Friday, July 22, 2011

Everyone meet Taiga

I just got a new paddling and hunting buddy. On Monday July 18th Zoe and I picked up our new puppy. She`s a 10 week old yellow lab. We`ve named her Taiga which is Russian for boreal forest. It`s been a while since I`ve had a puppy and I`ve forgotten how much work it is to do the house training. She is very smart and has learned her name already and is beginning to catch on to the preliminary obedience training (come, sit, stay, fetch) that I`m doing with her. We`ve put the canoe on the ground so she can get used to it and I`m happy to say she has taken to it quite well, she`ll jump in on her own and hang out for a couple of minutes. I like to think she is a natural born canoe dog. Both Taiga and I can`t wait to begin retriever training.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Paddling with Dragons

Zoe and I spent the day paddling on the Hillsborough River which flows through the Wilderness Park Wildlife Preserve in Tampa Florida. The preserve occupies 16,000 acres right in the middle of Tampa and is recognized as one of Florida's best places to view wild life. We rented a canoe from the local canoe outfitter Canoe Escape and decided to paddle 8.5 miles on theHillsborough River from the put in at Sargeant Park to the Trout Creek Park. The trip started out sunny and dry but after just 10 minutes on the water it started to rain. It poured again!!!! It seems that each time I go paddling it rains. What is with that, Sheeesh. We remained soaked for the rest of the day but fortunately the temperature was warm, around 80 degrees F (26 degrees C) so we stayed warm. Despite the rain we had a fantastic day on the water. The river is very picturesque as it winds lazily through swamp land. Much of the river runs under a thick canopy of vegetation, trees thick with Spanish Moss and vines hanging down into the water. There were many trees that had fallen into the water that we had to maneuver around and a couple spanned the entire river. One we had to get out and drag over and the other we were able to lay down in the canoe and float under. We saw lots of turtles, alligators, and many different species of birds. All in all this was a great way to spend the day and Zoe and I enjoyed it a great deal.

Long the river we came to a nature center called, Natures Classroom. There must have been 50 or 60 Black Vultures in the trees and on the ground.

There were many cormorants along the river. This one was particularly cooperative and stayed still as we floated by.

I am not sure what this one is but he was very focused on his fishing.

We saw many alligators on the river. This was one of the largest. The only way past him was around the end of the log he is on. He was not happy with us as we approached. He slowly slipped into the water and was not seen again.

The vegetation was amazing with all the Spanish moss hanging from the trees.

We got close enough to this alligator that we could have tapped him with our paddles. We didn't but he was still not pleased with us and he started hissing. At this time of year is their breeding season and the male become very territorial.

We found these little guys sunning themselves on a log. We didn't stick around too long cause we didn't know where the mom was. Female alligators take care of their young for up to 5 years.

Spanish moss on a tree.

We saw many turtles sunning themselves along the way. This guy was close to 12 inches long.

We had to maneuver around and under many fallen trees.

Google Earth image of the Wilderness Park Wildlife Preserve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I got wet! Again!!!

Thunder storms and torrential down pours seem to be a running theme for most of my out door pursuits this year. This time I wasn't paddling on a river, rather I was out scouting for deer. Actually it was more of an excuse to get out of the city. We had just got out of the car at one of my favorite hunting spots when I noticed a couple of nice white tail bucks only 75 yards away and as we were watching them threw the binoculars a cotton tail scampered by so close that he could have tripped over our feet. We took these two sightings as a good omen as we excitedly organized our selves. We had anticipated a bit of rain later in the evening but what we were in for was entirely different. As I made my way to a little clearing in which I wanted to sit I flushed out a nice looking doe that didn't seem all too concerned about me. She busted out of the brush and stopped maybe 75 yards away and stayed there for nearly 10 minutes watching me.

I had just settled into a nice little hiding spot when the rain began to fall. It started as a few drops and slowly increased until the rain seem to be coming in sideways. Man it rained hard. By the time I ran the 1 km back to the car I was soaked! We decided that we should get out of there before the field got too soft to drive on.

The storm however was short lived and when it passed the sky was quite amazing. There were interesting cloud formations as well as a great sunset. In total we saw 15 deer, one bunny, and a couple of coyotes and a really great sunset.

An amazing sunset after the storm had passed

Some interesting cloud formations

At times the rain seemed to be coming in sideways

This doe stood and watched me for nearly 10 minutes. I wonder if she had a fawn near by.