Blue Heron River Tours

Hontoon Landing
Resort & Marina
2317 River Ridge Road

Phone: 386-873-4843


Life is really returning to the river. Many of the migratory birds are increasing in numbers, and we are also seeing many more alligators. It's beautiful out here!!!

We have some alligators that are finally crawling out of the river and laying out on the bank and on some logs, and as things cool down out here we will be seeing more birds returning to Central Florida. We also were able to show some folks their first manatee yesterday. This is such a tough job!!!

I guess it is the summer of twins. We have been watching a female manatee in the Hontoon Dead River with two very small calves, and, also on the Dead River, a doe with two spotted fawns. We don't get to view these every trip, but it is quite a treat when we do spot them!!!

Lately we have viewed more than our share of pigs and deer. We have located a spot just off the St. Johns River where some rather large feral pigs have been rooting, and we have been lucky enough to see a few on some of our morning trips. We also enjoyed watching a doe and her two spotted fawns feeding on the bank of the Hontoon Dead River yesterday.

We watched some manatee mating today on the Hontoon Dead River (I know we should have looked away, but we just couldn't!).

We are still seeing quite a few alligators, the occasional deer and manatees more often than I would expect this time of year. But today we also spotted a pretty large pig right on the side of the river. Pretty cool!!!!!

We have spotted two alligator nests along the river, and have seen the protective females either near or on each nest. Kind of cool to see. Join Blue Heron River Tours for a trip and see for yourself!!!

Within the past few days we have seen manatees and deer on some of our trips on the Hontoon Dead River. There is always something interesting to see on a Blue Heron River Tour!!!!!

Happy 4th of July to all our friends. We enjoyed a low-level fly by from a swallow-tailed kite on our morning tour today. Also spotted a black-crowned night heron on the St. Johns River. The Hontoon Dead River was spectacularly beautiful today; a photographer's dream!!!

There has been a black-crowned night heron hanging around on the south end of the Hontoon Dead River for the past few days, which is kind of cool to see this time of year. That, along with the beautiful, lush green of Florida summer makes this a fantastic time for a cruise.

Having a bald eagle fly across the bow of the boat yesterday was a highlight of our time on the river. We also got a quick look at a couple of manatees on our afternoon trip. There is also a black-crowned night heron hanging out in the dead river that we have spotted from time to time. If you have never seen the river during the summer, you are missing a slice of wonderful Florida beauty!

Well, the Hontoon Dead River has finally reopened. The storm helped wash away the plants that were clogging the north end, and we can finally make our loop around Hontoon Island State Park again. We have been seeing swallow-tailed kites almost every day for the past few weeks, and yesterday we watched some manatees feeding south of Blue Spring State Park. It's just beautiful on the St. Johns River!!!!!!!

We saw swallow-tailed kites everywhere today. Also got to watch a deer and some turkeys. What a nice morning!!!

We are seeing deer almost every trip, and the osprey chicks are getting quite large. We also found a pair of great blue heron chicks that are just about ready to leave the nest.

So, the pair of osprey chicks turned out to be three rather than two. Momma is doing a pretty good job of shielding them from the sun, and sometimes from our view. Over the past few days we have seen a number of deer, both on the St. Johns River and back on the Hontoon Dead River. These days our area is lush, green and quite beautiful!

We are seeing a large number of fledgeling great blue herons, and are also able to watch a pair of osprey chicks developing in the nest. Todd was lucky enough to view a black-crowned night heron on the morning trip today!

Deer have been spotted on Hontoon Island over the past few days, and we are seeing a clutch of baby alligators in our canal on some of the sunnier trips. There is also a female manatee with twin year-old calves who has been feeding on the Hontoon Dead River. There is plenty of food there, so hopefully she will hang out for a while.

The osprey chicks are slowly getting larger and easier to see. We are also still seeing manatees on the Hontoon Dead River. Blue Heron River Tours at Hontoon Landing is the place to experience the "real" Florida!!!

We saw our first osprey chicks about a week ago, and have a brand new great blue heron's nest with at least one chick. There are also some manatees that have settled in on the Hontoon Dead River, including a female with twins. Should be seeing more barred owls in the next few weeks as well.

Yesterday we not only watched fawns and a raccoon, but we also saw a bared owl in the logging canal. Manatees feeding were an additional treat in the afternoon!

We watched a great blue heron eating a cotton mouth today. The snake was striking at the neck of the heron as the bird attempted to make the kill. Very cool stuff out here on the St. Johns River and the Hontoon Dead River. What are you waiting for? There is no better time to visit than now!!!!!

We are seeing a lot of alligators, including large males and females with babies. This activity will continue right through mating season in May. Come on out and see for yourself!!!

Today we saw wild turkeys fully displayed, American bitterns, many purple gallinules and a bald eagle. And this was only surpassed by the Florida black bear we sighted yesterday. I love my job!!!

There are still a few manatees around, but the alligator activity has really picked up. I think it is going to be an early year on the St. Johns river!! We actually saw eight American bitterns today, and have also been seeing quite a few green herons. What are you waiting for? Your day will always be special on a Blue Heron River Tours!!!

Wood storks, gallinules and bitterns, oh my. It's just lovely on the St. Johns River and the Hontoon Dead River. Isn't it time you saw this for yourself?????

Wow, I've been busy and haven't been here for way too long. We are starting to see great blue heron chicks on some of the nests on the river. And although the manatees are moving out of the spring, we are still lucky enough to see some most days. American bitterns have been spotted on both the Hontoon Dead River and the St. Johns River, and today we saw a number of purple gallinules and a bald eagle. It's a great time to be on the river!!!!!

Sunday we had an amazing manatee experience. Just north of Blue Spring we were checked out by two manatees for about five minutes. The pair ended up at the back of the boat, just gazing up at us, leaving us to wonder who was observing whom??? What are you waiting for? We are seeing lots of manatees on almost every trip!!! That along with a huge number of birds on the Hontoon Dead River should be enough to excite anyone! How about you????

I just don't ever remember the amount of migratory birds that we are viewing each day. If you want to see the natural side of Florida, there truly is no better time than now. Daily sightings include American bitterns, snowy and cattle egrets, limpkins, tri-colored herons, little blue herons, the occasional yellow-crowned and black-crowned night herons and more great egrets and white ibis than I have ever seen. Daily trips are running at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm!!!! Don't miss the boat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some of our birds are well into their nesting behaviors. There even appear to be one or two great blue herons that are already on eggs. It won't be long before we are seeing great blue heron and osprey chicks!!!

Happy New year!!!!!!!! 2013 is starting out as a fantastic year on the St. Johns River and the Hontoon Dead River. There are more birds and manatees around than I have seen in a long time. Just in the past few days we have seen purple gallinules, coots, white and glossy ibis, wood storks, great blue herons, little blue herons cattle egrets, snowy egrets, tri-colored herons, red shouldered hawks, bald eagles and anhingas. There are also many manatees and alligators around. Come over to Hontoon Landing and see what you have been missing!!!

It's always a great time to take a Blue Heron River Tour!

Hope to see you on the river,

Captain Gary S. Randlett