Catfish are jumpin'
That paddle wheel pumping
Black water keep rollin' on past just the same...
The Doobie Brother's anthem to the Mississippi is just as appropriate to the black waters of the St. Johns river cypress swamp in Florida. Dark and dank hardly begins to describe it. Even with the fresh emerald carpet of spring, a offering to January's sun, the swamp projected haunting chill. It felt as there was nothing for miles but 'gator teeth and snakes for company.
The bald cypress, Taxodium distichum bore witness to previous black waters, the tannins permanently etch the high water lines onto the trunks.
As we exit the swamp, an island of cabbage palms sported the highly recognizable Red-faced Mullet Bird, sometimes known as the Crested Caracara. This species is endangered in Florida and generally known only to small portion of central Florida, Texas and Mexico.
A member of the Falcon family, these nearly two foot high birds with a 4 ft. wingspan are easily recognized at any speed or distance. Often found feeding on carrion in open savanna or grassland habitat, you'll not mistake this guy for a vulture.
Which brings to mind another tune: Oh, carrion my wayward son...