Sunday, May 20, 2012


click photos to enlarge
Douglas Reservoir is just about filled up.  Its two feet short of full and Tennessee Valley Authority says its doubtful the reservoir will receive anymore depth.  Full pool (measured at sea level) should be 995 feet give or take two feet.  At full draw-down the depth from sea level is 950 feet above sea level.  That is a 45 foot drop in water level over the winter months.  That is why the mountain tops, boulders and islands protrude through the surface and make boating dangerous.  The level now is 993.11 feet, just short of full pool at 995 feet.  The reservoir looked like a mud hole when I started to work on it in January.  I have posted many pictures of those shorelines and islands elsewhere on this blog and won't bother to re-post them here.  The lake has now taken on the look of a beautiful place to boat on.  Its not a primitive lake by any means but, it is pretty now.  The lakeside homes appear beautiful as one passes by on a boat.  This human habitation isn't my cup of tea but at least now the homes appear as pretty ornaments on the shoreline instead of human litter at the edge of a mud hole.  There are some fairly impressive houses on Douglas Reservoir and I photographed a couple to give you the flavor of the place.  Its all back to a mud hole next Fall, however.
There are rumors that say the economy is really bad.  I don't think the residence here on Douglas lake got the message or, maybe they just refuse to participate.

These homes look like a million dollars when the lake is up but, when the water level in the reservoir is low they appear out of place surrounded by 50 foot walls of mud.
Wakes from passing boats slowly erode the shoreline away.  I wonder how long it will take for the lake to eat the shoreline away up to the house above.

Both shorelines of the reservoir are covered with houses.  All the shoreline is owned by someone and is private property.  There's something not right about that.  Its a free country but it seems a shame that nothing is saved in the name of nature.  The French Broad and Nolichucky Rivers that flow into Douglas Reservoir are the last bastions of semi wilderness habitat left in the river system.  Nothing was designated "wild habitat."  That ain't right!

Every weekend fishermen appear at the lake to chase Mr. Largemouth Bass.  These events are called bass tournaments.  The boats show up by the hundreds.  At the firing of a shot they blast off from the boat ramp toward all points on the lake at full speed to arrive at and claim favorite spots to fish.  Douglas Lake isn't very large but its a fantastic fishery.  It draws anglers from as far as Texas to participate in tournaments.  Their presence is a huge boost to the local economy as they usually arrive three days prior a tournament event.  These guys spend a lot of money.    However, not one penny gets back to the fishery.  They play havoc on the resource though.  Its all big money and tournament regulation has been avoided by the state and local politicians who reap the harvest of money from the tournament participants at local businesses.  Mr. Largemouth Bass pays a heavy price on tournament day.  250 boats can bring in 5 bass per boat (1250) to a weigh-in point from as far as three miles away.  After weigh-in the bass are dumped back into the lake. They never get back to their original territories.  Most die.  Week after week after week it goes on and on.  I don't see how the resource can stand it but, it seems to be able to.  Tournaments are not my cup of tea either.  I believe tournaments need regulation and I understand why they are not.   Its all about the money.  The critter is a second more minor concern.
This week seems to be save the birds week for me.  Everywhere I turn there is a bird in distress.  I went down into my garage last week to get a tool from my tool box and there was a bird's nest in a half empty dog food box that was sitting on top of the tool box.  I was leaving my garage door half open to let old Sigh, the aged hound, come and go with ease.  A carolina wren flew in and built the nest.  A day later there was one egg in the nest.
Later that same day there appeared 4 eggs.
Then 4 eggs became 6.   Then the little bird began to spend all her time in the nest.  She and her mate chirp loudly every night when the sun goes down.  The garage has no acoustics and the chirping resounds through the house.  This chirping goes on every night and stops after fifteen minutes.  Yesterday I peaked over the edge of the nest and I saw a little yellow beak.  The babies are there.  The little carolina wren mother is amazing.   All the dogs pass by the tool box several times a day to get outside.  I have washed cloths in the laundry adjacent to the garage and she sits tight.  I pushed my motorcycle into the garage just yesterday and she remained on the nest even though I was only three feet from her.  I hope the kids grow fast as I need a couple tools housed under the toolbox lid that she built her nest on.  So, I leave the garage door open round the clock and even during storms.  This little bird has altered everyone's routine around here.
Then today birds were again the focus of my attention.  I launched the state boat at Walters Bridge on Douglas Lake early this morning.  I fired up the engine and did my look left, right and behind me routine and noticed a disturbance on the surface under the bridge.  It was a baby bird.  I turned the big boat in that direction to see if I could save the little rascal.
It was a baby pigeon.  He fell out of his nest that was located directly above.  He was doing the breast stroke toward shore but he would not make it.  I had to get him.  I have a fish dip net in the compartment on the boat and I raced to get it.  I would dip him out of the water like a fish.

It was a trick to maneuver the 22 foot boat near the huge concrete bridge support in such a way that would put me in a position where I could net the little guy but I got him in the net.
Now, what to do with him?  I couldn't begin to get close to his nest.  It was located far up under the bridge support clear on top.  I could get him on top of the concrete bridge pier which was directly under his nest by about twelve feet.   Hopefully his mother would hear him and feed him there.  I got him out of the net and held him cupped in both hands.  I then faced the bridge pier which had a flat surface on top.  I threw him up and toward the flat top of the pier.  He went over and on top.  Success!  It was all I could do for him.  When I returned to the boat ramp later in the day, 7 hours later, I saw two pigeons on that flat pier top..  It was junior and his mother.  She found him.  Hopefully things will work out for the little guy.  I did what I could.  Sometimes critters need a helping hand.  It didn't cost anything to help him and it didn't put me out in any way or affect my day.  But, it saved the life of a wild critter who needed it.  Thats about it for this entry.  Oh, check out this sunrise below: