Friday, May 6, 2011

A SADNESS ON THE TENNESSEE RIVER

A goose floats silently alone, with none of her kind in sight.  An oddity.  Then I put the scene together and it nearly broke my heart.  I looked closer.  Before her floated an egg.  One of her eggs had washed into the water and she couldn't let it go.  Look closely and you will see the egg below.
She floated along behind it helpless to alter the course of events.  She remained silent.  Then all of a sudden she stopped.
She sat there quietly and watched the egg for a full five minutes. Then she turned her back to the egg and simply floated there in place, not looking again at her lost future.
It was amazing to watch and, heart wrenching at the same time.  She simply sat there and floated with her back to the egg.  The egg  drifted further and further from her.
And then the heart breaker.  I mean I never thought I would see an animal act like this.  She lifted her wing and pushed her head under it as if shedding silent tears.  You had to be there.  The action was a direct result of her loss.  I'm sure of it.
Her head came out from under her wing finally and she held her head very low;  nearly touching the water as if in sorrow.

There is no scientific data to prove that animals feel sorrow.  I believe they do  Some say what I'm witnessing is the animal's "confusion" to an event.  I don't buy it.  This goose had just lost her offspring.  It was an egg but to her it was her legacy.  She could do nothing about it.  She was helpless and she showed it.  Even an hour later;  she still floated exactly where I had previously seen her.  It was sad to watch and I wish I hadn't witnessed it.

My eyes opened wide and I turned my head toward the window in the door.  The sun was shining and the leaves were quiet on the only tree I could see from that window.  I quickly rolled over top of Happy, on to the floor and I was off.  I forgot how long it takes to get dressed with this back ache I have in the mornings.

The fishermen were out in large numbers but I had no problems launching the Gheenoe.  I made straight for the Bald Eagle's tree.  I anticipated seeing the eaglets moving about in the nest.
Instead the nest appeared empty.  No parent was to be found either.  It appeared I arrived too late.  The baby eagles had left.  I felt left down.  They couldn't wait one more day for me.  A last look and final farewell was stolen from me.  I waited and waited until I resigned myself to the fact they were gone.  They were the primary reason I came to this river.  I turned the Gheenoe down stream and slowly moved along.
Osprey
Osprey
Osprey
An Osprey passes overhead and presents a wonderful photo opportunity.  A gorgeous bird!








Osprey
 The big raptor circled the boat twice before finally flying off toward the river's edge and a nest.  Then she was gone.







I ran on down stream to the heron rookery.  Maybe the babies were born by now.  Something was wrong.  I only saw two heron nests.  there were a dozen here in these trees along the water.
Broken limbs back in the foliage told the tale.  High winds the night of the tornado last week either blew the nests out of the trees or they fell to the ground on broken tree limbs.  Mother Nature has charged a high tariff for her children to survive on this river in 2011. 
I am saddened further about this occurrence;  this terrible loss.  Adult herons stand on limbs high in the trees where once their nests existed.  They stand vigilant as if their nests and eggs were still before them.  This is further proof of the tenacity of a wild creature to protect its offspring.  They exhibit hope where there is none.

 I just wasn't wanting to be on the river today.  I pointed the boat back upstream and followed the right embankment close as safety would allow.  I wanted to take one more shot of the eagle nest for this year.

Turtle with two Spotted Sandpipers looking on


Spotted Sandpiper

The goose on the cliff is still there sitting on eggs.  I have seen no chicks as yet so I guess everything is alright.  It seems she's been incubating her eggs a long time.
She remains still and in place even as I idle past her.  As usual;  I acted like I didn't see her.

Now;  here's a happy looking pair or residences.
It was plain I was not wanted in the vicinity.  Dad put up a terrible squabble when I appeared. 
Below are tree swallows.  They are fast as jets and almost impossible to photograph on the wing.   I did my best.  You definitely will have to click on the photos if you want to see them.  They are a tiny bird to start with.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallows

Tree Swallow--Pure Straight Away Speed.
 As I idled past the eagle's tree I looked up one last time.  To my joy and surprise, there stood junior in the nest.
They waited for me.  I finally saw something today that put a smile on my face. Junior would allow me another chance to photograph him.  I'm sure sister was behind the tree in the nest.   My goodness;  how his feathers have developed! 
He is near adult size now and surely will depart from the nest this week.
At least now I knew the young eagles were safe.  The tornado activity last week was horrible and I feared they may have succumbed to the high winds.  I'm happy for them.
It was now 2PM.  I'm going to hitch up the canoe and take Douglas to Calderwood Lake for a canoe camp.  I feel a little better about things on the river but, I can't get that goose out of my mind.