Tuesday, July 31, 2012

CANOE PADDLING AND OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE BIRDS AT RANKIN

click photos to enlarge
I took these shots of the deer out the truck window on the way to Rankin with the canoe.  There were three fawns, two of which made it into the tall grass before I could get the camera unwound.
Mom waited patiently until the kids made it into cover.  Look closely at the deer's body and you'll see thousands of blow flies on or hovering about her.  Certain species of these flies actually lay eggs in the host mammal to later evolve into fly larva.  Then they bore a hole through the skin and hatch into a winged insect then fly away.  Deer are especially susceptible to these pests of the forest.

I had finished the shift on the state boat in the morning and came up here with the canoe for a leisurely paddle through the flood plain.  I knew it would be hot but it was really hot when I got there.  No matter as I intended to paddle through the flooded forest in the shade.

I went under the old railroad bridge and suddenly it hit me.  Where where the birds?  The usual white great egrets were missing.  Gone were the cormorants.  There were a few cormorants but, the hoards were missing.  What is this?

I headed into the flooded forest out of the sun to see if the birds may have sought shelter in there from the heat of day.
 



























Still no birds.  Oops,  a bird. A solitary cormorant blasts off from a low tree limb.





Still no birds.  I ran the canoe up onto some water grass and just sat there and watched.  A eastern tiger swallowtail (black form) was flitting about and I tried the 500 mm lens out on him.


I think the Sigma 150 - 500mm lens does a nice job for a commercial lens.  I'm pleased.  Wish I had an extra $3000 for a professional lens.  Let me ref-raise that - for a "used" professional lens.  Whew!
I noticed an unusually large number of black crown herons and green herons under the canopy of trees.  For solitary birds they sure are in large numbers under here.  I couldn't get a shot at any of them due to the lack of light.   A muskrat with a small leafy limb in his mouth swam toward the canoe.  He was so close I couldn't focus on him.  No luck.  He went under the boat and emerged on the other side for a minute before diving under a stump.  I still couldn't focus on him.  Even at the 150mm focal length, the lens wouldn't bring him to clarity.  I could have reached down and picked him up by the nape of the neck.  I didn't have the other camera out of the water proof pelican box.  I have to start using the canoe stabilizers on this boat so the equipment is more accessible at all times.  I am always afraid of upsetting and dousing the cameras.


The osprey above charged out of the canopy through the hole I just paddled through and scared me half to death.  I threw the camera to my face and pushed the shutter then, rolled the shutter speed wheel and hit it again without pulling the camera from my face.  The above shot is the result.  Pure luck on capturing the shot.  He flew on up the shoreline of the river's edge.  I almost upset the canoe over this one.  Gotta remember the stabilizers next time.


That's about it for this time.  I was only on the water a couple hours but, they were nice hours.  I'll get to the bottom of this missing bird thing and report back.  I just don't understand where they all went.  Thanks for looking in.