Sunday, April 7, 2013

BUTTER BUTTS & WOOD DUCKS

The boat slid into the water and I pulled it back to shore with the bowline.  The sun would be up in another fifteen minutes.  When I turned around to walk to the truck, I stopped in my tracks at what I saw.  I've seen some marvelous sunrises but this one was going to be a peach.  The moon casts just enough light to make the sky brilliant blue.  What a vision!
The sweet thing about it is that I only had on a fleece jacket.  The Winter garments were tucked behind the seat of the truck.  I hope they stay there until next Winter.  The early morning sun created that warm, yellow light that I love.  I tarried about the boat and ramp until the light of day allowed me to see well enough to sail down Beech Creek to the Holston River.  Old Sol was well up by the time I turned onto the Holston.  It was going to be a glorious morning for sure.

There's that yellow light.  Love it.  I was the only soul on the lake so far.  I headed up the shoreline slowly.  When I checked my camera for optimum shutter speed I found I was only good for 1/25th of a second.  That's practically useless on critters.  I found out very soon that I would have to learn to use that low speed on one of my favorite critters.

As luck would have it ole Bucky Beaver was making his way along the cattails toward his lodge.  I had to really get creative with the camera set up.  White balance got a click to the positive and the brightness control received a turn of the selector wheel.  It was go with what I had or miss the little guy.  Notice how bright and pink the shots are.  That is the result of my guess work on set up.  These are hand held shots on 1/20th of a second with a 500 mm telephoto lens hand held.  Whew!

He saw the boat and veered to the side.  I had time to maybe get one more shot in before he'd dive.
And, as I expected, he dived with a loud smack of his tail and was gone.  How neat is all that?!


All this that I am surrounded by is what keeps me sane.  Each journey to this water is a different experience.  Everything is alive and beautiful and, I'm not overstating.  To be immersed in such an environment purges ills from the body and mind resulting in a calmness that I can't explain.  One's environment controls much of who we are and how we feel.  That's why Cherokee and Douglas Lakes both tax my abilities to remain calm and carefree.
Yep - the sun is getting higher.  The morning is guaranteed to be a super experience!
The river dwellers are beginning to come to life.  Soon, the guards will be called in and the light of day will reveal any dangers that may threaten the inhabitants.  The last guard still maintains his post.  He's on overtime.
Well, well - I guess the early bird catches the worm or, gets the nuts.

I'll bet that white face is a dead giveaway to the countless hawks that soar over these shorelines.  He'd better keep a sharp watch on the sky.


Fortunately for the little white faced squirrel the large bird above him is an osprey and not a red tail hawk.  Osprey's are called fish eagles and fish is their primary prey.  

What a very cool, WOW, morning!  Yep - nice office this morning.
I crossed the lake to the opposite side and while doing so noticed tiny water rings extending out from the brushy bank.   It was a male wood duck.  The light was dead on him and it was bright yellow and bright.  I can't mess this up.



He was all ready poised and ready to fly.  They have no tolerance at all for us humans. I'm glad of it.  I would only be able to get a shot or two more.

Gorgeous!  Wood ducks are sensational!  I got a shot of him flying off but it was not crisp.  This light seems bright but, the light meter isn't saying that.  I still can't crank enough shutter speed in to capture speedy critters.
I was drifting toward the island where the goose has her nest.  I know she is sitting on eggs as she will absolutely not be moved from her nest.  She holds perfectly still and flattens herself down as close to the ground as possible in her attempts to blend into the surroundings.  But, she never takes her eyes off me.



This little island will be covered with babies soon.  Can't wait.  I'm up here every other day and I'm sure I'll be in on the delivery.


And, this one makes more racket and noise than any other Denison of this river.

 What a noisy fellow!  He is totally bent out of shape over something.  Good Grief!


Bucky Beaver had been busy last night.  Look at how may teeth cuts he's made.  Amazing critter,  the beaver.
I was clear down on the John Sevier Steam Plant end of the river and have not seen one fishing boat.  I know why.  It's Sunday and no one will do anything until after church.  That's just how it is up here.  This is an afternoon fishing place for these folks on Sunday.  And, that's just fine with me.  I crossed the water to the opposite shoreline and would be passing by the eagle's nest.  One of the adults was in the nest, which I can't photograph due to tree branches and, the other adult was on the limb of an adjacent tree.  He was very far away but I tried to photograph him anyway.  As usual - the sun was directly behind him.  





I knew the shots would be washed out but I hoped they would adequately show the eagle in some semblance of normalcy.  They turned out better than I expected.  I doubt I'll get to photograph the babies as the trees will be heavy with foliage shortly eliminating any chance of photography.  Too bad..
I was heading back toward Beech Creek and I decided to stop the boat on a snag near the river bank and hang out for awhile to allow any anglers to launch and motor out to the river.  Time for a peanut butter sandwich anyhow.
A couple coots paddled near, totally oblivious to my presence.



All of a sudden the loudest chorus of chirping I've heard in a long while started.  It emanated from the trees.  What in the world?  Then, I saw a familiar little bird.  

He is a yellow rumped warbler, commonly called a "butter butt."  The following shot explains it all.
The birds were moving together in a flock, searching for food, in the trees along the shoreline.  None of the birds alighted on a limb or twig for more than a couple seconds before he was off on his foraging tasks again.







These guys are very hard to get in the camera.  Most won't sit still long enough to focus on them.  The little guy above perched on that twig for the purpose of preening his feathers which allowed me extra time to catch him.  He's a sweetie.









All these butter butt pictures is my attempt to push you all over the edge into boredom.  I personally am never bored with the natural world and look upon this little bird as a privilage I didn't know I'd have when I left home this morning.
 And there he goes.  "Good luck little guy."
I'm finding myself getting hooked onto birds.  They are really interesting and their identification is one of the most challenging enterprises one can undertake.  Below is a horned grebe.  It's the first one I've ever seen.




I better stop this entry here.  I know you all will get bored if I continue.  I'm off tomorrow and the day is to be sunny, warm and ----windy.  I'll deal with it.  Maybe it's time to pull the motorcycle out.  We'll see.  Enjoy the Springtime.  See ya.....