Sunday, December 11, 2016

12/10 and 12/11 Eagles, Manatees, Black Vultures, Oh my

When we left Astor, we didn't know the best part of the St. John's River was ahead of us.  It is just beautiful.
As the river narrowed, it became even more scenic.  There were birds everywhere.
 I was so excited when I saw not one, not two, but three bald eagles.  I might have been able to get better pictures, but I got so excited looking at them through my binoculars, I missed them.

We arrived at Hontoon Island State Park.  It is very remote here. 
I obeyed the alligator warning signs but took a hike to the Indian Shell Mounds.  This area is very interesting and in the 50's and 70's Native American Totems were found.  The hike was under the coastal hammock of trees.
Towards the end, I passed a large swamp.
I also ran across this Coast and Geodetic Marker.
  Huge black vultures fill the skies here.  They flock to the trees to roost for the night.
We didn't do it intentionally, but we arrived in time for the boat parade.  There were about 25 boats in the parade.  We are not even sure where they all came from.  We turned on our Christmas lights, listened to Christmas music and had some wine as they boats went passed.

I liked this floating rubber ducky with a Santa hat.

12/11 Sunday-a day for manatees.
The dinghy was dropped in the water.  We took the dinghy about 3 miles up the river to Blue Springs State Park.  Blue Spring keeps the water near the spring at about 74 degrees.  Manatees flock to the area in the winter.  As we cruised there, we saw many manatees and birds along the way.  At the State Park, they have built a walkway along the spring where one can view the manatees.  There are hundreds of them there.  Mother manatees and their young huddled together. 

Some were quite large.
How many manatees can you count in this picture?
   Look carefully to see two large turtles on that log.

Back at Hontoon State Park, there was a deli across the water.  We took the dinghy there for lunch.  Back on our dock, this bird was waiting for us.
I am so glad we made this side trip on the St. John.

Tomorrow, we will head back down river toward Jacksonville.  We will take a few days to enjoy the scenery some more.

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