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Path Thru Paradise
Article and Photos by Kathleen Walls

 

Much of central Florida is crowded with wall to wall people but here and there you find a break in the crowds. When you peer into these special spots you are overcome by the natural beauty that underlies the Sunshine State. Right in the middle of what is known as the Golden Triangle of Lake County consisting of the cities of  Eustis, Tavares and Mount Dora, there is a hidden gem, Dora Canal. The canal was dug in the 1800s to connect Lake Dora and Lake Eustis.  Although it is only about a mile long, Dora Canal is truly a path though Paradise for a kayaker or canoer.

Recently I kayaked the canal from Eustis to Mount Dora and back again. The wildlife I saw and photographed was fantastic. This is a trip everyone with a kayak or canoe should make at least once.

Dora Canal
Hard to believe this is just steps away from a busy highway.
Anhinga Dora Canal
The twisted branches and roots along the banks make perfect camouflage for the wildlife.

anhinga  drying it's wings.
This anhinga is drying it's wings. They dive deep in the canal and remain underwater a surprisingly long time as they search for food. Then they have to remain perched somewhere safe, usually a high branch, with the wings outstretched to dry before they can fly again.

anhinga
This one is ready to fly again. It's method of swimming with the body submerged
and head and neck above water has earned it the nickname of snakebird.
Cypress trees
It is believed that some of the giant cypress trees that line the banks are over 2,000 years old.

pair of anhingas
Here I came up on a pair of anhingas. Both are female because they have the tan neck.
A male would have a black neck.

Anhinga
Just one more anhinga. No more I promise. I just love taking their pictures as they pose so regally.

egret
I saw lots of egrets. They just don't pose as well as the anhingas.

Alligator
This was my favorite shot of the day. The young gator is only about five feet long. He watched me as warily as I watched him. It was somewhat of a challenge to see how close I could get before he slithered off the log into the water. He let me get as close as I dared, about five or six feet, and was still lying there when I paddled off.

If you enjoyed this article you will love this tour
Virtual Personal Tour of Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge 

 

 



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