caught it once on camera. It was so funny. I apologize for the jumpiness of the all the videos. It’s hard to hold the camera over my head with the kayak moving.
Click here for a second video of this guy just waltzing along the tree branch. Keep your eye open for the one who swings into view above him.
Hundreds of Rhesus Macaque monkeys have lived near what was the Silver Springs Tourist attraction since the 1930’s.
I have read that the monkeys were brought to Silver Springs by an entrepreneur named Colonel Tooey, who operated a Jungle Cruise boat ride. He built up an island in the shallow Silver River and planned to put monkeys there at some point in 1938, with the idea of boosting his revenue.
However, Colonel Tooey apparently thought he was getting a shipment of (non-swimming) squirrel monkeys. Instead, he got six rhesus monkeys. “The monkeys were swimming off the island before Colonel Tooey could get back to his boat!
I love to watch them swing through the trees but this is as close to a picture of that as I’ve ever gotten. Click here for a short video that shows them using all 4 “hands” to hold on and move through the trees. A sort of swing is at the very beginning. Wish I were a better videographer.
For my other friend named Pam, Pam Sprouse, who worries about alligators, this is about as close to them as I get. All other shots are zoomed.
But aren’t they great looking? In the wild, they can live 50 years and scientists say the species is more than 150 million years old, managing to avoid extinction 65 million years ago when their prehistoric contemporaries, the dinosaurs, died off. They really do look prehistoric. Remember the sneaky picture at the beginning of this post.
Another favorite sighting of mine while paddling is the manatee which are very hard for me to spot and photograph due to the water’s reflection. His gray “tail” is right along side my boat.
Because they are so hard for me to spot in the water, I often only know they are around when they come up for air and I hear this giant breath which can scare the bejeebers out of me.
I know you’ve always wanted to see a manatee nose close up, so here it is.
When they leave the surface after a breath, some times they raise up and deep dive. Their backs come out of the water. That’s not a giant turtle shell, it’s a manatee back.
Black Crowned night heron. Wish you could hear him bark. Here’s a link to All About Birds if you’d like to.
It’s a little cool for sun bathing in my opinion but he seems to think it’s fine.
Or is he resting after dinner and the dinner is in that baggy throat?
Alligators “usually” eat only things they can swallow in one piece. That does include turtles and ducks. Look at the size of that mouth. And with a biting force of 2125 psi they can make short work of most things.
Another rare sight for me is turtles swimming in the water. Or I should say I spot their noses just before they disappear below the surface. So this is a rare picture. I usually only see them sunning and not often with Wood Duck companions as above.
I don’t think it’s possible to be unhappy on the water.
So perfect he looks like a decoy.
My birding friend Laurel consulted with Eric who is pretty much a pro and they tell me this is an Eastern Kingbird. I have trouble with so many LBBs. (little brown birds)
An estimated 200 Rhesus Macaques live along the Silver and Ocklawaha Rivers in several troops.
I didn’t want this post to be about nothing but monkeys so I’m tossing in other things I saw on my way to and from my visits with them.
I’m very excited about this picture of the Belted Kingfisher. He is so fast and seldom sits still.
Here are some good looks at Mr and Mrs Wood Duck. You don’t even want to know how many pictures I have of the many Wood Ducks on this river. They are just so gorgeous I can’t help myself.
My final visit with the monkeys was another camera over my head experience as they were up in this large tree on the left and I was in the water below having to deal with the current which pushed me under the tree and beyond. I had to turn the kayak around, paddle back up and try again many times. It is very unwise to nose into the bank where they are. The monkeys are wild and aggressive due to foolish people feeding them.
The next few pictures are of them grooming. If you aren’t tired of monkey videos by now, there are some links below which show them grooming.
I suppose he’s waiting his turn on the lower branch. This video shows 3 of them fiddling around before hand. Mom knocks one of them back but he rebounds with ease.
Aren’t these great? Grooming close ups.
I was just amazed to watch this family grooming and stayed for as long as I could keep the kayak under the tree. It’s much easier without taking pictures and SO much easier not doing video. Here’s the video I took.
I’ll close with what is not my best picture of the monkeys but it is my best of their hands. Amazing. Look closely. We are all related. Scientists say these monkeys are one of our closest relatives. We share 93% of the same DNA having shared a common ancestor about 25 million years ago..
I know there were a lot of videos in this post. Let me know if they were too much. This was an unusual post and there isn’t anything quite so video worthy coming up.
My next post will be my last before leaving both Silver Springs and Florida. I’ll take you hiking, show the trails map and some pictures of hikes I did while here. Hope you’ll come back.
Wonderful kingfisher and wood duck photos! I’ve been trying to spot kingfishers in SE Texas but no luck. Then we had to head out. Always wanted to see the monkeys but never did. Glad to see them here.ReplyDelete
Hi Jeannie thanks so much for your comment. I'm surprised that in all the years at Sarasota you were never able to see the monkeys. Glad you could see them here.Delete
Very cute. I have not been able to see the monkeys yet.ReplyDelete
Keep trying Debbie although I know that on any given day they may or may not be around the edge of the water.Delete
A whole lot of critters.ReplyDelete
Yes William one of the reasons I love this place.Delete
I enjoyed the videos. Felt like I was out on the water with you. Those monkeys are so cute!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for letting me know. That's just how I wanted you to feel.Delete
Great photos and videos of the Monkeys!!! You really nailed the Kingfisher photo...no easy task!! Hope all is well......ReplyDelete
Glad you like them Nancy. I was worried there were too many videos but I couldn't decide which ones to leave out.Delete
Love the foggy morning sort of tempting you to paddle on for sights yet seen. The turtles seem like the comics on the scene until watching the Cormorant splashing and the monkeys dancing around. Wish my feet could grip like that. I would love to spend time with the manatees. Loved the videos.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment Gaelyn. I was amazed at how long the Cormorant spent splashing and splashing. I thought he'd only do it once so I didn't get my camera out but when he kept it up how could I resist.Delete
Kayaking always makes me immediately feel peaceful and as though all is right with the world. I love your kayak trips in the magical misty mornings. The birds are my favorites..you got great photos of the Wood Ducks! They are often so skittish. And you saw the sweet manatee. They always make me happy. Even with all of our kayaking, I'm still startled by big gators when they jump into the water as we paddle by.ReplyDelete
Just right Laurel. Peaceful is the word and so seemingly far away from all the troubles of the world. You have no idea how many pictures of wood ducks I have. Somehow they have gotten over their skittishness in the last few years. It's amazing
Wonderful, beautiful, magical, misty, Silver River. Love seeing it so rich and full of life. I am reasonably certain that there is not a single place out west where you will see this much concentration of wildlife in any one place. Especially in winter. Not one place, Sherry. We have wonderful wildlife, beautiful sightings of lovely water birds, but not this variety, and not easy to find. Klamath Basin is the best I know of but nothing like Florida. So that is all I can say about where you might go out west. Sigh.ReplyDelete
Love your description of the river Sue it's exactly right. When David and I were out west together we definitely found magic of a different kind. And we never made it to the Pacific Northwest before his illness contained our travels. Still on my bucket list but I'm trying to figure out the logistics.Delete
The monkey pictures and videos are fabulous! I love the ones of them grooming each other. Those grooming close ups are great! The one reacting to the barking dog seems worried. Alligators are scary looking. If the cormorant who was diving and splashing was trying to catch a fish, he would've scared them all away with all of that splashing! Always love turtles! I didn't think that an alligator would eat a turtle. What about the shell? xxxoooReplyDelete
So glad you like the pictures and videos Pam. I've seen the Cormorant when he's fishing and he's sleek and very fast. The alligators Jaws can easily crack a turtle shell into pieces. Over 2000 pounds per square inch of pressure.Delete
Sherry your photos are amazing. Good job. I had no idea there were monkeys in FL. And big ones and so many! Beautiful, thank you.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the comment Flowergirl. Of course the monkeys aren't native to Florida but they have adapted very well and are quite fun to watch.Delete
Wonderful photos and videos. There can never be too many.ReplyDelete
Oh good Kathy I'm glad you didn't think there were too many videos.Delete
Great photos and videos! So neat to see and hear them! So many birds! Love the moneys, gators and manatees too. Fabulous!ReplyDelete
So glad you enjoyed them. I hope you can show them to the kids. Perhaps one day you can all come there with me. They have cabins for rent at the park.Delete
Love the monkey photos — I can see them keeping you endlessly fascinated! And that one duck photo DOES look like a decoy — such a clear shot. So beautiful. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Diane how great to see you here. I'm glad you like the photos. The monkeys really are a Time sink watching them.Delete
Well, thank you for the alligator perspective. That helps some...I think!ReplyDelete
This is a magical place. I love the monkeys and remember that insane story about their origin. I have always heard that monkeys are agressive though. My cousin has a hysterical story of being stuck in a park bathroom in Thailand because of them - adorable, but not when they are expecting something from you.
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much for your comment Pam. In a previous blog, perhaps last year, I told a similar story of 4 of us paddling back to the park's ramp and being stuck in our boats because the troop was there and the head man wasn't interested in moving. They are aggressive and it's largely because of people feeding them and trying to act like they are pets rather than wild animals.Delete
You know I just love the Monkey pics and videos. We weren't at Silver Springs long enough to see them. You always get good shots of everything while floating.ReplyDelete
Thanks Laurie. I do love being on the waterDelete
You are too hard on yourself, you're an excellent photographer, unlike me who takes amazing pictures of my lens cap or my thumb. ;c)ReplyDelete
Speaking of being too hard on yourself. Thanks for the compliment Paul. I take too many pictures that's for sureDelete
How delightful to spend time with the monkeys!! That pic of the hands is amazing, and I love their grooming rituals. We have kingbirds as well, ours are Cassen Kingbirds and I love their delicate coloring. It's so fun that you get to spend time communing with the gators and manatee. Both so different and yet so regal in their water homes.ReplyDelete
As soon as I said earlier, this particular spot is amazing in the amount of Wildlife. The lighting in the hand picture was not good but I had to include it. Thanks for the comment Jodee.Delete
Lots of the best kind of friendsReplyDelete
I just wish we could carry on a conversation and they could tell me their tales.Delete
I think you have talked us into going here!!ReplyDelete
I love Silver Springs great pictures I especially love the one of the wood duckReplyDelete