Wednesday the girls and I took Amber and Eddie over to DeBary to take a trip on the Eco Tour Boat of this section of the St John River to view whatever wild life would show itself that day. This is a trip we've been wanting to do since we moved here almost 3 years ago now and simply have never made it around to taking this.
|The tour boat picture - courtesy of Eco Tour website|
|Eddie and Amber waiting to go|
|Lauren and Hannah|
It was a gorgeous day with the temperatures in the 70's, a nice clear sky and no humidity - perfect for this kind of trip. We began at the boat launch at the docks just behind The Swamp restaurant. Our tour guides were friendly and really informative and the river was calm and seemed to be waiting for our tour group. The first site on our trip were the vultures and one stork I failed to get a clear picture of, just at the end of the harbor area. They were busily eating "fish guts from the fisherman" as our guide said, and standing among the cypress and cypress knees near the shore line.
|Vultures enjoying their meal and totally ignoring us|
|The St Johns|
We headed out as we were given the thorough safety talk before the history lesson could start. With these as the introduction phase the tour would now begin in earnest as the first of our wildlife encounters began to show up. The first was a Blue Heron and around the next bend some Purple Gallinules and a young heron.
|Hiding among the water lily's were these Purple Gallinules|
|These had a beautiful iridescent coloring that really showed when the light caught them|
|Young Heron with it's juvenile white coloring now beginning to transition to the blues it will have as an adult|
Then would begin the siting of many gators on this trip. They began with these baby alligators that are challenging to see, but you can just make them out with their orange and black coloring on this large stick in the water. We learned that up to 80 eggs will hatch, but the majority will not live to adulthood and dad is the primary predator that finishes off these little guys.
|Look close and you can see the body and tail of one at the top portion of the stick and the head of the other near the lower half|
|Delicate and pretty features of the Limpkin|
|You can just see the top of the manatee's head and nose as it surfaces here to munch more of it's swamp salad|
|As the boat reversed it scared the manatee and I only caught this shadowy image of it diving deeper and away from us|
|The green ball in this tree is a patch of mistletoe|
|As I got ready to snap another picture it turned as if on cue to give me another view|
The turtles were also out enjoying the sun on various logs and sticks, then these Ibis sitting with their striking white color against the red leaves of this tree. I managed to only get one shot of a Warbler that was very busy and very fast as it grabbed up the bugs it was after for it's meal. So a single back side shot was all I managed to capture of this quick fellow.
|Another big gator snoozing|
|Our first sighting as we entered this area among the trees|
|What incredibly beautiful faces they have|
|Getting a fish|
|Can you tell I LOVED this part of the tour?|
|Blue Heron in the nest|
|Mate gathering sticks to add to the nest|
|This is a very young Blue Heron that doesn't have it's coloring yet|
|Our final and by far the biggest Alligator on the trip|
On the way back the 4 kids on board were each given a chance to stand behind the wheel and try their hands at steering our boat. If this was an indication of their driving skills I'll have my work cut out for me when the girls begin to drive!! (big smile here). They absolutely loved this and it made the long cruise back enjoyable for all the kids.
|Hannah's turn at the wheel|
|Lauren and I as we wait to dock|
And so ended a really nice tour that I would highly recommend to anyone living near or visiting the Central Florida area.