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Friday, February 16, 2018

Paddling Davis Bayou

Our big reason for camping at Davis Bayou Camground in Gulf Islands National Seashore was to have a chance to paddle through the channels and wetlands of Davis Bayou.  We arrived yesterday, and got right out on the water today.  Here's Kathy eagerly holding her panel and signaling her plan to launch her kayak!

We didn't have a chance to check the tide levels before paddling.  When we visited the Visitor Center this morning, we learned that we would be paddling at just after low tide.  This would mean that we would not be able to paddle as far up the channels as we would have liked.  But this was still our first chance to use our kayaks and explore Gulf Coast waters in about a month.  Below, Kathy starts our expedition as we leave the parking area:

We had three channel systems to explore in Davis Bayou.  We couldn't explore out into the main waters toward the barrier islands because of very strong currents and winds, but these channels offered plenty of interesting things for us to see.  We worked our way up the first of the channels:

Along the waterways, we found evidence of old piers and docks, no longer used:

Here is a view south, out toward the barrier islands.  In the bright sun and blue sky of the afternoon, the water glistened like so many jewels:

One of the first shorebirds we spotted was this beautiful Snowy Egret, whose feathers nevertheless appeared blue - we assume from the blue light of sky reflected up on him from the bayou waters:

The park road for Gulf Islands National Seashore crosses an arm of the bayou on a causeway.  One section of the causeway bridged deeper water, which we braved to see what wildlife we might spot on the upper reaches:

We were amply rewarded!  This osprey sat on a tall dead tree, holding a fish it had just caught, trying to decided whether to make a meal of it in place, or fly off with the fish to escape our predatory gaze:

We heard from a nearby hiker that this upper water harbored a family of river otters, but we did not spot them - possibly because we couldn't get too far upstream due to low tide.  We paddled back down toward more open water, and Kathy took her turn ducking under the causeway bridge:

Across from the causeway, this very large alligator sat, sunning and watching the tourists.  s/he seemed to be particularly wary of us, and we took care not to paddle too close, for fear of pushing her to protect her territory or nest:

Having explored two of the streams feeding the bayou, we continued in search of the third.  We worked our way out toward the point, beyond which lay open waters.  It resembled a tropical island in the bright blue sky:

Due to low tide, the third channel didn't allow us to paddle far upstream, although we discovered that it flowed just below the Visitor Center for Gulf Islands National Seashore, and we enjoyed looking back at the viewing platforms from our water vantage point.

Working our way back to our boat ramp, we spotted a fisherman, working his way through the shallow water in his flat-bottomed boat, casting periodically for what we assumed were mullet.  These little fish, ranging from 6 to 12 inches, fascinated us with their acrobatic leaps out of the water and their flight across up to 6 feet of water as they chased bugs skittering along the water surface.

We wrapped up our paddle by sidling up to the boat ramp, easing our kayaks out of the water, and already plotting our kayak of these waters on Sunday, closer to high tide.

1 comment:

  1. We have been told by locals that egrets are the color of what they eat. So during a swap tour several years ago the egrets were pink/red from eating crawfish. So maybe the blue colored egrets you saw ate blue crabs. Bobbie


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