Saturday, June 23, 2012

BIRD ATTACK

click photos to enlarge
He launched himself out of the nest and straight down toward me on the boat.
The 91 located under the 21.2 is surface temperature of the water in Douglas Lake.  That's 91 degrees.  I've never seen lake water that hot before.  The problem is that the water is stained (a bit muddy), there are blooms in it (microscopic plant life) and the water has very little movement to it.  The muddy water is dark in color and the sun heats it up faster than it does with clear water.  Blooms are plant-life that run off farm fields and eroded soil.  The lake needs rain and a lot of it to cool it down.  The Nolichucky and Pigeon Rivers would swell and dump their cold waters into the reservoir with desirable affects.  I noticed several fish swirling about on the surface of the water in their death throws. 
I guess I could drive the boat to Antarctica and tow an ice burg back to this lake.  No - that won't work.  It would be the size of an ice cube by the time I got it down here.  The fact is that it hasn't rained here for five weeks.  Someone said it would be a long, hot summer.  I'm beginning to think they are right.


I was running the boat on the French Broad River today searching for fishermen to interview.  There were few.  I decided to see how far up the river I could get until the shallow water would stop progress.  I got to an island in the middle of the river located just below the Pigeon River's confluence with the French Broad.
This island would be a great place to canoe to in order to camp out.  The Gheenoe is another possibility.  I floated around the point of it to check it out.  The water depth here was only 3 feet. It would be only a foot closer to the island.

Shade and I will definitely try this spot.  Maybe Kevin and Shaun would be interested in canoeing up here..
I floated around the front of the island and drove on past it heading upstream.  I didn't get far.  The water was rolling over a stone that was spread across the river.  This was as far as I could get.
The water is only a foot deep here.  I can see the bottom (above).
This big 22 foot boat will really float shallow.  Its hard to believe its abilities.  Ahead was the stone baracade under the surface that the water was churning over.

You can see the water breaking over the rocks in the two shots above.
I turned the boat around and let the current carry it back downstream with the engine off until I got back into safe water.


This part of the river is well within my responsibility today and I'm glad I pushed the envelope by coming to the outer limits of the area.  I noticed an osprey nest on the way up with babies in it.  I swung over to it.

Above:  One of the babies was jumping up and down flapping his wings in preparation of leaving the nest.  He would probably be gone and on his own by tomorrow noon.  It was fun watching him.  I drove around to the other side of the nest for a better shot.  The parents were there.  They were excited at my presence and were putting up a lot of screeching and moved side to side in the nest.  They put the evil eye on me all the while.  All of a sudden one of the parents dove off the nest and launched straight down the tree and curved upward at the same level as the deck of my boat.  He was attacking the boat.  Amazing!  I got the picture of his launch off the nest but couldn't follow him as he approached me on the boat.  He was pissed off!
He came over the bow of the boat front to back in line with the windshield.  I thought he would surely hit it.  Half way to the windshield he turned to a vertical attitude and just missed the roof on top the tower of the boat.  This great bird circled the boat once and landed on an empty nest located in a tree about 40 feet from the primary nest.  Whew!  He tried to drive me off.
Click on the picture above and you will see a little bird in the shot located directly behind the osprey.  The little bird was heckling the big osprey all the way to the osprey's nest.  His appearance in the picture is purely accidental.





This osprey went aloft again and joined two other birds in the first nest where the young osprey was testing his wings.  They stared intently throwing daggers at me with their eyes and put up a screeching fuss that would scare a ghost away.

Look at the face on the center bird.  He is the attack bird.  Great Scott - he hates me!



One of the other birds is a fledgling and the one I saw testing his wings on the edge of the nest. The parents pushed him down out of sight in the nest.
Look closely between the two standing birds and at the top edge of the nest in the front and you'll see the baby's eyes just peering over the top.  He doesn't want to miss the action.  Cute.


I fired up the engine and moved away before another attack was prompted.  I've never seen an osprey or any other raptor attack like that.  
The rest of the day was routine.  There wasn't very many guys out on the lake fishing.  I idled back to the ramp and left.  I wanted to document the ospreys on this blog for posterity.  It was odd of them to become so aroused that they would take action.


The entry following this one is about motorcycles.  I know its an odd entry but, the circumstance that prompted it irritated me.  See you soon.  Thanks for looking in.  I appreciate it.