Sunday, August 26, 2012

SO YOU WANT EAGLES, DO YOU?

click photos to enlarge
After the miserable photographic showing yesterday I figured I owed you something more.  I learned not to fool with the major camera settings when afield.  The job had me back in that area again today, and to my joy, I got to cover the Rankin area of the French Broad River as well.  That's where the shore birds congregate.   I cruised along the shoreline early this morning where I found the bald eagle yesterday.  He was there, as I knew he would be.  Only this time I was ready. The morning sun was softer than soft.  It was almost too yellow.  You will notice a yellowish tint to the photographs if you really concentrate on finding it.  I don't know how to overcome that issue.  I'll use the excuse that I am a novice and, well, old.  So, I gave him another go.  Incidently - the shot of the eagle on the lead-in picture on this blog entry is not the eagle I played photo ops with yesterday.  Yesterday's eagle immediately follows:





































He is beautiful, as they all are.  If you have never seen a bald eagle in the flesh - you just have to make an all out effort to do so.  These pictures can't begin to portray the magnificence of this freedom bird.


He is being docile because I shut the motor off well away from him.  I usually aim the boat at the eagles tree, get some speed up and shut the key off instantly.  The momentum will glide the boat forward silently.  The craft will slow but, that's exactly what is needed.  The eagle won't have a perception of fast approaching danger.














He did soon tire of my mischievousness activities and departed for points across the lake.  What a spectacular eagle!






I can find this guy any day of the week.  I've got his nest marked on the GPS.  I really don't need to do that but, I'm old and forgetful and might forget what tree he stays in.
The problem with wildlife photography in this area is that Tennessee Valley Authority  (TVA) is now lowering the water level in this mud hole and very soon it will be difficult to get to these areas.  The propeller hit rock four times in the river channel on the way to the Rankin end of the river.  The water in the river channel up there was 4 feet deep maximum and 2.5 feet deep anywhere except dead center in the river channel.

So, I see an aluminum fishing boat sitting against the shoreline, bow pointing toward land with two old guys in it.  The guy in the back was diligently inspecting the contents of his tackle box, picking plastic worms out and looking at them, turning them left and right and squeezing them as if to assure their freshness.   The guy in front was trying to unfasten his lure from a tree branch that he inadvertently cast into the woods over the bank.  He tugged and pulled whipping the fishing rod tip left and right, up and down.  They didn't hear me come in until I got very close.  I shut off the engine.  I stated politely, "I'd like to complete a lake survey with you guys if ya don't mind."  The guy standing in the front said, "Go ahead."

I asked them how long they had been fishing today and the one in the back replied, "Two hours."

I then asked, "What have you caught?"

The old gentleman who was hung up in the tree said, "Absolutely nothing.  You got any suggestions?"

I reached up to the right tip of my mustash, pinched the end between thumb and forefinger and rolled it while in deep thought.

I then stated authoritativly, "I know exactly what your problem is sir.  Saw it right off as I was pulling in.  You'd be more productive if you'd toss that fishing line in the water rather than fish up there in the woods.  You'll catch nothing but possums up there."

His entire body stopped fidgeting with his gear and his head fell forward and he stared at the bottom of his boat in silence.  I noticed small jerky movements in his shoulders.  He sat down, back still toward me.  His head slowly turned toward me and I saw the tears rolling down his cheeks.  He then burst out with a loud, boisterous gaffa and all three of us started laughing hysterically.  I got a resurgence of laughter when I told him that he'd soon learn that there ain't no fish up air in ta woods.  Its a fun job!  Someday my sarcasm is going to get me in trouble.

















A great egret leaps into the air from a tree,  his white feathers accentuated against the rich, blue morning sky.
I know I said in an earlier post that I wouldn't be seeking out the green heron anymore for photography purposes, and I'm not.  They, however keep showing up in front of the camera lens begging to be photographed.  I find it impossible to refuse them..



I'll try to keep the postings of green herons to a minimum.  There is one set of shots I took today of a green heron on a post that I find a favorite of mine.  The lighting was perfect and nature's stage was set up with the perfect accessory - a wooden post for the photography session.  The little heron cooperated spectacularly.  It's coming up later in this posting.
   
A bald eagle was diving toward the surface of the lake.  I was far away and even the 500 mm lens would be ineffectual.  I clicked off a few shots anyway knowing they would be too distant to be of any use.  I got a surprise when I downloaded the photos from the camera into the computer.  Turn your attention onto the shoreline behind the eagle.  I never saw "them" the whole time I was photographing the eagle.  Amazing!  Do you see the deer?








 He did catch a fish.  It must be a small one as I can not see it.  He is still very far away.  I'll fix that.  I'm going that way anyhow.  Remember - point the boat at the eagle's tree, give throttle and then shut everything off and glide forward.  I came right up on him as he was enjoying breakfast.








I can't make out what he's eating but he is tearing some poor critter apart.  It has to be a fish.




What a dynamic creature!  You don't know what I'm talking about until you see the real McCoy in living, breathing color.















Look at the size of his beak.  Can you imagine the strength and power in that piece of equipment?













None of these shots were taken rapid fire.  Each was given individual attention as pertains to camera settings and minor adjustments.  It's not every day when an eagle invites a person to sit down and watch him eat his breakfast and I employed every care while photographing this eagle.










Many of these are "similar" but, none are duplicates.  As I stated previously, its a rare occasion to be treated with this magnificent display.


He's got that "don't mess with me" face on.



The boat was getting too close.  He was aware of me the whole time but now he was displaying an uneasiness.






The boat was turning, putting the console between the eagle and my view of him.  I side stepped to the left not wanting to miss his take off into the sky.  When I raised the camera - he was gone.  I silently smiled and said, "that's ok."
I cranked the engine up and pushed the throttle when I saw him rocketing hyper speed out of a short cove as if a demon from hell was at his tail.

 No demon from hell would worry him, however, because he is a warrior from heaven.
Ok - I can tell you're all sitting on the edge of your chairs impatiently waiting for the pictures of the green heron I mentioned earlier.  Fear not because he is next up.
















Just look at this sweet little blueberry muffin.   He has his crest raised on top his head.  Look at the intelligence on that little face.




I'm not kidding about the intelligence remark.  Well, intelligence is a stretch.  This little bird is one of only four in the world that uses tools to seek sustenance.  It is scientifically proven that green herons will catch a grasshopper, mouth it into immobilization and then toss it out onto the water and wait for a fish to come up for the hopper.  The little heron then spears the fish.  Pretty neat.
And there you have it.  A crafty little scamp he is but, one of the most interesting birds in the wilds of East Tennessee.
I've got to end this post here as I have to line things up for the ride to the Holston River.  The purpose of the trip is to find and photograph otters and/or beavers.  They are most difficult to find so, no promises.  I'm taking the Gheenoe as I need to cover a lot of water.  I'd rather use the canoe though.  We'll see what happens.  I hope you enjoyed this blog entry.  Again, I apologize for the less than satisfactory photos on yesterdays entry.  Hope I made up for it.  Thank you all.

!GOING UP!