Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I have been struggling with this computer for the past three days.  I lost the ability to get on MSN which is where my email is located and also am having problems with this satellite internet connection.  MSN says they have no problems and Hugh's.net says they're systems are working and it's MSN's problem.  I'm in the middle.  If you are forced to use satellite internet - toss the computer away.  It's the same as not having internet connection at all.  Total junk!

Ok - I'll get on with this entry.

There's nothing like a pretty little kingfisher to uplift the spirit.

I was in the Gheenoe and the engine is ultra quiet.  The critters tolerate that boat because of the quietness and the color - green.  Kingfishers don't normally like their pictures taken.

These guys are super fast.  I had to be quick to catch his launch. 

 I was headed to the French Broad River and the Rankin Bottoms area of the river to photograph whatever made itself available.  I had to cover a long stretch of water so the Gheenoe was brought into service.  The water has been shallow in that area but additional water from heavy rains have raised the levels about a foot.  I saw ducks by the hundreds here only three or four days ago.  Today there are only a hand full.  This is migration season.  I'm not certain when and where all the species depart, come or where they go.  Birds are complicated critters.  I'll eventually have them all figured out. I decided to beach the boat and walk through the flood plains which is now dry land and plush green grasses and bushes.  
The island is very long and wide.  This entire area was covered with water only three months ago.  I paddled a canoe through the trees and the Gheenoe motored down the shallow channels of water that wandered between the bushes on the flood plain.
 All the green grass is covered with about three feet of water all summer long.  I have floated the Gheenoe directly over that brown, wet flat strip of bare land many times.  It leads deep into this habitat.
 I turned around and marked the spot where the Gheenoe was parked in my mind.
This entire area is about as good as wildlife habitat can get.  There's plenty of water for all the critters and more than ample cover.  The area is expansive also.
 I had the binoculars as well as the long lens with me.  The binoculars were definitely a "must have."
Below is that strip of bare ground that I used to float over to gain access to the deepest areas of this island.

I walked slow and constantly glassed the distant territory.  I saw a movement down on the dry slough.  I thought I might get a shot at a deer.  Not so.  See below:

It was a coyote, I think.  He was big - very big.  Totally alone, he jogged along the edge of the bare brown pathway that once held water.

I found myself in an awkward position standing out in the open.  He didn't see me.  I moved the camera very slowly to my face and clicked away.  If you look closely you can see the muscles along his back and rump.  That's a big coyote for sure.  He almost looks like a wolf but, that's ridiculous.

He was cautious, however.  He stopped frequently and looked in all directions, accept where I was.

He still doesn't look "full coyote" to me.  The face and the tail are not coyote.  But, he is a coyote and a strong one.

 Wow - How great was that!  It's really fantastic to be out here and being able to share this marvelous place with the wild residence here.  I turned to the left and walked toward a grove of trees.  I didn't want the coyote to become alarmed at my presence.  I didn't go fifty feet when I saw three forms moving through the grass.  They would enter the woods quickly.  More coyotes.

What's this?  They're laying down under the trees in the shade.  I would get no perfect camera set up with these guys.  I'm standing out in the open again with a bush behind me.  I waited until their heads were down before moving.

They were beautiful and like the lone wolf before them, had no idea I was there.

How often can a person photograph coyotes at rest?  They got up shortly after these pictures and moved directly into the woods where I couldn't get a picture for the clutter around them.  I am thankful for the pictures they allowed me to have.
I turned around to walk across the big wide open area behind me.  I wanted to walk to the shallow water that lay directly ahead.  As usual, I glassed the entire area in front of me.  Yep - here came a deer directly toward me.

She was really moving fast and she would pass very close to me if she kept on that heading.

She was sleek and beautiful and she was angling directly toward me.  As usual - I'm standing out in the open directly in her path.

She gradually slowed down when she saw me.  I didn't even breath or move the camera.  Fortunately the camera was at my face.  She was so cute I almost laughed out loud.

She started to stop on the ground with her front feet.  I was gritting my teeth so as not to laugh.  How funny!  Her eyes were staring a hole through me.

The camera with the long lens was getting heavy and my arms were aching.  I would have to put in down soon.  I really wished she would just move on.  I didn't want to frighten her really but, I may have to.  At least then she would know what a human looks like and be more careful about running up on them.

In a very low, calm voice I said, "you're a pretty girl."  That did it.  She moved into action.

I did laugh out loud.  I couldn't help it.  How sweet was she!  She ran way down the meadow and stopped, turned and looked back at me still standing in the open.  "No I'm not chasing you darlin."

I entered the woods and out of the tall grass jumped a very small fawn that ran like the wind.  The little thing shook me up.  What is this place?  It's like a barn yard here.  I see now why the doe was hurrying along toward this place.  She had hidden her fawn here and was quickly returning to it.  I believe my presence here may have been a blessing for these two.  The coyotes now know of my presence and will keep far away.  They were on a heading that would have put them right on top of the hiding fawn.  That would have ended in disaster.
I headed toward the boat.  I wanted to move a bit further up stream to look over a wide expanse of land that lies well below the old railroad bridge.

Not 50 feet from the boat - a fox jumped from behind bushes, stopped for two seconds and evaporated before I could even get my hand on the camera.  This is nuts!  I can't believe all the animals I'm running into.  Its the habitat.  Its the perfect, lush, wooded habitat that is offering all of them protection and abundant food and cover.  This is a precious place.  It is a place that warrants protection from any element that would harm it.

It felt good to sit on the seat of the boat.  My left leg was going numb and bothering me quite a bit today.  Its the residual aches and pains from the old sciatica attack a couple years ago.  That malady has taken a toll on me.  It was good to see the egrets and blue winged teal on the river.
Oh boy!  A bald eagle.  Crows are heckling him.  He was hard to photograph as he tucked himself back into the tree to avoid the crows.

These pictures aren't the best and I almost didn't post them.  All the incorrect elements were present for less than desirable pictures.  The situation, however, was unique and I went ahead and put them here.

He couldn't take it any longer and jumped out into the sky.

What a day!  What a day!  I cruised down the lake with a smile on my face.  I couldn't wait to get home and check out these photos.  About a mile further down the water I came across yet another bald eagle.  I couldn't believe it.

At least the light is a little better.

That's all I have for today.  I'm beat!  I have to drive 150 miles to a TWRA meeting in the morning and these computer issues are keeping me up too late.  The animals today were present in numbers for one reason.  They had habitat.  Its all about habitat for them.  Tennessee is most fortunate to have the diversity of wildlife present in so small an area.  I hope this habitat area is overlooked by realtors and property buyers.  It's all private property owned by farmers and rural folks who value their heritage more than the chink a chink in their pockets.  See ya next time.