Sunday, December 4, 2011

GULLS AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS ON THE "ROCK QUARRY"

click photos to enlarge
I was scheduled afternoon shift on the lake today so I got to sleep in this morning.  The dogs allowed me to sleep until 6:30AM. 
I headed up the lake to a creek named German Creek.  It extends North from the Lake all the way to Route 11W, which is for about three miles.  I was hoping to run into Crappie (pronounced Cropy) fishermen who had actually caught some Crappie.  That particular species of fish is difficult to catch when the water temperature is warm.  However, the temperatures have dropped into the fifties now and the Crappie are making themselves available to the fishing rod.  As I rounded an island I saw many hundreds of Ring Billed Gulls floating in the bay.
I have not seen them congregate together like this in these waters.  All of a sudden they took flight, circled an area of water and dove right in.  They emerged with minnows in their mouths.
Gulls are acrobats in flight, dodging and turning on the wing to prevent collision with their breathern.

They wasted not a second, constantly attacking the water to grab hapless minnows.



Then I noticed something.  Striped Bass were breaking the surface while chasing Shad.  When the gulls saw this, they took flight, circled and dove on that area.  I thought I'd try something.

I waited until they settled back onto the water again and were quiet.
I started the boat and idled past them at about ten miles per hour.  After I passed; they took flight and circled behind the boat.  I figured out how they operated.
As the Striped Bass charged through the schools of Shad;  it disturbed or frightened the schools of smaller minnows causing them to flee toward the surface.  The gulls knew the minnows would be bunched up in tight groups near the surface after the big bass were through.  All they had to do was go get dinner.  So, as my boat passed, the propeller disturbed and scared the minnows and they fled the same way as when the Striped Bass attacked.  The gulls instantly took flight and followed the boat diving into the water the whole time.  This action almost indicates thought process.  Of course it isn't that at all.  But, it's a pretty smart thing to do.
Gulls are graceful in flight and have the ability to turn on the speed when necessary.  They can almost stop immediately in flight if they want, hover over suspected minnow filled water and plunge down for dinner.
A group flew directly over the bow and Falcor's eyes were glued to them.  He returned a growl in answer to their loud shrieks and calls.
I keep threatening to bring my big camera to work but haven't done so.  I could have collected some fabulous photographs today.  I'm calling these gulls Ring Billed Gulls but, the black ring around the bill is not prevalent.   Furthermore, there is a black splotch behind the eye.  I never noticed this on Ring Bills.  If anyone can correct the identification;  please leave the note in the comment section at the end of this blog. 
I followed the creek driving very close to the shoreline.  There weren't any fishing boats in this particular area.  I noticed a deer step out of the forest far up the bank at the edge of the woods.  Falcor was looking out over the opposite side of the boat.  His muzzle raised high in the air and he growled and ran across the boat to my side and stared up at the spot where I saw the deer.  The animal disappeared into the thick brush but, Falcor could smell it.  I know he never saw it.  The whole thing about Falcor was amazing because that deer was very far away.  Very far!.  This is a testament to the incredible ability to smell that these dogs posess.   Look below and see if you can see the deer:
  Falcor is only eight months old and  he still was able to identify that foreign smell and know it was very different than anything he was used to.  Falcor's going to be alright.
 I noticed a cut in the shoreline a couple months ago that was even with the surface of the water and appeared to slice inland really far.  There were too many boulders to beach the boat and explore it at that time.  Today I was amazed at what I saw.  The shot below is taken from the lake end of the passageway in toward the mountain.
That cut I noticed is, in reality, a passage way that connects the lake with a sort of inland sea.  It's an underwater channel that is now out of water due to the lowering of the water in the dam.  We walked down this long passageway.
An enormous flat, wet area came into view.  This entire space is normally under water when the dam is at full pool (full of water.)  This area obviously has been dry for quite sometime as there are truck tracks in the soft soil.  Judging by the depth of the passageway;  I'd guess this land would be covered by about ten feet of water when the dam is full.  Amazing!
I can only imagine how stressed or, altered the ecological factors are on this huge area.
We better get back through the passage way.
We are walking back toward the lake and it can be seen at the end in the above shot.
The lake end of the passageway



That was a really neat place to walk.  Now, after March; this passageway will be full of water and invisible.
As much as I dislike all the mud and rocky shorelines of this lake;  every now and again a really interesting shoreline will present itself.  The shoreline I am standing on is such a shoreline.  I find it appealing.  Oh, alright;  its beautiful!
Below is another pretty section:
I wouldn't mind paddling a canoe along this real estate but, to beach a canoe on this rocky ground would destroy it.  Can't do it.  The state boat has a great piece of protection on it's bottom called a keel guard.  This thick, wide piece of plastic protects the fiberglass from damage.  I find it only necessary to gently touch the bow of the boat to the shale beach to assure it will not float away.  It's weight will hold it.  A canoe would have to be lifted out of the water, but then where would one set it down?  Rocks and gel coat do not mix.

It was time to head out across the bay toward the truck.  Today was another great one.  Lots of fishermen were on the water and I talked to many of them.  The sun is going down and we had about four miles to travel to the boat ramp.
Falcor has been doing an exceptional job of being a well behaved and attentive little dog.  He is only about 8 months old and has the demeanor of a dog much older.  He does get playful at times.  He only has one fault.  Well;  see the movie below.  It drives me totally nuts!