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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DISPUTED TERRITORY

 I took a photograph of the osprey at rest as my boat passed by at a distance and beneath his tree.  Little did I expect to see an advertorial conflict occur.  There was a lot of distance from me to the osprey and I wasn't sure how the quality of the photos would be affected.  The results are acceptable I guess.
 From beneath the resting osprey came another interloper at top speed and he was heading directly toward the resting bird above.  He moved swiftly and quietly.
 He made contact with loud, multiple shrieks, talons extended and appeared determined to dislodge the resident osprey.
 The bird on the bottom tried to cling to his perch but the attacking bird's weight pushed him off balance.
 The postured and screamed loudly while making daring advances on each other.
 They chased each other through the sky briefly and returned to perches all the while crying defiantly.

 Once again they closed in struggle with talons extended.  It certainly appeared to be a serious confrontation and I'm sure it was to them.  They actually made contact twice during this argument
The attacker made one final lunge downward toward the resident osprey in an attempt to intimidate him into leaving.  It didn't work.  The attacker swooped past the resting bird with great speed and rested on a limb.  They both faced off and shrieked at each other constantly.




 More intimidating action by the interloper was to no avail.  He may as well depart to find his own territory.  This place was taken and well protected.

 Finally, the unwelcome visitor departed.
 This entire event played out in less than five minutes.  Its a matter of being in the right place at the right time and not only watching but seeing.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

THE BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERON

I've been looking for these guys all Spring and now they've finally appeared.  They were deep in island coves on Cherokee Lake this morning.  I think they've been around for a long time but have kept to cover due to the heat of day.  This morning, however, I was on the water just before the sun arose and I caught them at their breakfast time.  I might add that it was raining fairly hard too.  I love rain.


It was still dark and raining hard as I made my way along Lake Shore Drive.  The little skunk sat immobile in the center of my lane as the wheels that carried the 3000 pound critter crusher passed safely on each side of him.  He blended into the darkness of the asphalt so perfectly that the truck's manufactured daylight could not make his presence obvious.




I left home at 5 AM this morning to avoid Sunday traffic on the way to the lake and now I wait patiently for the sun to rise as I frequently do on weekends because weekends are crowded at boat ramps and I like to avoid that chaos.  


The navigation lights are inoperative on the old jon boat that I'm using today and I've learned to simply wait until daylight to launch.  I find electric circuit testing boring and have created all sorts of reasons not to spend time fixing the lights.
A guy walks toward my truck in the pitch dark and I watch his outline intently as he approaches my window.  I remember thinking, "the nerve to do that!"
"Hey buddy", he says.  "I got a quick question for ya".
Its always that way with these folks and it seems the questions are never quick and the answers even more complicated than the question.  But, I respond in a friendly, professional manner even though a synapse moving faster than light through my brain electrifies the bulge of gray matter containing sarcastic neurons making me want to reply, "I ain't your buddy".  The little positive gremlin sitting on my right shoulder screamed in my ear, "don't say it, don't say it" while the irritating little rascal sitting on my left shoulder said, "go ahead and say it!"   He turned out to be a nice guy and we had a nice discussion as we waited for the sun to arise.
 Notice the long white, trailing line of straight plumage coming from the back of the neck and falling down his back.  This bird is striking!  
The boat cruised along the shoreline at a speed little more than idle and I found my eyes riveted to a jagged rock that stood a full three feet out of the water well in front of me.  I couldn't seem to avert my eyes from the water menace no matter how hard I tried.  
I could smell the sweetness of rain in the air which always appeared around noon, and it fell in torrents on a daily basis.  It always rained this time of year.  Always, and with a vengeance.  A fog arose from the jungle floor that created a mysterious world of inexact sights and sounds that only slightly opened the adrenalin valve.  A sudden crash off to the right during the chaotic rain indicated that a tree had just fallen and the M14 rifle swung in that direction, the safety clicked off, and waited in ready as my left hand wiped the water off my face.  The monsoon rain was falling so hard it would be impossible to hear anyone's approach  More branches could be heard falling to the ground somewhere in the same direction, out there behind the fog, or was it something else?

The boat floated past the jagged rock and entered the mouth of a deep cove.  I held my arms straight out left and right and stretched the muscles in my back while tilting my head up to feel the early morning sun on my face.  Feels good to have made it.  Feels good to be alive.  48 years was a long time ago and yet it seems like yesterday.
 And yes, back lighted as usual and even rain striking the lens - an immature bald eagle.  
 The quality is terrible but I added him to my photo collection.  I had to shoot straight into the falling rain to get these shots only to end up with sub par photos.  Oh well.  Its only a blog.....


This entry had a bit of a different twist to it and I hoped you liked something different for a change.  Thanks for looking in.  I appreciate it....












Tuesday, May 12, 2015

WIND, WHITE CAPS & STORM THREAT

Cherokee Lake was a terror today.  The wind whipped across the open bays unrestrained creating two and three foot swells with wind blown white caps that tossed spray over the side of the boat.  I had heard that storms were on the way and lightning was present with high wind over on Lake Norris which lays Northwest of Cherokee Lake.  My eyes were to the sky constantly searching for tell, tell evidence of an oncoming calamity.  Cherokee is a bad lake to be on when high wind is present.
I eased around the islands that are located in the center of the lake and tried to avoid the rough water.  It was very difficult to do.

 The sun was out big time and there was no indication of storms - yet.  So, where was all this wind coming from?
I call the shot below "Frenzy".
 I've discovered that I have a new sentiment toward great egrets.  I've noticed that each one is an individual, that is to say that each has its own idiosyncrasies when searching for food, eating, perching and other activities.  For instance, I saw one fluff his feathers and shake like a dog each time he caught a fish and swallowed it.  Another gawked and rotated his head almost clear around his body before he would fly off his perch.  Yet another fished by inserting his head totally under water for ten seconds at a time.  

 They are elegant in everything they do
 Look at that poetry in motion!






 The shots below are very near to being over saturated but that's caused by a high shutter speed combined with a too high ISO.  This is the case with lenses in the 500 mm category, at least with my set up.  An ISO of around 400 coupled with a 1/300th shutter speed would have produced that soft white plumage I love on these birds.  But then, I can't be on a rocking horse boat and be creative.  It is what it is as they say.  Who's they I wonder?




 The wind abated a bit but came back with a vengeance.

Then, the fellow below passed high overhead.  I should not have raised the camera but couldn't let it go.  Boat rocking, wind blowing and me swaying on deck as the good ship idles on downstream at a breakneck 8.5 miles per hour.

Then I saw two more eagles far off in the distance.  They were too far away to achieve any semblance of good photography but I just can't let an eagle pass.  It was father who was swirling about overhead while junior flew along the tops of the trees beneath him, and the boat rocked on.
 I call these kinds of photos documentary photos.  They are not indicative of any photo quality but save a moment in time that is important to me.  Dad is above and his youngster is below.....

 Junior is really buzzing along at top speed.  I wish you could realize how fast they move.

 Their maneuverability is amazing.  I've seen them fly at top speed through and in between large and small branches that were covered with full foliage and not be hindered in the least.  I remember a hen turkey once that my golden, Douglas startled and it flew through some hemlocks, knocking down every dead branch in every tree as it flew straight through the wall of foliage.  Not so the raptors.  Owls are another story altogether.  They are as spirits when they fly through heavy foliage.  They are "wow" birds when in flight, but bald eagles aren't too shabby.
 If only the water were smooth.  I had to throw out numerous shots that would have been super keepers and these were very high ISO.  Had to use ISO 1500 in order to use a very high shutter speed to overcome the rolling of the boat.  It happens.





 Pretty girl, I think girl.



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