Saturday, May 12, 2012

CORMORANTS, OSPREYS, VULTURES, HERONS AND A LITTLE LOST DUCK

click photos to enlarge




Above is a shot of a double crested cormorant.  He is a young one as the adults are solid black with an orange throat.  The double crested is the most common cormorant that is seen here in the eastern United States.  They hang out in swamps, on rivers, lakes and even on the coasts.  Their range is from the Bahamas to Newfoundland, Mexico and Manitoba.  This bird can be found on inland waters as well as large lakes and it nests and breeds in that environment.  Below is an example of an adult double crested cormorant.
Cormorants are very powerful birds both in flight and while swimming.  They dive for food and can stay submerged for up to three minutes.  Very cool bird!




















































These birds are great to watch when they take flight.  They don't launch themselves gracefully at all.  They seem to thrust their bodies into the air and flap their powerful wings rapidly while actually running across the top of the water.  Once airborne they tuck the big webbed feet under their body and turn on the power.

I had a great day at work today.  I had just the right number of anglers to interview, the correct temperatures and some good photography opportunities.

The osprey is one of my all time favorites in the raptor family.  They are simply impressive whether they are at rest or in flight.  They are elegant in the sky and have an impressive percentage of success when fishing.  Many are sitting on eggs as this is written.  I believe that is why the one in the picture above was so tolerant of my presence.  Her mate, however, showed no patience with me.  He took flight and dived on the boat several times.  A lot of the old timers call them fish hawks.  





If you look carefully you will see that the male is returning carrying a fish.  It resembles a largemouth bass by the looks of it.































 Note the fish in above shot











































I really enjoyed a lot of luck today with the camera.  Usually Douglas Lake is a dead world.  I surmise that summer tempts the critters back to the recently filled reservoir. Too bad its a temporary situation.
Just think about how boring life would be without the black vulture in it.  The world would not be able to revolve.  Just look at that handsome fellow above.


Black vultures are often confused with the turkey vulture.  The turkey vulture is a larger bird and has red on its head and neck.  The black vulture is much smaller and covered with black feathers to head.  A primary difference in the two species is that the turkey vulture is a scent chaser.  Its said that turkey vultures can scent putrid meat up to ten miles.  The black vulture simply flies up and down the shorelines and forested areas in hopes of actually seeing their meals.  Its a well known fact that black vultures will actually follow turkey vultures in search of something to glut over.

The great blue heron is a resident on practically every lake in every state.  These grumpy old men can be heard croaking at the slightest disturbances.
They are prehistoric and ungainly looking but, once airborne they are as graceful in flight as they come.


And once he gets his wings going - he's outa here!


I turned the boat out to big water from a cove.  Right in the middle of the lake I noticed what looked like the head of a turtle sticking out of the water.   It didn't look right.  I angled over toward it and I instantly felt a pang of sorrow.  It was a tiny duckling.  I believe it was a mallard duckling but am not sure.  He was all alone.  



I couldn't get close to him because he would duck under water and pop up two yards further away from me.  I thought and thought about what to do.  I decided to do nothing.  He is a child of nature and he is in this fix because nature has dictated it.  I couldn't catch him anyway.  It is sad to realize he won't make it through life.  Any size largemouth bass could snatch him if the fish sees his paddling on the surface.  Even if he got past the bass, the herons or gulls would surely spot him.  I sincerely felt sorrow at his situation.  
 I watched him get smaller and smaller as the distance between us increased.  It reminded me of the movie "The Perfect Storm" where the guy was totally alone down on the ocean in the enormous rolling waves.
Nature is cruel at all times.  She presents beautiful gifts to all in her realm but takes the gifts back later with extreme cruelty.
My time on the water for the day was nearly over and I headed back toward the boat ramp at Walters Bridge.


I noticed a pontoon boat being pulled by a jon boat.  The pontoon boat was sinking.  My boat reached the dock and I got the boat on my trailer and up the ramp to the park lot.  Then I walked back down to the water to help out.  The guy in the jon boat unhooked the pontoon boat and blasted off.  He was in a hurry I guess.  An old guy and his wife were left standing there.   I worked with them for two hours to get that boat up the ramp and secured to the trailer.  The engine was full of water because the right side pontoon was full of water and had the back of the boat under water.  What a mess!


  We got the boat on the trailer with much effort.  The thing slid off the trailer going up the boat ramp.  Only the front end stayed on the trailer.  I had some heavy rope and tied it to the frame on the trailer and to the boat so it could be dragged up to the parking lot.  I was able to get the boat onto the trailer using the floor jack I carry in the state truck.  Over two hours of struggle.  



These folks were just trying to enjoy time on the water utilizing the equipment they had.  They were very nice folks and I'm glad I was there for them.  I turned around to take off with my rig when I noticed a flat tire on the boat trailer.  Just my luck.  
Note the jack between the wheels.   Stuff happens!