Tuesday, April 28, 2009


click picture to enlarge I did some house chores this morning early and decided to take the canoe out. I needed to stop at Home Depot in Maryville and I needed a haircut too. I could achieve both these ends if I could be satisfied putting the canoe on Ft. Loudon lake. My disdain for Loudon Lake is simply that every conceivable type boat on the planet can be found on it. That, to me, removes the element of pristine, natural beauty. The interstate can be heard constantly and endless rows of homes exist on both sides of the lake as far as the eye can see. Boat drivers come in all varieties and the less than desirable ones seem to gravitate to this particular lake. They seem to have to get someplace and get there fast, all the time. I guess it's close to the city of Knoxville and access is easiest. After my haircut I was set. I gave my friend Shaun a call to see if he was up for a paddle this afternoon. He was. A half hour later we were on the water. There was one little surprise. Shaun brought his little darling daughter Abby with him. She is as sweet as sugar and cute as a button. We launched the boats at the boat ramp located in Lewisville and headed up stream; a long, long way. This was the most lengthy paddle trip I have yet taken. I can't put a mileage on this trip but I assure you it was a big un. The funny thing is that it didn't even bother me in the slightest. The only thing I can think of as a potential problem is that the palms of my hands were starting to feel tender as if blisters might appear. That is from constant rotation of the paddle in the power hand due to correction strokes. Other than that; no big deal. We drove straight across the lake and up the side to a cove with shallow water. I started to take pictures. Shaun was doing great paddling that 85 pound canoe. I don't know how he does it so well. I should have read the owners manual more thorough before putting this camera to the test. A great photo opportunity presented itself in the form of a Osprey fishing. Then of an Osprey diving on the boat. Pretty neat! The problem is I didn't have the white balance set correctly and the "sky" background is overpowering the subject due to it's brightness. I'll get to the bottom of that tonight. But the pictures are interesting anyway. As long as I put a tree or an embankment behind the subject; I got a crisp shot. But the sky as a backdrop is another story. Still interesting shots. The Osprey caught a fish and was flying with it. An Osprey flyby.......... I finally let the Osprey land and enjoy his catch. I was hoping to get a shot as he ascended to the nest. This is a sandpiper. It's a tiny little five or six inch bird that flits from rock to rock picking up insects. It can be found scratching about in the sandy soil of the shoreline. Their neck rocks to and fro with each step. It is humerus to watch. A nifty little bird. That's sort of how the day went. Nothing fantastic. Good company and a pretty little girl who giggles and has shining eyes. Now; to finish mowing grass........

Monday, April 27, 2009


click on photo's to enlarge (hopefully) I got a late start today and resigned myself to taking the Gheenoe to Ft. Loudon Lake. I don't usually use Fort Loudon due to the heavy boat traffic and civilized scenery that lines both shore lines for it's entire length. But I wanted to feel the Gheenoe under my feet for a change. Its been hectic week for me and I needed to just sit back and push the throttle. As I cruised up the lake I noticed cormorants and great blue herons everywhere I looked. There were lots of tree swallows and an occasional osprey. I noticed a channel turning off the main lake that I had never been on. I can't believe it. I know this lake in it's entirety and I missed this cut off somehow. Of course, I took it. To my surprise there were no houses anywhere. Wow! The Realtors missed this. As the boat proceeded; the depth decreased. As I rounded a bend in the channel; I couldn't believe my eyes. There were birds everywhere. There were fish jumping. Two bald eagles soared high above me. Is this really Fort Loudon Lake? The camera was tucked away and impossible to bring to bear. All stop. I opened the camera back pack and removed the new Canon D50 equipped with a 300 millimeter lens. This was the first time I would use this camera. Some of the photos in this blog entry may be a bit blurry due to my inability to utilize all the camera features. This thing is a computer with a lens. The water depth decreased to one foot and I shut the motor down and put the electric motor in the water. Egrets and herons are a bit on the sensitive side so I decided to let the 300 millimeter lens do the job. All photos in this entry were taken at great distances. I'm not sure they will enlarge if clicked upon. The great blue heron is a very common lake bird but a beautiful one. They are interesting to watch fishing. Their movements are ultra slow as they skulk along through the shallows. But they move like lightning when they strike at a fish. They are impressive in flight. And what would a bird watching day be without a blue jay? The cove contained great egrets, canada geese, great blue herons and mallard ducks. As I pressed the shutter button down to take a picture of this egret; a bass jumped clear out of the water and startled me. The photo is a bit blurred but, the splash from the bass is apparent. That would have been a one in a lifetime shot. The heron is the stealthiest of hunters. He's caught a small fish Wild geese could be seen wandering on the shore line. A more careful look indicates they have newly born chicks. One of the most difficult tasks in wildlife photography is photographing water turtles. I have tried and tried and the little critters simply slide off their resting places and fall into the water with plop, plops. The canoe allows me a chance, at least, of getting closer than normal. Even the canoe does not fool the wiley tortoise. Below are some beautiful specimens of eastern spiney soft shell turtles. Note how pointy their noses are. The shells are covered with fairly evenly spaced dots that appear to be about an eighth inch in diameter. They are warey. One turtle kept watching me by looking back at me while facing the other direction. Nothing gets past their ancient eyes and minds. They are fascinating and beautiful creatures. The spiney soft shell turtle. Below is the turtle that was watching me. His neck is extended and his head is swiveled around to the rear. Hum! What's that beside the log in the water? As I drove back toward the boat ramp; I went under a bridge. Above me were swallows by the hundreds. If you look closely you'll see a few in flight about the nests. They kept popping in and out of their mud homes. That is it for this entry. I only had a couple hours to be on the lake but it was time well spent. I always find unusual sights to capture in a camera. Nature is beautiful and glorious. I hope you enjoy the pictures. And I hope they enlarge when clicked upon with your computer mouse. I can't tell if they will at this point in this entry. I appologise for any less than perfect photos. They will improve as I learn the intricacies of this camera. Until next time; think green........Green's a great color. Or think red if you want.