Wednesday, May 16, 2012

GEESE, GEESE, GEESE AND MORE GEESE

click photos to enlarge
The tan colored bird on the lowest limb is a young cormorant, under three years of age.  Adults are perched above him.  
Today Shade and I were running the state boat in the upper most area of Douglas Lake which is the river section of the lake.  The river is not navigable in the winter months due to low water conditions.  I have been as far as the Nolichucky river and that occurred last week while in the Gheenoe.  Today, however, we drove on upstream past the Nolichucky to the Rankin Bridge and beyond to the point where another river flows into the French Broad River.  That river is known as the Pigeon River.  The French Broad became very shallow at the confluence of the Pigeon River and it was at that point we turned back down stream.  I intend to retrace the course in the Gheenoe on my next day off and go upstream even further.  This river area is beautiful and it is not habituated by humans.  I didn't see even one house.   Where ever there are not humans - there exists animals and today proved that out.  I saw 5 bald eagles flying high above or roosting in trees along the French Broad River.  They were very touchy and I could not get close enough for decent photography work.  No doubt the sound of the big two stroke engine put them on edge.  Most of the birds were raptors, wading birds, ducks and geese with an occasional sand piper thrown in for good measure. 
We passed under the Rankin Bridge and I noticed movement on the right shoreline.  A gathering of geese was slowly foraging along the water.  Two adults were escorting their young at waters edge chasing down insects.  The goslings were emulating the actions and moves of the parents.  They were in school.

They ignored the boat and I clicked away on the camera.  Eventually they became nervous and took to the water.  They still were not frightened but, became wary.  




The group had a parent in the front and another at the rear.  They appeared like little kids that were being watched by play ground monitors.  Eventually more adults fell in with the caravan. 



They eventually started to show concern over the presence of the boat and they swam faster.  I didn't want to stress them out so I kept my distance.
































I let the boat get closer and they became alarmed.  Their pace accelerated and eventually they  swam across the water in panic.  The babies swam and splashed directly away from me and the parents split up and swam and quacked trying to lead me, the danger, away from their brood.



They really churned up the water.  One parent went left and the other sort of fell back behind the chicks and prepared to lead me away from the young.



The last little fellow made his run to catch up with his brothers and sisters.

























I'm really happy I found this pretty water.  I can now find some peace over here in this part of the world.  The drive to water access is about 20 minutes from my house.  At least in the summer months the water will be pretty.  Its only a temporary situation though.  Winter will come and the lake will be lowered again and the river will follow.
 A tiny sandpiper flits about on the floating logs picking up insects, his little rear end bobbing up and down as he stands stationary inspecting his perch.









About a half mile further upstream another family of geese appeared.  These babies were just a bit smaller than the first batch.  There may be one or two weeks difference in ages of the chicks.






The chicks panicked in the photo above.  I kept the boat well away from them but, they still went into "afraid" mode.  I would pull the boat back in another minute.


























Mom leads the last two chicks away from danger and into the cover of the river foliage
We had just enough time left to make a slow run back down to put-in.  I timed it fairly close because we arrived at the Walters Bridge "put in" with one half hour left in my shift.  
































I believe I'll bring the Gheenoe up here day after tomorrow.  Its my day off and the weather is supposed to be great.  We'll see.  Thanks for looking in.