Saturday, January 21, 2012

Secrets of Myakka

Please add your email address (box at upper right) to receive notice when I add new posts. (Not too often.)  Enjoy!
Seeing the bountiful wildlife and beauty in Myakka River State Park, one might ask what wonders lie downstream?  That's what I thought anyway. Flowing south from the park, the river is relatively inaccessible, lined by large tracts of private land and few roads or bridges.  The hiking trail to Lower Myakka Lake and Deep Hole in the Wilderness Preserve is a popular hike for fishermen due to the teeming tilapia, there for the catching, (and for some of us looking to photograph alligators who also love the tilapia.) But we heard it was possible to paddle all the way from the park to a funky restaurant in Venice called Snook Haven.  After that, the river was said to become much more populous with less natural beauty.  OK. Let's paddle!

With ground support from friends of our 3rd paddler, Keith, John and I ventured forth …  and were we ever NOT disappointed!
The winds were favorable as we reached Lower Myakka Lake and I was able to sail across in my kayak at a good clip. (Sure beat having a headwind on this big open stretch of water.)
The Preserve beyond Deep Hole is shallow and full of birds, including huge flocks (like thousands!) of swallows and shorebirds, and smaller flocks of Roseate Spoonbills. A small concrete dam marks the southern boundary of the Preserve, but the river remains undeveloped for miles beyond the dam.  Wildlife – birds, gators, deer, hogs, and turtles – abound.  
The strangest thing we saw was this open-air beehive.  No dark cavity for this queen and her brood!  Bee Art for the world to see.
Swooping palms, oaks, and classic Highwayman-like scenes line this wild river.  Well, see for yourself.
Signs of civilization appeared along the banks as we began approaching I-75, so we opted to pull out a few miles upstream from Snook Haven at a small landing by Sleeping Turtles Preserve (then drove over to Snook Haven).  And while I didn’t make a photo at the "happening" Snook Haven, we did enjoy a pitcher of beer, a late dinner, and great band.  This is another Myakka destination worth visiting!

Keith was a great host in Venice. One evening, we joined a group of his friends for Yoga-on-the-Beach at Siesta Key (though yoga ended up getting rained out). Ghost-like flocks of sanderlings flowed up and down with the waves in the dusk-light... like "vapors on black-stick legs".
We also made the extra effort to visit Deep Hole late enough one day to light the gator eyes with flash.  So many eyes!  Briefly, a light misty rain delivered droplets near the camera that burst with light from the flash as well, adding to the magic of the scene.
Ahhh, Myakka aka "Big Waters", you so deserve your designation as 'Florida's first wild and scenic river'... thank you for sharing your secrets.


Anonymous said...

Hey David, Nice work. I really enjoyed the flying ducks, spoonbills, and solitary gator in the water. Ross

Connie Bersok said...

A great pictoral story of your paddling trip on a wonderful river! Thanks again for sharing these photos - I feel like I am on Myakka...

Linda Hall said...

Wow, Amazing work. How do you make the animals and nature perform for you? I think you are magic. I love the bee hive and the alligators at night the best but they are all sooooo beautiful. THank you for sharing.

David said...

The gator eyes shots are incredible, I've never seen anything like that! Great shots.

Bill Kleinfelder said...

Great story! Great photography!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Awesome! I love it! Thanks for sharing David.

Myakka said...

Lovely photos. Loved the bendy trees and the scary gator ones!