Sunday, September 16, 2012


I've been dying to go for a canoe paddle but the weather people were calling for foul weather today  and I took the Gheenoe instead.  The bad weather never unfolded.  It was an over cast day but no rain.  Figures!
Its no big deal about the canoe.  I really wanted to be on this water in the canoe but, I love this boat also.  Its a great exploration vessel and a perfect platform for photography.  The Gheenoe is a great river boat too and I can move around from place to place quickly.

I launched the boat and motored down to the end of the creek where it joins the French Broad River.  The electric trolling motor was lowered and I took my seat on the bow and slowly and silently cruised along the shoreline looking for otters.  This is stressful business, otter searching.  The shoreline is searched through squinted eyes and the shutter button finger must remain in position and poised on the shutter button.  Instant camera setting alterations may be necessary to accommodate the situation at hand.  All this and the managing of the boat weigh heavy on one's shoulders out here in the wilds.  Below you'll see that I'm prepared to analyse any situation and handle any circumstance that may arise and instantly react as necessary.  And, you thought this was all fun.
 The morning was overcast and I thought today would be the day otters would be out and about.  It wasn't long before I saw a familiar friend.   This little squirrel must patrol the shoreline on a daily basis.  He is everywhere from hiking on the undercut river bank to climbing every tree above it.  He's fun to watch and interesting to photograph.  He is in the shade one moment and in the bright sun the next.  This facilitates constant camera adjustments with the result being good practice changing camera settings instantaneously.   

Look at his reflection in the water - above.

I hope I'm not overdoing it with the squirrel shots.  He's a regular on this shoreline and I can't just watch him without photographing him.  The little fellow sure has a long tail.  If you get bored looking at squirrels, just move on down the entry.  There's more.

These are pied-billed grebes.  They get to be about a pound in weight and are about 13 inches long.  pied-bills are excellent swimmers and divers and fly ultra fast.  I haven't seen them on this water until today.  I don't know how they range about but I do know they are usually seen in limited company, with one or two other grebes.

There were some grebes swimming through the grass that lines the lake shores.  They appeared smaller.  At first I thought they might be young grebes and indeed may be.  I have to read up on grebes.

I fired up the engine and slowly idled down the shoreline past Beech Creek and eased over close to the grass.  I noticed wood ducks in this area and it would be a treat to photograph them.  The wood ducks are so small that they actually stand on the matted grass floating on the water without falling through.  The only way to see them in the grass is with binoculars.  The little rascals will stand stationary without even a movement until the boat passes.  There is a bald eagle who resides  far up on the mountain in a growth of very old, huge trees and I usually see him perched in the trees nearer the river bank after mid morning.

The only critters in the grass this morning were red winged black birds and one green heron.  We already know a lot about green herons so I won't comment.  I glassed the trees ahead.
His Majesty was there.  He stood out bold and bright, as he should.  As usual, he was back lit by the sky.  Good Grief!

I heard a growl to my left rear and snapped my head around to see what was up.  The sound startled me.  Two brown faces with whiskers were looking at me.  I tried to make camera changes but wasn't fast enough.  They disappeared with two plops.  The both stuck their heads up again but this time they were in grass covered water.  The camera was set but they didn't stay visible long enough for a picture.  I glanced at the eagle to make sure he was still there.  He was.  Then a movement on the undercut river bank got my attention.  There was an otter in front of me.  There were three otters.  They evidently were heading to this shoreline together.  One must have been further ahead of the other two.  He didn't see me yet.  I fired away.  It was dark under the undercut bank.  All I could do was hope the shots would be acceptable.

There is a second little face just above the water in some of the shots.  Its under the plainly visible otter.  The little guy poked his head up just through the grass covered water.  Look closely.  And the eagle was still there.

He sat there preening his feathers.  I really wanted him to fly.  I love the impressive pictures of eagles launching off limbs or landing in trees.  This guy seemed happy just sitting there.  I situated myself so I would be ready at the moment he decided to fly off.  I sat for an hour and a half waiting.  He would not fly.

The eagle extended each wing down stretching his muscles just like a human.  First one was extended and then the other.

A pack of coyotes howled from a great distance away and a screech owl was calling from somewhere across the river.  The osprey that was soaring above the water was chirping loudly but was outdone by the flock of geese flying overhead.  What a place!

The geese are proof that Fall is just around the corner.

My arms were aching holding the heavy camera.  Will he never fly off?

He is extending his wing down again.  I guess even eagles get sore muscles.  I know I'm getting sore muscles waiting for him to fly so that I can photograph the launch.  

I have to move or I'll be stuck in this contorted position when they find me here sometime next week.  My legs have been cramped and bent for over an hour while holding the big lens on the eagle the whole time.

I whistled to him and he still wouldn't fly.  I guess this is what eagles do all day when they aren't hunting.  He still looks awesome!
 The shots above and below are proof that I can be diversified with my photography of wild life.  (tongue in cheek)
belted kingfisher

 Look - natural colors.  Further proof that I can be diversified.

Its time to start back to the truck.  This is a long drive and I've got to get the dogs some feed.  This piece of water is an amazing habitat for just about any critter lucky enough to find it.  I have never had so many interesting animals to photograph together in one place on the same day.  

I had written a little piece about my views on the modern day outdoors sportsman. I started it twice while on the lake today. Its a difficult task. I want to present my view points about wildlife and those who hunt it. I am passionate about wildlife and habitat and sometimes I may come across as some kind of activist or anti this or that, which I am not. I can see how that could happen. I just want to present my beliefs to the reader to alleviate any incorrect interpretations concerning how I view the hunter/watcher relationships with wildlife. I'll do it tomorrow night after I get off the lake. Hope you liked the entry for the day. Thank you for your readership.

A few more grebe shots follow: