Wednesday, April 24, 2013

RAIN'S COMING TO THE RIVER

"Where am I?  Everything looks different.  Sure was a long winter.  What's that loud sound behind me?"
"What's that big white thing in the river?  Somethins movin on it too.  Things sure have changed since I went to bed last Fall."
"That's it.  I'm goin back in my hole and I ain't commin out till tomorrow.  Maybe things will quiet down.  What is that big white thing behind me and what's that movin around on it?  Guess I'll move the hole further inland next Fall.  This disturbance is terrible"
We here in East Tennessee are scheduled to get some heavy rain late afternoon.  A few sprinkles fell early here at Beech Creek.  I should be able to make my rounds on the river and be off before the heavy rainfalls.  The critters know it's going to rain.  They are experts and move to sheltered, overhanging shorelines and into the thick foliage of trees.  I can see rough winged swallows flying into the holes in the vertical river bank.  Everyone is halting activity early.
 Tree Swallow


The local osprey didn't seem to care about the weather.  I could hear his mate shrieking from across the river high up on the stone cliff, their nest hidden by a wall of thick green leaves.


The birds of prey always perch high forcing me to photograph them against the sky, which is usually white or gray in color.  That's a tough exposure situation.  I got im though.



He soon lost his patience with me and flew back across the river.  He took me by surprise with his take-off as can be seen in the next shot.
The next series of photos shows a great blue heron fishing.  Look at the size of the fish he pulled out of the water.  There's no way he can eat that thing.  I've seen one other heron with a monster fish last fall.  Two black vultures followed him all around and finally relieved him of the fish.  Poor thing.


That is a really big fish for him to handle.  I watched the whole process of catching that fish.  He slowly extended his neck and he plunged his bill into the water as fast as lightning and up came the fish.  The other interesting thing is that he never moved his feet an inch.  This means that the fish was right against the shoreline behind that wood you see in the picture.  There is only about a foot distance from the log to the shore.  Wonder what that fish was doing so close to shore.  No doubt there is space under that log for him to swim to and from deep water.  Spawning probably.  I can't tell if it's a bass or not.  He didn't eat it in the picture below.  He put it down on the ground.


The rest of the time on the water was uneventful.  I checked on the two mother geese and one mom is still on the nest and the other has had her chicks but, she has them stashed back in the grass and I couldn't see them.  I'll take their pictures eventually.

I have searched and searched and can not find one otter.  The trappers have had their day.  I despise trapping.  It's an insidious, cowardly way to kill animals.  If you are a trapper - don't even consider leaving any comments.   I don't want to get started.  I've got reams of data that indicate that trapping has outlived its time.  This section of river is one example of the usefulness of trapping.  Last Fall the otters put a smile on my face all day long.  They played and showed their curiosity at my presence.  I saw them each and every visit I made to their water.  After trapping season I have not seen even one otter.  Why can't humans look, watch and enjoy?  What is the motivation that drives man to kill beautiful things?  I hope the Chinese enjoy the firs of these beautiful, unique creatures because that's where the hides go.  Of course, the carcass is tossed onto the land fill.  What a tragic end for such a non threatening, beautiful animal!  I almost took off on a rant there.  Sorry.
We'll see what tomorrow brings.  It's been a really nice visit to the river.  All was quiet and serene - just like I like it.