Thursday, June 28, 2007

IN SEARCH OF THE SKUA ON CARTER LAKE

Carter Lake is located midway between Atlanta and Chattanooga. It is a pristine, non-populated lake, and its gorgeous! Scenery is spectacular! It is here we went in search of the Skua. Janet had heard of the bird through her birding friends. It has been sighted on this lake every day for the past week. We drove there today.
The Skua is a seabird. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long distance migrants. They eat fish, offal and carrion and many chase gulls, terns and other seabirds to steal their catches. They commonly eat lemmings, and the eggs and young of other birds. They are a medium to large bird, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They sport longish bills with hooked tip, and webbed feet with sharp claws. At first glance they appear to be a gull, dark in color. The bird, which is the subject of our search, must have had his natural instinctive geographical road map altered someway. He is certainly far off course. His appearance here in Tennessee is testimony to natures way. The weak and less than adequate are not permitted to breed and pass on their defects. This bird's destiny is to be alone until death. I fear that has happened as we could not find it. Every cove and piece of lake was covered. We could not have missed it. The Skua is out of its element. And in this case; the element will claim victory. And I'm sure it has as it has been seen daily and even hand fed on different areas of the lake by boaters. A picture of it rests in the local marina, taken just a day ago. We searched for hours and nothing. I can only assume the worse. Tragic but necessary to the breed.
I thought it unusual for all these trees to be so thin. Many forests were flooded when the impoundments were created, but the trees were thick. It didn't take long to figure out. The sonar indicated depths of 50 and 60 feet here. These were the tip tops of the flooded trees. Their trunks and larger girth were at the bottom. Floating on the tops of trees----------a novel idea.
A view out from one of the larger coves on Carter Lake
These deer were delightful to watch. They didn't stay long. Note the velvet on the antlers.
They're always there. The clean up crew.
Dinner! Yea!