Thursday, March 29, 2012


click to enlarge

The following link will explain details pertaining to this dangerous little mollusk:

Highlight, copy and paste below link into your browser

My friend and coworker, Paul, and I were working on habitat restoration on Melton Hill Reservoir which is located west of Knoxville.  This lake was one of the lakes that I used to work on for TWRA over 8 years ago. As we were unloading materials at the boat dock - I noticed something I have never seen on this lake.  Mollusks were present by the millions.  I have never seen anything like it.  I mentioned to Paul that I never saw these when I worked on Melton Hill 8 years ago. He indicated they were only recently introduced to the fresh water lakes about 5 years ago.  Then he told me their name.   They are zebra mussels.  Then I remembered reading about them.
We had noticed that Melton Hill's water level had been reduced more than normal and we guessed it was to allow the zebra mussels to be high and dry and left to die in the sun.  This action might kill millions of the little mollusks but, million upon millions of them still reside beneath the surface.  The photo above is of mollusks that have been left to bake in the sun on the shoreline.  Note how they are colonized or collected together in mass.  They accumulate like this in water intake plants on water gates and even pump impellers.  They get inside boat engines and create blockages of cooling water flow and can even plague moving parts.
Their origins are the Soviet Union, Poland and the Balkans.  Their first landing in this country was the great lakes, more specifically Lake St Clair in 1988, which connects Erie with Lake Huron.  The aforementioned link will explain the entire story.  Their voyage to Tennessee was enabled by hitching rides on boats by infiltrating boat bilges and even invading and growing within the cooling systems of boat motors. They also attach themselves to the bottom of boat hulls and easily transported from lake to lake.  Large boats as well as small fishing and pleasure boats have spread this dangerous species to the lakes of Tennessee.  It is important for boat owners to flush out their bilges and wash down their boat thoroughly when moving from lake to lake.  Not many folks take these precautions s.  The result is the further infestation of this mollusk across not only Tennessee but, to any lake anywhere that boats travel to and from.

The zebra mussel is a detritus feeder.  It actually "filters" detritus from the water in large quantities.  The mollusk is very efficient preforming this process.  It is so efficient that millions of mollusks in a lake can filter all the detritus from that lake with the result that natural species of fish and other lake residents can suffer to the point of extinction.  The situation is indeed serious.  I don't believe there is any scientific means to eradicate them at this point in time.  They propagate and spread at an alarming rate.
Zebra mussels attached to rocks above the waterline.  Many are still alive.  The entire lake shoreline is covered by these dangerous pests.
Note the mollusks attached to the underwater rocks.  The little snake is a bonus to the picture.
Paul and I were attempting to create fish habitat by sinking bamboo into the lake.  We were going to attach six stalks of bamboo together in close proximity to each other and affix the bundle to the bottom of the lake. This will create dense cover for spawning fish as well as provide them protection from predators.  I've already posted recent entries showing the use of discarded Christmas trees being used as fish habitat.  The bamboo idea is nothing more than just that - an idea.  If it works we have a tremendous supply of wild bamboo growing in quantity in local forests and lake sides.  We'll see.  The work continues tomorrow.
 Fresh cut bamboo from a woods close to a roadway.
The tops of the bamboo stalks.  These tops will provide super hiding places for smaller fish .
I'll see if I can get some shots tomorrow of us actually setting the bamboo on the lake bottom.  I know you'll all be holding onto the edges of your seats on this one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


click photos to enlarge

I put an entry on the blog the end of January depicting the efforts of TWRA in establishing fish habitat on the baron banks of Cherokee Lake.  We staked out thousands of discarded Christmas trees which would eventually be covered by water and would provide spawning grounds and areas for fish to hide and seek.  The lake is slowly filling with water and I visited the work site to see what was happening.  The water is coming up nicely and soon the trees will fulfill their intended purpose..


That's a lot of work - let me tell ya..

Monday, March 26, 2012


I can't seem to win with these eagles as far as good light goes.  Their nest requires shooting directly into the sun as I am not normally on the scene until near noon.  No luck.

Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle

Notice the missing primary feathers left wing

Canadian Goose

Black Lab perched precariously on the edge of disaster

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I have to apologize at the start here for the less than acceptable quality of the bird shots.  I inadvertently set the camera to full manual and did not compensate properly for the additionally required  fine settings.  I usually simply adjust for time or depth of field exposure and let the meter control the rest.  Sorry.  The enlargements may be a bit fuzzy.  The pictures of Shade, however, are perfect.

click photos to enlarge
Two of my favorite birds showed up in the woods beside my yard this afternoon.  Cardinals are always a showy bird in the spring and the little Downy Woodpecker is one of the most interesting little guys to watch there is.
A lot of folks confuse this little guy with the yellow-bellied sapsucker but, if you look at the red marking on his head - it is located to the rear.  The sapsucker has a red scull cap located more forward on the crown.  The little downy is about 5.5 to 6" tall whereas the yellow - bellied sapsucker is probably more in the 7" category. 
I watched him flit about on the tree trunk but, he always returned to near the spot above.  Occasionally he would lift a tiny piece of bark away from the tree and it would fall to the ground.

I notice these fellows hanging out with the chickadees and nuthatches that walk about on the tree trunks around here.  I used to think that birds of a feather flock together but, I may be mistaken on that old saying.

Photographing these birds reminds me that I have to get to Calderwood soon before the fuel prices get to $4.00 or I won't be able to afford the trip.  I really can't afford it now but, that's what I do and everything has its cost.

Actually, I was just killing a little time late this afternoon and thought I might as well pull the camera out.  The wind, as usual, is up and its chilled off a lot since yesterday so I wasn't motivated to take the motorcycle or the motor boat out.  I'm thinking of heading back to Chilhowee Lake tomorrow with the Gheenoe and Shade.  I won't risk taking the canoe and being disappointed again due to wind.
These little fellows dressed in their red tuxedo's are easy to spot and easy to follow with the naked eye.  They are like light bulbs among the dark places in the branches of the trees.

The most amazing thing happened yesterday concerning old Sigh, the over 16 year old hound that lives with us.  I'll not go into it here but I may post an entry later on tonight.  That old girl constantly amazes me.

These two birds created a nice memory for me of the end of this day.  I've got em captured for ever with the camera.  I love cameras.  They're non-intrusive.
Shade and I worked at the wildlife management area (WMA) at Buffalo Springs this morning repairing the steering on one of the agency boats.  After the job was complete, I took down to the creek for a much needed visit to her water world.  She loved it.

I've never seen a dog who loved to just sit or lay down in icy, cold water.  Shade loves this place as the water is cold, pure and sweet.  

Shade is a lucky girl.  She leads a life that other dogs can only dream about.  I take her with me every day and she has bonded to me intensely.  You can't imagine how close she is to me.  Outings like this keep her mind sharp and her interest at a high level.  That goes a long way in keeping her body healthy.  That reminds me - she's due for her annual physical.  I have to call Monday for an appointment.  Teeth cleaning is in there someplace.  Guess I'll put my physical on the back burner.  I sure love my girls - Shade, Happy and Chestnut.

We're off tomorrow and I'm sure we can get into something interesting.  I'm not one to sit around the house and waste time.  Thank you for looking in.  This entry was really just something for me to do, and I enjoy posting to my blog.  Thanks again.