Friday, June 29, 2012

A HERON ODDITY

click photos to enlarge


That last entry was the most difficult entry ever.  This satellite internet is the worse method of working with a blog or web site imaginable.  I apologize for the strange print also.  I can't correct it.  That all brings me to this entry.


Great blue herons are wading birds.  They stand on stilt like legs at the edge of the water silently waiting for a passing meal.  Frogs, fish, large insects, turtles and baby birds make up its diet.  In short, they are opportunistic.  Their exceptionally long, skinny legs have feet with three long toes spread wide to support the bird in the soft mud.  Birds that swim have webbed feet.  That would be ducks and duck like birds.  I saw something today I have not seen before.  Just when I think I have them figured out they throw me a curve.  Look at the sequential photos below and you will see what I mean.


The great blue heron below has landed in fifteen feet of water.  He is simply floating.  There is no forward movement because he has two foot long legs with feet attached at the end of them with toes and not webbed feet.  The fact that he has willingly elected to do this is odd.  I believe it is a way to dissipate heat.  He's cooling off.  This is also a very young bird.
My boat is disturbing him.  I wanted to see if he would fly.  Actually, I wanted to see how he was able to leave the water to fly.  How could he propel himself into the air without webbed feet to push himself up and away?
Above:  He raises his wings but does not use them for lift yet, he is rising up.  He does not wish to get the wings wet.  The secret is below:
He is peddling with those long legs and big, web-less feet under water.  Flight is a slow process.  A duck would be airborne in an instant.  This big guy is getting into the air very slowly with maximum effort.
He was moving his legs and feet much like a person would while running.  The movement is left, right, left, right, and so on.  He arose straight up from his position on the water.  A duck like bird would have forward movement with speed to gain instant flight.
 He is now literally running on the surface of the water on feet without webs between the toes.  His wings now begin to flap for lift.
Look at him running on water below:
 Finally he's off.  Is that not an amazing act?




The great blue heron running across the water is really what I wanted to document on this entry. But, there were a couple other players who made an appearance on the lake today.
So, what have we here?
 He's a muskrat and a handsome fellow he is. 





A kingfisher blasted past the front of the boat and made a big, wide turn and was on the return.  I swung the camera up very quickly and snapped one shot.  It is below.  He was really moving fast and the shot was pure luck.
A small cove was ahead and I wanted to enter it in hopes of finding a fishing boat under the overhanging trees.  It is 102 degrees on the water and I only found one fishing boat so far today.  There were no boats but there was a little blue belted kingfisher who started playing cat and mouse with me.

The day was hotter than hot and it felt good to get into the air conditioned truck.  I only found two fishermen in six hours of running through my area with the boat.  It's just too hot!  This is a short entry so I'll just throw a couple more shots up and close it out.  Thank you for your attendance.
































SHADE'S DAY ON CALDERWOOD LAKE

I have messed up just about everything I've touched today.  I set the Canon DS990 on the beach mode to try to brighten up the shaded areas under the tree canopy and forgot to reset it.  Therefore most of the photos I took today are over exposed.  The color green is most affected.  I threw away many of the shots.  I apologize in advance.  I almost didn't even post any pictures here today.
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Great Scott!  Where did this sign come from?

There's something big afoot here.  The cars belong to construction people.  They're working down over the bank near the water.  I'm not even looking.
I knew it was just a matter of time until commercialism touched this beautiful, hidden mountain lake.  In an instant the ambiance of the place and the possibility of me being absorbed into the wilderness setting today left my mind.  It felt what a spirit might feel like when it leaves a person at the moment of death.  If it weren't for Shade I'd turn around and drive home.  The only question that came to mind when I saw the sign and cars was "aren't there enough pleasure lakes out there without encroaching on this gorgeous place?"  I can almost see the florescent  colored kayaks and canoes all over the lake now.   I guess this lake has been a refuge for me as well as Douglas and Shade for the past eight years and we've had our day of glory on its water.  Probably its in the homo sapiens genes to seek out wild places and commercialize them.  After all its no crime to make an honest dollar.  This lake remained primitive when the older American culture reined supreme.  They had values and respect for beautiful wild places.  Those folks were raised that way.  They could have commercialized the wild places but didn't.  That statement applies to those in government who used to have an honest pride in the spectacular wildernesses within the borders of their states. Today 's newer culture beats the drum to save the wilderness as long as the funding holds out.  No money for the wild places and they're commercialized.  May as well put them to good use.  Probably use the reason for commercialization  that its for the children.  Any politician who wants to further his agenda states its for the children.   And, why should the wilderness have to be saved in the first place if it is respected and admired by the current social generation?  Why is there a struggle to set this back and that back if those great natural gifts are appreciated to begin with?  The answer is because this current generation is split.  Those who build and monopolize and those who blend older generation values with the current lot share the same space.  Money is the common denominator.  Oh hell - enough of this.



It is hot!  The sun is bright and beats down unmercifully upon the water and us.  I'll have us in Slick Rock Creek's cove in fifteen minutes.  It will be cool there.
Shade was swimming while I prepped the boat for launch so she should stay cool in the breeze on the trip to Slick Rock Creek.  It looks like we own the lake as there is no one on the shoreline or the water.  I won't allow my feelings about what I've seen ruin the day for Shade.  Its her day.  We'll walk the little trail that parallels Slick Rock Creek and just enjoy each other and the day.  The overall ambiance of Calderwood Lake is tainted, however.  The gremlins are moving in it seems.  Just like the devils in the White House - the social gremlins just can't seem to enjoy something for what it is and leave it alone.

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This lake is a gem alright.  The shorelines are pristine and clean of human debris.  No plastic, floating tires, beach balls, life jackets or beer cans are anywhere to be found.  I have not seen one scrap of floating garbage anywhere today.  The water is cold too.  Everything about Calderwood Lake screams clean wilderness.  What a contrast to the warm pleasure lakes far below in the valley with their garbage littered shorelines, ski boats and jet skis and water that runs over 90 degrees in temperature!  If people are encouraged to come to this lake, I'd like to see a "no motor" law prevail on watercraft.  Maybe the wild critters could live with that.  They will not tolerate loud boat engines.  The sad thing is that human presence in wilderness places equals litter.  Period!

Shade is about 8 years old now and is getting an elegant look to her.  She is a reliable friend on the boat as well as on land.  Her eyes are constantly on me watching or waiting for some hint of action.


She, like Douglas, stands on the bow in the wind constantly testing the smells that waft in from all directions.  The difference between the two is that Douglas cemented himself to the fore deck of the boat.  Shade will come back after awhile and stay with me.  They are both great friends.  "Yes Douglas - you are with us today."



The water was gorgeous as it reflected the surrounding mountains.  






I carefully pulled into the cove at Slick Rock.  The water was a bit more shallow than normal.  I noticed that the flow from the creek itself was less than normally found.

I used a sea anchor to secure the boat without actually touching the boulder strewn shoreline.
I brought the big camera even though I knew that all the critters would be in dens or deep in the forest out of the sun.  It was hot out in the open.  I reached into the water and it was very cold.  Shade instantly went for a swim and laid down close to shore in the cold water.  Her alertness heightened since we landed and I could see she was going to enjoy this little outing immensely.
I left the big Canon camera on board and we started off on the little trail that parallels the creek.





It is right at this point where I set the camera to "beach" mode which is designed to brighten a photo and increase color saturation.  I intended to switch it back to manual but forgot.  Its an old age thing.

This is a sweet little trail.  It is a part of the trail once called a old fisherman's trail that came into this area from the Cheoah Dam area.  It is now called Slick Rock Trail.  It is tricky in places though.

It was time for a break.  I already drank a quart of water and was on the second quart.  Shade had all the cold water she needed.  I probably should have brought my water purifier with me. It would have supplied me with endless quantities of cold, fresh water.  Next time...



Ah, there's a good spot - above.

She is loyal to me and is my best friend - and she knows it.
I really miss seeing that golden form playing in the stream.  This was Douglas's favorite place in the world.  Shade has not taken his place.  She is seperate from Douglas and has devoted herself to me.  She deserves my total focus now.  Memories, however, are vivid.
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What a friend!












The walk back is going great!  We stopped often - too often.  Shade was having such a good time I didn't want it to end for her.  The temperatures were rising though and we had to get going.  I was a fool to think the breeze blowing through the open windows of the moving truck would be sufficient to keep Shade cool on the ride back.  I had a two gallon jug of water on ice in the truck for Shade, so, at least she was set for water.  The ride back was on my mind as we made our way back to the Gheenoe.





I apologize for the little bit of complaining at the start of this entry.  I sometimes react too quickly to things that can be detrimental to wild places and things.  However, there is one other little issue that has bothered me over the years.  There is a river west and east of here called the Ocoee River.  It runs through a beautiful gorge that was cut through the mountain by that same river.  It is a white water river - sometimes.  The Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, has installed a huge pipe at a point on the river where the water proceeds at a sharp angle.  The pipe continues on across the face of the mountain at that point and ends at a TVA hydroelectric power plant at the end of it.  The outflow from the operation is then dumped back into the river.  A white water rafting company, at some point in time, got into bed with TVA to arrange for an increased water flow in the river bed by paying TVA for that privilege.  Imagine - a private rafting company is paying a fee to a huge power company to allow the water that normally flows naturally in the gorge to flow with increased volume so the white water company can run its business.  Water flows at white water volumes during the day and the spigot is turned off at night.  As a matter of fact in 1986 the white water portion of the Olympics was held in the Ocoee River Gorge.  The point is - where does the public come into the picture?  The Ocoee belongs to the citizens of Tennessee, I think.  Or, does it?  This is another example of the power of the dollar and the use of wild places to reap dollars for unscrupulous entrepreneurs.  Why don't unskilled people go out and learn a trade instead of collecting dollars at a counter from citifites who want to have a fast thrill by thrusting themselves down a dangerous, wild, white water river?  
I use the word wild loosely.  I should say controlled.  Is habitat a concern?  Is the lack of habitat a concern?  Does anyone give a darned about the wild things that rely on the consistency of a river?  The answer to all those questions is a big no.  Its all about the dollar and the wilderness pays the price, as always.
Some things operate in the wild places with total innocence.  Above is one of em.
Above:  Now, that's clear, clean water!







We're out of here.  Its really starting to heat up even on this mountain.  The water level in the lake has decreased.  There is just enough water to be able to use the engine.
 The engine had to be raised so the prop would clear rocks.
OK - one last swim before we leave the cove.  Hey - its her day.


I had ten movie clips showing Calderwood Lake but, this useless satellite internet is hopeless.  I can't upload them all.  The movies that did load may not have continuity. Sorry for that.


We ran down the lake as fast as we could.  That black hair on Shade was hot to the touch.



The Gheenoe was loaded and we were off.
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The sun blasted through the truck window.  Any air movement through the open side windows was hot.  Shade laid on the seat beside me uncomplaining.  I stopped the truck and saturated my shirt with the ice water I had and laid it over her.  Perfect!  She was a cool pup now.  I kept the ice water in the front with us and kept the shirt saturated the whole way home.
 The rest of the ride home will not be discussed here.  Its a long ride to and from Calderwood Lake from where I live..  I don't want to get started talking about that ride.