Monday, November 2, 2009



It's a great morning. I left home at 10:00AM for Indian Boundary Lake. This would by my last chance to see bright Fall colors on that lake. I'm sure the leaves will be on the ground next week and I won't have another day off for six more days. I really wanted to be on Calderwood yesterday but the wind was blowing at a brisk pace at my home and I figured conditions would be worse on the lake so I stayed home and did chores. The motorcycle needed the oil changed, lawnmower (yuk) needed a new spark plug and the tires on every vehicle and trailer needed air added. The time was spent constructively.
The sun is bright and the temperature hovers near 70 degrees. I have already shed my jacket and wool sweater. My hopes are to get a picture of an otter with the 400mm lens. Also, this would be the first test of the stabilizers I attached to the canoe. It is risky business carrying expensive photography equipment around in a canoe. The stabilizers proved themselves worthwhile. Any tipping motion left or right was stopped by the pontoons. They are great. I wouldn't attach them if I were out without a camera. But, they are an insurance policy with the precious gear on board.
The below shot shows the stabilizer pontoons adjusted close to the canoe. They can be extended and withdrawn as required.
Another view below:

They look like this extended:
I adjusted them to sit just over the water. Never in the water. If the canoe tips; they will touch down and save the day; and my cameras.
My hopes are to get a picture of an otter with the 400mm lens. I have been on the lake two hours and no luck in the otter observation itinerary. I do see a kingfisher or two flitting from tree to tree. I paddled to the upper end of the lake and placed the canoe in water grass close to the embankment. The grass held the boat fast and stationary.
The camera is set. All I need is a kingfisher subject to pose for me. I say that with tongue in cheek.
Kingfishers are the most difficult bird to photograph I have ever seen. Loons are difficult but, kingfishers are next to impossible.
They seem to never settle in one spot for longer than seconds. As they stand, perched on a limb, their heads constantly move in all directions. The bird is constantly prepared for flight. Even the silence of a canoe can not approach in close proximity.
He will launch himself from the limb and rocket away down the shoreline or across the water to the other side; never toward the canoe. I saw them as I pulled into this grass but have seen none since.
Watching birds brings a thought to mind. Imagine that.....It is amazing how a tiny bird can build a nest in the thickest of growth in the largest forest, fly away to who knows where and return unerringly to the precise spot of the nest.
Think about that a minute. He leaves his nest site and flies through the most dense forest; flitting here and there and turning round and round as he perches on countless limbs and twigs. He flies near and far from tree top to ground level. He forages for food in all the forest locations. Then he flies directly back to his nest. There is no error in his course. He uses the most direct route back from wherever he is.
There is no backtracking his previous course. Isn't that an amazing quality? We humans require compass, GPS and maps to find our way back from everywhere. We rely on our brains to re tend the visual data collected while driving or walking a route so that the course can be repeated at a future date.
Even with all the technical help we forget or become unsure of a certain road or turnoff. Birds have to be admired in the natural world.
Dragon flies are everywhere. They are flying attached to one and other as well as singularly. I have never seen so many. They are on my shoulder and all over the canoe. These are Red Skimmer Dragon Flies.
They seem to be gravitating to the canoe, maybe because of the yellowish color of the boat. Some are hooked together head to tail while others fly individually. I have never seen this many at one time.
Their abdomens are red and the thorax is a buff or doe skin color. Four speckled, transparent wings are displayed, two on each side and they contain a short, narrow red line at their top edges. I shall try to photograph one so that the red lines on the wing edges are prominent in the photo.
There are six legs present. Four legs are under the thorax and two toward the rear at the tail. Something remarkable can be noted here. The fly at the rear is held in place behind the forward fly by the rear legs of the fly in front. The legs entirely envelope the head of the rearward dragon fly. The rear dragon fly is holding on to the abdomen of the forward fly with its front two of four legs.
I think I've taken a hundred photos of these little guys. They are prolific today and impossible to resist photographing.
And who is this? A newcomer:
It's OK. Harmless and there's plenty of room in the canoe for him. But wait! Now, who can this little guy be? Wow; he is tiny.
As I said in the previous blog entry; all you have to do is look and see. The key is the "see" part.
OK; the truth is that I'm getting stiff sitting in this boat waiting for a fickle kingfisher to flit by and I'm overdoing it with the camera. But, that's the way things start with me. I see something and I have to photograph it. One thing leads to another and that to another and another and on and on. I think I better get down the lake.

Arrrgggg! A human is walking on the trail that goes around the lake and he has the sports station on. Some commentator is espousing his views on a recent football game and something about black football uniforms. The sound carries across the water clearly. Can they not leave the ball game at home with the radio for even a few hours. Great Scott!!!!!
Well; no self respecting kingfisher will tolerate that noise so I may as well paddle down the lake. This has been a great spot to sit at. I guess I don't own it. This place belongs to everybody. It is beautiful and serene. I just wish folks would respect it more, I guess.
If I want to find isolation I need to go on Calderwood. Ahhhhh; sweet wilderness.........
I guess all the tourists noise has the otters deep in their dens. There are a few ducks out. These are ring neck ducks.
The otters will probably wait until the din of children at play and camper generators all go away. That's all ok. I got to cruise around the lake once and experience the over abundance of dragon flies. I can only stay about four hours here. I must return home and load up the dogs and get them to the lake and woods. They need to burn off some boredom and get exercise. We'll all go to the hiking trail at Tellico Lake near my habitat den. I mean home........

I got home in time to take the dogs down to the lake. If I don't get them out today it will be another six days before their chance to swim and run through the woods will happen for them.
Tellico Lake is mirror finished and calm this evening. The Fall colors are bright in the soft light of late afternoon. The reflections in the calm water seem to magnify the saturation of the colorful forest.
Nature is painting the landscape with her broad brush. She also is making a strong statement. The statement is written with the falling leaves and the cold late evening temperatures.
A gray time is nearing. Winter seems to place a period at the end of the previous warm seasons and all that occurred in them. It is a division between them and the following new life bringing warmth of the next Spring. Winter appears, at times to me, to be the final curtain on the Spring, Summer and Fall shows. Nature rehearses and prepares for the next Spring show during the bleak Winter months. Occasionally she will toss out a morsel of beauty onto the Winter landscape to tease the human elements who live and play in the cold weather. I appreciate her generosity.
I probably won't be on the lakes as much this cold season. Gasoline is going up and my income has gone down. This past year has been a difficult time making ends meet and still getting out to the wilderness.
I can not resign myself to staying inside gazing at a television set. For one thing; I don't own one. The dogs and their well being come first and foremost. They are my family.
No; its not the end. I'm just pulling in the reigns a bit. There will be plenty of outings to talk about. I hope you enjoyed this one. Until next time; be kind to a dog. They really need your empathy.
My girl Shade enjoying her life. She would not be alive today had I not been in the right place at the right time. PS: don't forget you can click on the photos to enlarge them