Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Talking Picture Postcard - Mangrove Creek Songs

My favorite kayaking destination here in South Florida is any waterway that takes me though a tunnel formed by mangrove trees, a path that almost blocks out the sky above and forces me to inch along a glassy smooth tidal creek deep in the back country.

Earlier this month I spent four days paddling the 10,000 Islands area off Florida’s South West coast, putting in either at Everglades National Park’s Chokoloskee Bay ranger station in Everglades City, or off  the Tamiami Trail in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

On a Monday I quickly paddled past the off shore mangrove islands dotting the bay and entered Half Way Creek with a rising tide, utilizing the powerful tidal flows to my advantage. In about an hour I was wrapped in a mangrove canopy completely encompassing the narrow creek, all sound reduced to my splashing paddles.

Then I heard them, two different song birds, one hidden just out of sight in the thick red mangroves, it sounded like it was right on top of me, and the second, I guessed a different species, off at a distance. They seemed to be playing a duet, one trilling upward, and a moment later the closest one singing a six note refrain.

Water dripping from my paddle was the only sound between the songs. Using my recorder's built in stereo microphones I could hear in my headphones the notes echo back and forth through the mangrove tunnel and off the water. (If you’re a real sound geek, try ‘phones to hear the separation, water drip and mosquito buzz.) Then the birds flew off, leaving me in complete silence.

Halfway Creek flowed into the Left-Hand Turner River, and finally the mangrove cover opened up to small shallow ponds where sunlight rippled through tannin colored water, and when I entered Turner Lake, I paddled blue back country waters.

Turning South onto the Turner River I rode the outgoing tide back into Chokoloskee Bay, already missing my intimate mangrove tunnels and their hidden singers

Here's a link to more multimedia photography Talking Picture Postcards.

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