Last weekend, we headed out of town to attend a gathering of extended family in Welaka, a small town about an hour and a half drive south of Jacksonville. It was a good day with fun people, yummy food (including roasted oysters) and beautiful weather, all topped off with a boat ride on the Ocklawaha River. It was just a short cruise from the house to the point where this 74-mile-long, north-flowing river empties into the St. Johns. The name Ocklawaha comes from the Creek “aklowahe”, for “crooked river” and that it is.
Right after we made the first turn on the river, we came upon this Great Blue Heron. So many boats go through here that the birds seem undisturbed by us. This was quite a departure from the squawking, nervous-nellie resident heron at the park behind our house.
At the next bend, trees full of Ibis. We must have seen over a hundred in total. Many were wading in the shallows, feeding away.
All along the way, turtles – really big turtles – were sunning themselves on logs:
This tree full of air plants was beautiful; my photo doesn’t do it justice:
And last: a very loud Osprey – we think it was calling to a nearby mate. We could hear it the entire ride but didn’t see it until right before we made the last turn and exited the Ocklawaha back into the St. Johns.
The ride on the river reminded me how much I love Florida’s waterways. One of my favorite books about the natural history of Florida is Bill Belleville’s, River of Lakes: A Journey on Florida’s St. Johns River. After we returned home, I pulled the book down and re-read the section about the Ocklawaha and I resolved to make more outings like this.