Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Jarring and Calming on the Silver River

January 22, 2024                                              Most Recent Posts:
Silver Springs State Park Site 7         Everything was Going Fine and Then. . .
Silver Springs, Florida                         Ross Prairie and the Reservation Blues

There are many things to love about staying at Silver Springs State Park but the one I love the most is being able to take my kayak down to the boat launch and lock it up there.  That means I do not have to drive the kayak anywhere or take it on and off the car each day I go paddling.  I pull it down once on the wheels I have for it, find a place to lock it and come down every morning that I can to kayak the river.  Yes it’s perhaps a mile from the parking lot to the launch and yes it is a sandy trail and yes it is up hill all the way back when it’s time to leave, but it’s all so worth the effort to be able to kayak nearly every day.

How could I not love spending my mornings in this spectacular place?


It is simply amazing how much I see on a morning paddle of 2 or 3 hours or 4 if I get carried away.  These  photographs are all from one morning.  They are from Monday January 22nd.   This particular day had the shocking and the fantastic.  I will warn you, there is one picture showing nature “red in tooth and claw” as an alligator snatches a monkey.   I’ll let you know in advance and leave larger space before and after it so you can skip it if you like. 


Yellow Bellied SliderIMG_0940

Double Crested Cormorant
Check the blue eyeIMG_0944

Male AnhingaIMG_0948

Ibis often travel in groups and these were feeding on a mat along the shore.  This short short video shows the use one makes of his long curved bill.

On cloudy days or very cool mornings the turtles and gators may not be sunning until things warm up and/or the sun comes out. 

This gator looks  totally relaxed so casually draped over the log with a turtle lunch in reach.


Ain’t life grand he seems to be saying.

Green Heron

Tri-Colored HeronIMG_0970

Great Blue HeronIMG_0973

Black Crowned Night HeronIMG_0980

Male Anhinga drying his wingsIMG_0987

When I took this picture I did not realize the hawk had just had a hunting success. 

One of the reasons I believe that I see the diversity on this river is that is so well cared for.  The state owns both sides of it nearly its entire length and as you can see allows no fishing, no swimming, no scuba, no snorkeling and idle speed for motors though this is often disregarded.  


I have many pictures of manatee from this paddle.  I saw them several times when I was paddling up the river and when I was coming back.


I have restrained myself from posting too many of this marvelous mammal.


Wood ducks and turtles.


This young alligator still has his juvenile markings which I think are wonderful.


I saw many of each bird and of alligators and turtles and manatee during my morning.   I’ve tried not to duplicate tooo many.   The Black Crowned and the Green are my favorite herons.


I have left enough space before the next picture that if you wish to skip it, you can zoom on by.  I have really pondered whether to include this or not.   But it is a part of the natural world.

While paddling into a small cove, I was amazed to see an alligator on the bank snatch what I thought was an Anhinga or perhaps a Cormorant.  But later my close up shots of him eating his prey showed it to be a monkey.  I have several much more graphic pictures which I am not posting.  It is the only time in all my years on rivers in Florida that I have seen a gator grab something and eat it.


I felt as though I had moved from one extreme river experience to another when as I floated on down the river I was picked up by first one manatee and then by two.  The first experience was jarring and this was so very calming.


It was fantastic to have these escorts as I mostly floated  down the river and  one of the most delightful river experiences I’ve ever had.

You can see from my paddle in the pictures how close they were.


Because Manatee are so wonderful and so few people actually get to see them in the wild, I have included three short videos of them as they traveled with  me down the river.   Use these links to view them.  

The first is 10 seconds.

The second is 23 seconds.

And the third is 20 seconds.


At times they would put their noses up for air and then disappear from view.  I would be sad that they had left and then thrilled to see them reappear.

They were always close by when they reappeared and some times, as  in the picture below, going under my kayak.


The manatee escorted me down the river for nearly a mile and a half before it was time for me to leave and pull onto the campground ramp up head in the picture below.  You can see one moving on before me on my left.  They went on their way down the river.   I was SOOO  tempted to just keep by their sides.   I wonder where I would have ended up.


This really was an extraordinary day on the Silver River.


  1. You really did have a wonderful day on the Silver River! Your bird sightings were plentiful, but best of all are all of the manatee. We've kayaked Silver River several times but have never seen that many manatee. We're heading there tomorrow for a day of kayaking, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll have lots of manatee company! I couldn't tell what your gator was eating. We've seen gators get turtles and once, a Snowy Egret. I know it's nature, but it's still hard to witness.

    1. If you are reading on a laptop, click the picture and look closely. Maybe I should have posted a more graphic picture. I thought everyone who wanted to would recognize it. Hope you see the manatee too.

  2. All of the pics are great. . .I believe the alligator had a duck of some kind.

    I miss the travel life (somewhat). . .thanks for filling the void.

    1. Janice thanks so much for your comment it's really good to hear from you. What are you guys doing now? The gator had a monkey.

  3. Manatee are most definitely my fav! And the ducks were very good looking! As to the other you know what… no thank you! Looks like a fabulous day for you Sherry! Yay! 😀 love knowing you are able to be in your happy place!

    1. It was perhaps my best day ever on the Silver River. That wasn't one of my best pictures of the Wood Ducks which are gorgeous but I was only posting what I saw on this particular day.

  4. Wow, this was truly a nice adventure, one of my favorite posts. I liked how you wrote out the description right at each animal photo. Some of them are truly great!! Of course, I'm intrigued and will definitely be wanting to see more of the action photos next time we meet up...
    Thanks so much for sharing and including us in your wonderful adventure, makes me miss the manatees...

    1. It's almost too late to catch them at Blue Springs which is where they were by the hundreds in January. Don't know if they are still at Silver Springs. I love seeing them.

  5. A fabulous paddle the river, thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you for commenting and letting me know you enjoyed it Jeannie. It was fabulous.

  6. Amazing pictures that brought the river to life. I could imagine the hawk with the lizard picture or the juvenile alligator in the Sierra Club Calendar. I loved the ducks amd various herons too. The 2nd manatee video was my favorite. So close to your boat. What a thrill!!

    1. What a compliment Carrie! Thank you.
      My Manatee escort really was a thrill they were always very near my boat. All the way down the river.

  7. Wow...again. What a lovely day...

    1. It really was a lovely day. Especially the Manatee.

  8. A very eventful day for sure. Loved all the pics.

    1. Thanks Lynne. It was a great day for me. Not so much for the monkey.

  9. Just goes to show you should never monkey around gators... :cD

    1. Couldn't have said it better Paul. I did wonder if the monkey just didn't see the gator. They'd better stick to the trees.

  10. What an amazing day on the river Sherry! The Anhingas are so lovely with their regal capes - one of my favorites. Definitely a monkey but your shot is discreet enough to be informative without being gory. We've seen several "circle of life" moments in our travels, all of them remembered. Your time with the manatees was such a gift, thanks for sharing it.


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