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.