I will add two cents about slackwater canoeing: It's a sport for folk who like movies in slow motion; and a good run bears a strong resemblance to a grand old-fashioned amusement park ride.
We'll start with Haw Creek, northeast of Ocala. This shot (above) is as I took it. Most shots in this post were taken from our canoe, on the water; if not, it's noted. The blue is a Little Blue Heron and to his left is an immature Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.
Birdwatchers + canoe + Powershot = PhotoShop! Below is the best one of the Immature Yellow-Crowned, cropt and sharpened. Haw Creek was about half covered with duckweed, and required faith to launch. We did eventually find clear water.
The Sandhill Crane is one of the most majestic birds in FL. They are always easy to identify because of their call, a rolling grinding mutter that sounds like "grullyo, grullyo." For you horse color fans: the Spanish word 'grullo' comes from this bird. The color of the horse was exactly the gray color of the cranes.
Next, still on the St John's, we were out south of the Jolly Gator marina off Hwy 50, heading for Puzzle Lake.
A fine Common Egret (Great Egret). This shot has been cropt and straightened; I'm still working on getting my horizons level.
There is a 4-mile dirt road along a canal at the mouth of the Withlacoochee, where it reaches the Gulf. The mighty With, we call that river. These 2 pix were taken from a beach accessed by the road.
Every Florida canoe trip includes some new rivers we haven't tried before. One such this trip was the Tomoka, off the east coast north of Daytona Beach. The weather was cloudy but it didn't rain. I have brightened up these Pileated Woodpecker shots. Capturing these hard-to-shoot birds was a high point for me.
On the same Withlacoochee canal dirt road, we saw a Black Crowned Night Heron in a huge juniper bush. Here is where my sense of time gets kind of hazy and so does my focus! At first the bird is all but unfind-able. Look in the lower right quarter of this unretouched shot:
This Yellow-Crowned was visible on a short trail in the Savannah Wildlife drive. Other birders pointed him out to me. There was supposed to be a reflection in the waters below, but I missed it with the camera.
Without a doubt, this is my best shot of a Yellow-Crowned. And about the closest I've ever been to one, too.
He did not seem to be afraid. That's one thing about canoes and kayaks: they're quiet and slow, and birds don't seem to be alarmed quite so much.
Near the end of our trip we found ourselves in Dunellon, the jumping-off point for Rainbow Springs and more stretches of the Withlacoochee. The With here is residential. Looking at people's waterfront property is some of my favorite paddling activity. Here is a fine male Anhinga on a dock post.
A last rara avis, which I can't resist putting in, is this magnificent Wooden Golden Eagle, spotted on someone's staircase deck in the backwaters of the With near Dunellon.