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Friday, February 25, 2022

Paddling Round Island near Fort Pierce, FL

Friday, February 25, 2022

Hi Blog!

After taking care of business this morning, we took our kayaks over to Round Island Riverside Park. This Indian River County Park includes a paved parking lot, two boat ramps, canoe launch, picnic pavilion, and a 400 foot boardwalk to observe the manatees - all for free! 

Since we got a late start, we actually met several groups coming back from their paddles. They told us there were manatees in some of the coves. We set out to track down the elusive manatee.

We found a brown pelican perched on channel marker No. 1. Oh wait, that's channel marker No. 11.

As we paddled around the different islands, we came upon the lower observation deck. The folks were disappointed the water was so cloudy that they were not able to see any manatees.

The folks in the high observation platform could see further, but they still didn't spot any manatees.

We pretty much had given up finding any manatees and decided to just paddle around and enjoy the beautiful blue skies and balmy breezes.

As we rounded a small island, we noticed the bridge where we launched our kayaks. There was a family on top pointing to the far right corner of the cove.

As we made our way around, we saw a little snowy egret.

Just past the egret was a disturbance in the surface of the cove. It looked like a turtle or perhaps a palm frond. Having never kayaked with manatees before, we weren't sure exactly what they looked like in the water. Dave carefully approached because it is illegal to bother them. Sure enough, it was a mother and her calf.

The calf slowly sunk down as Dave approached, but the mom stayed calm.  As Dave stopped his kayak, the calf slowly rose back to the surface.  Not wanting to bother the madonna and her offspring, we carefully paddled away and continued our exploration of the small islands around Round Island. There are a few private lots next to the the park. Each property had their own dock. The only ones using the docks were a pair of cormorants.

Here is right cormorant:

Here is left cormorant:

Here is a really cool photo looking under the dock.

While we didn't see as many birds as we have on other paddles, we were constantly entertained by the dancing and jumping mullets as they leaped out of the water to escape capture. 

Just as we were returning to the launch area, we spotted this immature ibis fishing in the shadow of the mangroves.

The Brown Pelican is a comically elegant bird with an oversized bill, sinuous neck, and big, dark body. Squadrons glide above the surf along southern and western coasts, rising and falling in a graceful echo of the waves. They feed by plunge-diving from high up, using the force of impact to stun small fish before scooping them up. This one is taking a rest from his stunning labors on channel marker No. 10.

Returning toward our launch site, we were surprised to see No. 11 still occupied by the exact same brown pellican in the exact same position.

The fishing pier still had a few hopeful fisherman.

The bridge leading to the observation towers allows hikers to look down on the manatees.

We only had time for a two mile paddle, but we were able to get in and around several coves. At one point, we were completely surrounded by jumping mullet. While we couldn't actually see the sting rays, we were pretty sure we disturbed a couple as we entered a shallow cove. From the sandy cloud and strong wake they left, we knew we disturbed something big. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water.

Tomorrow, we have some repairs to do on the RV, but hope to get out and enjoy the Stuart Arts Festival this weekend. Stay tuned.

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