Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Shade and I were cruising up the left shoreline of the French Broad River early in the morning.  The sky was blue with white clouds and the sun was brighter than normal for this time of day.  It would be a hot morning.
Her black hair was already absorbing the sun's heat.  We had been on the water two hours and I pulled over along the mud shoreline to let her out for a swim.  Funny girl - she didn't swim.
She just stood in the 86 degree water.  That water wouldn't even begin to cool her down.  She just stands in it.  I probably should have left her home.  This is an odd mud hole of a lake.
We saddled up and moved on.
 A farm silo stands starkly alone jutting out of the center of the lake - a lingering reminder of a  farm seized from a family through eminent domain.
We moved over close to the stone cliffs that run along the water for a quarter of a mile.  There are shallow coves along that area where fishing boats linger for short periods of time.  We were at idle speed when a shadow passed over the water between the boat and the rock cliffs.  It was a bald eagle.
He flew to a tall tree to land but thought better of it and turned to fly out over the lake.  He then turned and came back to the tree.  Well, well!  I wondered what brought him back.  When he circled the boat the first time and went to the tree - he quickly dropped a fish on the limb and flew on.  Now, he is completing his circle and flying back to that limb.  Amazing!  I've never heard of such a thing.  Maybe the boat and clanking engine confused him when he first approached the tree limb.  The light is very bright.  Its just the way it goes.  Overexposure will be an issue this morning.

He tore strips of flesh from the fish and tossed them back and down his throat.  This bird is probably about 3 years of age and it looks like he may be beginning to molt.  Look at his feathers in the first picture above where his wings are extended out to the sides.  His primary feathers appear to be a bit ragged.   Eagles molt once or twice per season, usually once in the Fall.  They don't molt all at once as they need their feathers to hunt and survive.  Shore birds usually replace all their feathers in one molting and they molt up to 4 times per year.  The eagle's molting usually begins with the replacement of the birds primary feathers and some covert feathers.  As the new feathers replace the old - other feathers begin to be replaced and he is never, ever without the ability to fly.  In this way his juvenile feathers will eventually be discarded and replaced with his adult feathers bearing the color of an adult eagle.
The really neat thing is that I found this young eagle's nest.  It was difficult to see but I found it.  This bird has been in this particular area almost daily and I started to pay particular attention to the hillsides.  Every day I drove past this area I would scan a different section of hill side further and further up the mountain each day until I finally caught sight of the big nest.  I can only believe it is his nest as the parents would not allow him back into their territory after the young eagle had fledged so his nest is not the parents nest.

The photo immediately above has been reduced in quality to allow uploading.  Yes - I'm becoming frustrated with this Hugh's.Net satellite system.  Useless!
The boat drifted close to the rock cliff and would soon make contact.  The eagle became uneasy as we drifted toward his tree and he took his fish and flew off.  Beautiful!

A killdeer scampers along the bank close to the water searching out small sand beetles. 
I've got no clue what the ducks, swans, Easter throw a ways, are (below).
A green heron perches on a limb and clucked softly.  Odd thing to be clucking softly for this guy.

I was pulling out of the parking lot at the boat ramp and saw a very unusual boat.
It was big and had a 440 horsepower engine on it.  This is an air boat.  They're used in Florida a lot in the swamps and backwaters.
  I became very depressed as I talked to this guy.  The engine on this machine is a 12 cylinder 440 horsepower engine.  It has header exhausts installed and is louder than you can imagine.  The occupants must wear ear protection in order to stand the engine noise.  Top speed is 80 miles per hour.  I asked him where he intended to run the contraption.  He said he was going upstream past the Pigeon River.  That's exactly where the great egrets and cormorants are located.  He will be blasting past the bald eagles and the green herons not to mention the swans that cling to the left shoreline above the Rankin Bridge.  He'll be blasting under the ospreys at Rankin.  All these animals are sensitive to human intrusion.  This guy will be driving, what must appear to them, as an intercontinental ballistic missile through their narrow river habitat.  This is a senseless, inconsiderate action but, its perfectly legal.  These people are perfect examples of the human element in the wilderness.  This is another reason I hate this damn mud hole lake.  People.  People everywhere who care only about their own property lines and probably sit in their living rooms with binoculars just waiting for a boat to beach on their precious soil so they can call the law.  They care little for the wild things that "try" to coexist.  All the creatures of the river can do is get out of the way.  Their futures are hanging on a thin thread.

This satellite system I'm using is next to useless for just about anything internet wise.  There should be investigations conducted into the satellite internet industry.  DSL is faster than satellite.  I can't even enlarge my own pictures on the site.  Uploading them is excruciatingly slow.  I've called Hugh's.Net and they say the equipment and satellite checks are good.  Its interesting to note that "all" their technical staff reside in India.  I asked Raja, my expert technical rep, whether he is using Hughs satellite over in India working for Hughs.Net.  He said no.  Hughs uses cable.  Interesting they won't use their own product.   I recommended he try satellite internet and see how he likes it.  I bring this up because I may have to stop or reduce the postings on the blog.   It takes literally hours to do a posting now that used to take one hour with cable.  I could and may go back to Verizon 4G.  It is the best internet connection I've ever see.  One must be careful not to go over the allotted usage.  The penalty is $10 for every gigabytes over 8 gigabytes.   We'll see what happens.