Winging it On The Wacissa

The morning started before dawn for a handful of bird-obsessed students. Their quarry an endangered, black and white checkered, flying fellow known as the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Their quest was fulfilled when they came across a trio of the birds shortly after sun up. The Red-cockaded was by far the most notable species observed on the early morning venture, but others such as the Red-headed Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, and American Kestrel were among the notables of the 25 species seen on the walk, all before breakfast!

After the birders reconnected with the rest of the squad, the baker's dozen fueled up and whipped down to the Wacissa river. A quintet of solo kayaks, pair of double kayaks, and a couple of canoes dipped their bellies in the water shortly before noon. While paddling about, reptiles, and more birds, were plentiful. American alligators, Anoles, and Map Turtles were seen soaking up the Saturday sun, as multiple species of Egrets and Herons, a pack of Vultures, and a Bald Eagle ('Merica!) flew overhead. The gang briskly paddled up stream for a short bit to reach what has been dubbed as Big Blue, a 50-foot-deep spring caused by the karst formation of the area. Big Blue is one of a number of springs that feed the Wacissa. Upon arrival at Big Blue, lunch was unpacked and consumed, and then the crew engaged in a swinging time.

Nathen (Slim Jim) Peck was the first to mount the platform and grab hold of the rope. He began a monsoon of launches, as everyone took turns swinging from the platform and flying into the depths of Big Blue, only to resurface moments later. The highest rated launches were Slim Jim's pike, Hannah's plummet, and Thea's scoot. Once the Quakers returned to their vessels, they began to paddle back to the boat launch location. The voyage was knocked back only slightly by the wake of one of Florida's famed fan boats. This was one of the least enjoyable "new encounters" of the day. However, some friendly locals enlisted the crew in heaving the hull of a fan boat back to an upright position, and the gratitude of the Floridian's, as well as a less disruptive encounter with a fan boat, boosted the gang's morale before dinner time. As the evening meal was prepped, guitar strings were plucked, and Earlham's most novice choir hollered a number of tunes such as "Cows Have Guns" by Dana Lyons, heard earlier in the day on Florida State University radio. The meal satisfied all hunger, and the squad then dispersed to prepare for tomorrow's travel.

The day's most notable sights were certainly Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, American Alligators, White Ibis, a large Eastern Snapping Turtle, a Bald Eagle, and Big Blue!

  • Reece Zonts, first year from Elgin, IL and Ben Sniegowski, third year from Media, PA
Posted on January 09, 2022 02:35 AM by crsmithant crsmithant


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