Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This afternoon found me on the river section of Cherokee Lake.  It's the first time I've been on that water this year and I enjoyed the newness of it.  The shorelines are baron like those of the main lake and the wildlife populations are sparse because of it.  In short - no habitat equals no wildlife.  Hopefully that will change when the reservoir is filled for the Summer.
She moved silently and carefully, stepping among the boulders high atop of the cliff.  Her silhouette was broken by the shrubbery and foliage between her and the cliff's edge but, I saw her.  She was wary and non-trusting of the noisy boat I was in.  I'm happy for that.  Her fear will help keep her safe.
How did I ever see her from way down here on the water?  She was not alone.

All of a sudden she bolted.  
They disappeared into thick cover.  I caught a glimpse of her only once more as she continued her cautious journey along the edge of the cliff side.
This boat I'm in rocks madly against the rough water flowing toward it.  The river has a rapid current today caused by recent rains.  The water contains  dirty brown color we call stained, in the profession.  Handling a camera is most difficult under these conditions and I may as well left it home.  But, you know me.  I continued up stream.  The turnaround point would be a bridge named Joe B. Brown Bridge, probably named after some politician, as most bridges are around here.
A really cute little calf was enjoying his new life along the river, kicking up his heels and running to and fro.  He was delight to watch as I passed by.

Ha - kids!  He acted like any typical kid left out to play.

Up river on the left side sat a really impressive, rustic cabin.  The location was isolated.  If I lived in this cabin, I'd never leave the property.  Gorgeous!

A shadow passed over the boat and when I looked up to the sky I saw a big red tailed hawk heading for the trees.  They are so difficult to photograph when in a boat.  Red tails will not tolerate the approach of motor boats and will fly off their perch before gaining close proximity for photographs.  This one was already airborne.  The boat vibrated and rocked so badly that I had to throw away ten photographs.  Only the one below was suitable for posting and, it isn't the best.  There will be another day.
Where I failed with the red tail I think I had some degree of success photographing a passing osprey.  Ospreys are very impressive raptors when on the wing.

Shooting into the sky allowed me to select a faster shutter speed, thereby eliminating camera shake and movement caused by the nasty vibrating boat and engine I was on. I watched the osprey until he disappeared down the shoreline.

I was fast approaching the point on the river where I would turn around and return down the opposite side.  The water was becoming shallow and perilous.  If you look at the shots that follow you will see lines of waves.  Those lines are caused by water flowing over rocks or rows of rocks.  I was literally travelling up stream by reading the water and I didn't care for the print size.

The bridge was straight ahead and the water surrounding the bridge piers looked pretty wild and shallow.  I decided to turn the boat around where I was.  Why risk contacting rock with the propeller?  Below:  I couldn't see those rocks coming up river but, once past them they were obvious.
Note how the water is flowing over rock near the bridge piers.  That's bad news up there.

I felt better after getting away from all that shallow water.  I'm not out here to tear up equipment.  I settled back in the seat and slowly made way down stream.  After a mile of travel I noticed a large bird on the limb of a tree.  Closer inspection with the binoculars proved it to be another osprey.  I would be floating right past him.  The water was causing the boat to bob all around and I doubted I'd get any good shots of him.  The following is that osprey.

I knew he would soon fly off his perch, and he did.  I missed the shot due to low shutter speed.  I got the shutter speed corrected and the bird flew directly into the sun.  No luck.  Another quick, off the cuff adjustment to darken the shots was made and I shot away.

A few of those aerial shots would have been really great pictures if they weren't so washed out.  Wild critters don't always cooperate.  Actually, they rarely cooperate.
I noticed a deer step between two bushes.  That's all I saw.  It turns out that a small group of deer were moving up the wooded side of the mountain from the river.
If you look closely at the side of one of the deer in the shots below, you'll see bumps on her hide.  Those bumps are a living insect larva called a warble.  A large woods fly burrows into the flesh of the deer and lays it's eggs.  The eggs hatch into larva and grow.  Eventually they will become adult flies and emerge from the deer's flesh, rest on her body for a bit to dry, and fly off.  Wild critters don't have an easy life.

These deer blended perfectly into their surroundings.  I didn't know if it would be worth trying to photograph them or not.  I gave it a shot.  I never did get an accurate count of them as I couldn't see them all at any given time.  It was a pretty scene though.

Well, that's how the afternoon went today.  I was surprised to see that much wildlife along this section of the lake.  Its proof that the fewer people there are - the more wildlife one sees.

I can't wait until all the ducks and wading birds start to paddle around with their new born chicks up on the Holston River and Beech Creek.  The photography opportunities will be amazing, I'm certain.  Thanks for looking in and I'll see you again very soon.