Friday, October 5, 2012

WHERE HAVE ALL THE BIRDS GONE?

The Gheenoe cruised over great water on this bright, sunny afternoon.  I was headed for the Rankin flood plain one more time.  I saw no bald eagles on the way.  Possibly I'll spot one on the way back.
5:30 AM this morning found me in the state truck pulling the state boat to north Knoxville to a boat trailer builder.  I had two flat tires on the left side yesterday with only one spare.  That was a slow ride home from the lake.  Both tires were worn through on the inside.  The trailer axles are out of line or the wheel spindles may be bent.  Anyway, its more than the average shade tree mechanic can handle.  The ride there was worse than the usual interstate struggle.  I thought an early start would save my road nerves but I was wrong.  Insane drivers blasted around both sides of me in some desperate attempt to get to work first or find death first.  I have never seen such imbecilic driving ever in my life.  I never drove like that  even when working in industry in Pennsylvania.  Turn signals are not used and everyone is ten feet off the bumper of the car in front of them.  55 or 65 miles per hour is the speed limit and the world is travelling 75 or 80.   I leave distance between me and the car in front and some toy, plastic car rams into my space from either left or right.  I'm thinking, "man - I don't belong here at all."  I set the rig on 60 miles per hour and thought, "the hell with all of em."

It was particularly enjoyable driving the boat up the lake to the river today.  That little boat is a joy to handle.  The ambient temperature was not cool and not too warm.  Perfect!  I saw only two fishing boats on the way upstream.  Something was strikingly obvious.  There were no birds to be seen.  Only a handful of great egrets and the reliable great blue heron were present.  There was a flock of geese gathered at the edge of the riverbank resting for the pilgrimage soon to come.  I beached the boat on the flood plain and went on foot.

All that flat, green plain is covered with anywhere from 3 to 7 feet of water all summer long.  Its hard to believe sometimes that I have floated a boat where I am walking right now.  The river splits and the right arm cuts up along that mountain you see in the distance.  To my back is the main river, or the left arm of it that separates this land from the main land.  In essence - this remarkable place is an island.  Amazing.  The neat thing about it is that it keeps cars and people where they belong - back at the road side - unless they have a boat.  

I could see nothing through the binoculars.  The sun was bright at 4 PM so, maybe I was too early to see animals roaming the open spaces.  I missed the little green herons who populate these places in the summer.  The mallards are absent as are the teals.  Its as if they held a meeting and departed for parts unknown together.

 I floated over that dark green strip of green one day in the state boat and found over 50 bryozoans attached to plant stems.  I've never seen so many.  We talked about bryozoans before so I won't go into them again.

The butterflies above and below were taken with the 500 mm lens.  I am very satisfied with the results.  That's not the lens of choice for macro photography.  Actually, its the last lens of choice for insects.  Look closely at the strange butterfly image below.  The focus has caught the plant stem that was in front of the insect and seems to have divided the butterfly.  Odd shot!
No coyotes.  Oh well - I can come back any time.  I am disappointed in the loss of the birds.  They are on their migratory journeys now and will return to the lake in early spring.  Some will winter over on this lake but the majority of them are gone.  Even the cormorants are missing. The lake seems so gray and boring without the birds.  I suddenly realized that birds make the color of the lake.  They are the cheer.  Their antics, beauty and grace accent the scenic surroundings.  I really miss them.  I looked for the bald eagles on the way back and none were present.  They are still here.  I just didn't have any luck finding them today.  A distant shoreline is, however, occupied by the silent, slow moving dark ones.
Wild turkeys can always be counted upon to make a late afternoon showing on the shorelines.
Turkeys are so mysterious!  They are there in front of you and, then they aren't.  They seem to evaporate before my eyes.  Turkeys are masters at caution and are very sharp at seeing the foe before being seen.  I have the upper hand with the boat and surprise them at will.  The binoculars have a lot to do with it too.

It was a relaxing afternoon.  I enjoyed the boat a lot today.  The walk on the dry flood plain was also pleasure.   It doesn't take much to keep me occupied.   I've noticed a low tire on my boat trailer and will have to address that in the morning.  I think its time to spend more time at Beech Creek and give Rankin a rest.  I have the urge for more otter pictures.  My new truck is at Nashville and I'll be getting a call to go pick it up soon.  I'll remove the tool box and other stuff from the old truck in the morning.  That will take me to about 1 PM.  I noticed the motorcycle looking lonely last night and I think I'll take it across the Chirohala Skyway tomorrow afternoon.  Who knows?  Thanks for visiting the blog.
Oh - Want to read a real joke?  Look below.  Talk about false advertisement!  Don't believe it.  I'm living proof.