Saturday, April 6, 2013

CANOEING ON BEECH CREEK

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Fed X delivered twelve Thuja Pines yesterday and I had to plant them early this morning.  I’m building a solid, living fort around the perimeter of this property.  I want nothing to do with humans when I’m hiding out at home.  The planting took around two hours and delayed my plans to go to Beech Creek but, I still got a fairly early start.  I loaded up the Mohawk canoe and was down the road.
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The water was very muddy and a bit on the high side.  The recent rain fell relentlessly yesterday and last night.  The Holston River reacts quickly to rain.  The bottom of Beech Creek at the confluence with the Holston had a backward flowing current due to the Holston flowing “up” Beech Creek.  However, a half mile upstream on Beech Creek – the current was flowing naturally.  Wonder what happens to the water when the down-flow meets the up-flow.  The wind was quiet with occasional gusts to ten miles per hour.  In short – a perfect afternoon for a canoe ride.
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The last picture shows wet lands adjacent to the river.  This is deal duck habitat and they use it profusely.  Mallards and blue winged teal are the primary ducks on the creek.  There are a few geese and wood ducks but, for the most part the greater concentration of ducks is on the edges of the Holston.
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The above shot shows the super habitat along this creek.  Beyond the weeds, cattails and brush lays swampy areas with nice, large pools of water – perfect for ducks and duck nests.
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A red tail hawk was circling the cliffs on the other side of the water and I pulled over to get the canoe out of the current so I might be able to get a shot or two of it.
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He was about a hundred yards away and circled constantly.  They usually circle and move constantly over different territory but this guy was handing out rotating around one particular tree lined cliff.  By the way – this is the blond variation of the red tail hawk.
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Its going to be a tight squeeze up ahead.  There’s a branch crossing the water below head high.  Oh well – I’ll see if I can get through it.  I’m about a mile and a half up the stream at this point and should probably start back anyway.
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I could squeeze under that if I really needed to but, I’m lazy today.  I’m out here for the paddling experience and nothing else.  I’m not even really looking for critters to photograph.  If they show – I’ll attempt to photograph them.  I’m simply enjoying the process of moving this super boat down the water.  It’s a great tension reliever.  Yes, I pickup tension at times – usually caused by Mr. Obama.  I don’t believe I even thought of that name way out here.  Good Grief!
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Now, there’s something I haven’t noticed before.  Bamboo.  Wonder how that stuff got out here.
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Blue winged teal flushed from the edge of the water.  The boat is center stream and I’ll have to shoot fast as the canoe will instantly react to current and breeze.
Put the paddle down, grab the camera, focus, pan with the birds and hope the shutter speed is fast enough.  Whew!
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Good heavens – these birds are fast.  They shot through the trees and back down the creek in the opposite direction I was heading.  Really challenging photography.  I had difficulty keeping up with them while panning the camera.  That big lens is heavy and the rotating canoe didn’t help.
A single duck flew out of the group and went his own way.
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Ah – here’s a few old friends.  Look at the mud still on their shells.  They haven’t been out of the mud long.
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And there’s the tail.  There’s always one of these along the river and creek.
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That nest that I thought was an eagle’s nest has me thinking otherwise.  I saw the bird’s head barely sticking above the edge of the nest.  It isn’t an eagle.  It has to be a hawk.  Sure is a big nest for a hawk’s nest.  Look closely when you click on the photo and you’ll see the dark head.
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The nest is really far off and I can’t get closer unless I “trespass” on someone’s private land.  Yes – everything is private property.  Everything!
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More Teal were hiding out in the weeds of the wet land.
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I pulled into a growth of cat tails and stopped the canoe for a look about.  My binoculars are in the state truck, as usual, and I’m at a terrible disadvantage out here on the critter end of things.  I have to move slower than usual because I can’t see what's along the water far enough ahead of me to make variations in my approach.
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There were ducks down there but, they were too far away.  I did find an outstanding forsythia bush.
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Mutt Ducks.  Simple birds – innocent and bother nothing or no one – outcasts on the water respected by none.
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It’s a long drive up here just to spend a few hours on the water.  I have no choice in the matter as there isn’t any decent water anywhere close to home.  It’s either voyage to distant, normal water or quit with the boats.  I’ll keep going until the gasoline gets too crazy or Obama cuts social security benefits as he says he is going to do.  If that happens – well – we’ll see.  Hope you enjoyed my afternoon.  See ya.
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