Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CRITTER QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS

It was very cold today on the boat.  I think the ambient temperature was 36 degrees when I got on the water.  
I only have one summer's worth of experience on Cherokee Lake and that is not enough to really know a lake, especially a lake that is designed for flood control as well as hydroelectric power.  Shoreline habitat constantly varies with water depth thereby affecting the ability of amphibious critters to gain a foot hold.  This I understand.  Cherokee Lake is approximately eight miles North of Douglas Lake and Douglas is a flood control lake also.  The biggest difference in the two bodies of water is that Douglas is a much more narrow waterway with a mud shoreline and bottom.  Cherokee Lake is a huge sprawling body of water with shorelines formed by and covered with boulders and rocks.  Cherokee's bottom is primarily rock.
By all appearance, Cherokee Lake offers better habitat for critters than does Douglas but, Douglas has a heavy concentration of wildlife, especially water and wading birds. The presence of bald eagles on Douglas is amazing.  I've only seen a very few on Cherokee so far.  
Cherokee Lake lies North of Douglas Lake and I'd think the bald eagles migrating south would contact Cherokee before Douglas.  They, however, choose Douglas Lake as their destination.  There is a reason for this and I haven't caught on to it yet.  I'll try to figure it out through the summer.  Possibly bald eagles are concentrating in a particular area on Cherokee and I haven't found it yet.  I can not run the boat on the north end of the lake due to shallow situations.  It is said that birds of a feather flock together.  

The Holston River is the primary water source for Cherokee and I have not really focused much attention to wildlife on the upper stretches of that river because my visits to that water wasn't scheduled very heavily last year.   I will be on the Holston more frequently this summer and will have more opportunity to investigate wildlife habitat more closely.
My travels on Cherokee take me around many, many islands and islands offer limited habitat for wildlife, especially mammals.  Islands that lie close to the mainland often do hold deer as they can swim, and often do, between mainland and islands.  Coyotes, I'd think, will be relegated to the large habitat areas of the mainland.  Cherokee's islands are too many to count.  

Douglas Lake has no islands at all.  Another difference between the two lakes is that Douglas has a higher concentration of human habitation than does Cherokee.  So, again, why do bald eagles gather on that lake?  I've even run across coyotes on Douglas and countless white tail deer.  I've only seen one deer on Cherokee and it is below.  I got her in front of a deserted shack just off the shoreline.

I have noticed that the shorelines of Cherokee are covered with boulders and limit the ability of critters to reach the water.  There are however, many, many ravines with tiny creeks and streams that flow off the mountain with soil at the tops of their embankments offering trails and pathways for animals to follow and allow them lake access but they aren't there.  This is odd.  Cherokee has a more wild environment and vast forested shorelines and has fewer visible critters, while Douglas has a higher population of humans and less habitat, fewer trees, yet boasts a greater concentration of wildlife.  Very curious!


 Oh well;  curiosity makes the world go round.  If we understood everything the world would be a boring place.
East Tennessee is frigid right now and that's something else to deal with.  The cold is postponing a lot of plans I have to get out on the water in my boats.  I know the weather is nothing like Pennsylvania's weather but, its cold for Tennessee.  Stay tuned.