Tuesday, February 22, 2011


click on photos to enlarge
The time is 8AM and i'm sitting on the left bank of Abrams Creek keeping a vigil on the opposite shoreline for otters.

The rain fell intermittently all last night and was gone when I awakened this morning.  I loaded the Mistral canoe and grabbed a coffee for the road.

I noticed the lower end of Tellico Lake was nearly dry.  It was lower than last I saw it a week ago.  All that brown earth you see in the photo below should be under water.  I guess the Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, has its reasons.
An incident occurred yesterday that justifies a word or two as it almost reoccurred this morning.  I was driving my motorcycle home from a ride when a turkey flew directly in front of the motorcycle.  I couldn't miss it.  the impact broke the windshield.  The turkey kept on flying.  I was relieved it wasn't hurt.  This morning , in the truck, a turkey flew over the hood of the truck and his left wing hit the windshield.  I braked hard and the impact was minor.  That turkey also continued on his way.  Those were two very close calls.   The incident on the motorcycle cost me $280 for a new shield.  I believe in using good windshields.  Better safe than sorry.

The sky is getting darker and the threat of rain is apparent.  I'm not having much luck photographing otter this year so far.  There is always a negative circumstance that influences my success.
I've been dealing with a sciatic nerve problem for the past couple months.  It has manifested itself in my right thigh.  Now, this morning, I encountered an ache in the crook of my left arm.  Feels like a pulled muscle but I haven't done anything to cause it.  It was a chore lifting the canoe onto the truck cap this morning.  I hope this isn't the year I fall totally apart.
A king fisher has appeared on a limb of the tree in front of me.  He flew in on silent wings.  They usually announce their presence with loud chattering.  There isn't enough light to photograph him.  I sure wish I had a lens that would work in low light;  "a fast lens."  But, I don't have an extra $5000 laying around the habitat.  If I did I would get my back fixed.

I'm really looking forward to paddling the Champlain Canoe.  I'll take it to Indian Boundary Lake next canoe trip.  For those of you who don't know;  I have two canoes.  One is a 16 foot Esquif Champlain model and the other is a 17 1/2 foot Esquif Mistral model.  The Champlain is a fast canoe but, doesn't have the initial and secondary stability that the Mistral displays.  I feel more at ease having my photography equipment out of the water proof box and ready to use while paddling the Mistral.

This black Mistral is just super stable and is wonderful for photography.  I can actually stand up in it and move to the opposite end of the canoe without fear of capsizing.

I've been here for an hour and there's not a sign of an otter.  I wonder if they notice the canoe parked against the shoreline.  I doubt they care.  It's probably just bad timing to catch them out.  Two wood ducks just did a fly by and landed about fifty yards up stream.  They are pretty far out for me to get good shots.  The problem is that the light is terrible today for the big 500mm lens.
  These ducks are absolutely gorgeous.  Their colored plumage emits vibrant colors.  They are simply beautiful.
They have no idea I'm here yet; they hesitate to allow the current to float them past me.  The lighting is going to produce very dark photo's.  I just know it.  I'm really not thinking correctly.  I'll explain later.  Right now I'm taking advantage of the scene before me.
I didn't think of it at the time but, all I would have had to do was to push the ISO higher.  The results would have been the same as using a higher speed film.  I didn't think to do that until the wood ducks were gone.  It's a very simple, fast maneuver with this camera.  I don't know where my mind was off to.  I could have done much better with these ducks.
The resultant photos are not all that shabby.  They are not satisfactory in my book but they document the moment for me.
Below is my office on the water.  I like to keep a journal and document some of the highlights of the day.  Sometimes I'll write the entire blog entry while along the river.  I have been recording dates that I see certain critters.  Today is the first day I've heard Spring Peepers this year.  Last year they were audible on March 12.  It's not that important;  just something I enjoy doing.
I better turn the boat around and start heading back.  I want to put the Gheenoe on the water to assure that all is ship shape.  It hasn't been operated since last Fall.  The holes in the tree shown below were drilled out by the pileated woodpecker.  They bore a rectangular hole.  The red headed woodpecker drills out a perfectly round hole.  Who can figure woodpeckers?
I turned the Mistral around and slowly paddled back toward the put-in.  I'm in no hurry at all.  I want to return home and hitch up the Gheenoe for a turn on Tellico Lake this afternoon.  I have cleaned her up and changed all the oils and she should be ready for a Summer workout.
Tellico Lake was beautiful today.  It seemed I had it all to myself.  This is why I love having week days off.  Everyone else is working.  Weekends are horrible on the big lakes.  There are just too many super large boats banging around on the water.  Douglas would go along with me.  He loves riding on the Gheenoe and I wouldn't think of leaving him home.
I just wanted to drive along the shoreline to assure the engine was performing properly.  It started with one turn of the key and didn't miss a beat.  What a great engine.  Honda makes some great marine engines.
We set out at a slow pace, carefully warming up the engine.  It was running perfectly.  I'm a happy camper.  We'll make a pass on the old French and Indian War fort, Fort Loudon, and skim across the lake toward the ruins.  The beach is sandy there and will provide a safe place to park the Gheenoe while Douglas gets some shore time in.
I wonder how accurately these reconstructed forts really are.  I mean, the original posts are located in the ground by archeologists but, who can say what the buildings really looked like.  I guess they are reconstructed in the fashion of buildings of the time.  I have always been fascinated by that era, the seventeen hundreds.  People were a breed apart from what we have evolved into now.
This must have been a formidable fort in it's time.  One must remember that it stood on the edge of the Little Tennessee River; not a lake.  It would have dominated travel on the river in it's day.
We drifted past Fort Loudon and headed for the sandy shoreline that lays in close proximity of the ruins.  The boat was pulled into the shallows where Shade and Douglas usually swim when we visit the ruins.
It was kind of neat approaching the ruins from the lake.  We walked up the road that ends in the lake to the old foundation.  I realized I had too many clothes on.  It was chilly on the water so I dawned long underwear and my flotation jacket.  But, for hiking, I was over dressed and getting really warm while hiking to the ruins..
 Douglas swam, did happy laps and had a great time.  I was overheating.  There was not one bird to be found on the grounds of the ruins.  I'll never understand how one day I can find flocks of robins or yellow rumped warblers and the next day absolutely nothing.
The above shot shows the beach where I usually take a break with the dogs and let them swim and play.  It is covered by water through the Summer months.  Tellico Lake has been drawn down a good eight feet I'd say.
Above is a shot of my beautiful boy Douglas.  It's getting a bit late and I have to get the Gheenoe washed and under wraps in the driveway.  We best motor back to the dock.  The mountains look grand in the sunshine.  All is well in Tennessee.

I had plans to do a motorcycle ride tomorrow but, I just received a call from work and they need me for tomorrow.  So, I'll put that little bit of fun on the back burner.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.  It's been a very nice day and a full one. .  Until next time please be kind to a dog.  Show them some empathy.