Saturday, April 13, 2013


I know everyone is getting tired of looking at the Holston River on here but, I've been kind of tied to that body of water as far as photography goes.  Cherokee Lake, as large as it is, doesn't offer much in the way of wildlife.  It has its moments though.  Soon, baby ducks of all varieties will be popping around on the surface and that will be interesting.  The great egrets are returning for Summer too.  Many other critters will make their appearance as Spring rolls on.  Soon there will be other topics that I will be working on to post here.  I have a very strong urge to paddle a canoe the entire circumference of Calderwood Lake and will do so very, very soon.  Calderwood is the diamond of all lakes as far as I'm concerned.  Shade and I will be camping on Calderwood Lake in the near future also.  The water in the Rankin Bird Sanctuary should be about deep enough to float the Gheenoe and the island in the center of the French Broad River should be starting to flood.  This will offer some fantastic photographic opportunities for wading birds, coyotes and other water critters.  Lots of good canoeing will be accomplished up there also.   My annual trip to Pennsylvania via the Blue Ridge Parkway on a motorcycle is sort of scheduled to.  A canoe paddle on Indian Boundary Lake will take place very, very soon.  I need to do that before the tourists arrive down here.   I'll keep posting pictures from the Holston as I'm there every other day.  It is a beautiful piece of water.  Hang in there.
I saw a black critter slink rapidly behind the logs and weeds on the shore.  There's only one thing that color.  It had to be a mink.
Minks belong to the weasel family and this guy was acting very much like a weasel.  He was staying behind cover, travelling parallel to the water and keeping weeds, brush and wood between himself and the open.  I couldn't get a clear shot at him.  
This river has it all.  The mink appeared to flow over obstacles, but he wouldn't pick his head up.  He stayed close to the ground.  The boat was drifting past him and he became wise to my presence and stopped.  Then he disappeared just like that.
Now, at least, I know this river has mink on it and I can keep my eyes open for them.  They are not pushovers for the camera.  The best way to approach mink is in a canoe moving in total silence or a blind set up near a mink haunt where the edge of a lake or river can be viewed.  I'll eventually get em.
I was going past the island where the two mother geese were incubating their eggs.  The first mom was still sitting close to the ground while the second was off her nest.

It's unusual for a mother goose to leave her nest if there are eggs in it.  Wonder what's up with that.  Look at all that soft down in her nest.  On my return trip I went past a second time and she was back on her nest.  Interesting, and its good to know she's alright.!

These two pied billed grebes had really pretty markings on their heads and necks.  I don't know if that is special breeding plumage or not.  I'll have to check.  Normally the pied bills have rather bland coloration.

And, of course a trip to the water wouldn't be complete without an osprey.  I don't see any osprey nests on or along the edges of this river at all.  Actually, there aren't many of them up here.  I only know of two.  Who can figure why that is?

The next little guy needs no introduction.  I saw him - photographed him and that's that.
Wood ducks were moving along the shoreline in the brush.
 Notice the cape at the back of his head extending off his neck.  A beautiful duck!
They absolutely will not allow me to get close enough for great shots.  They don't like white boats either.  When they position themselves with their tails toward the bank - it's a tip off that they are prepared to take flight at any second - and he did.

My goodness they are fast!
The above is a wood duck box.  It's a shame this box isn't serviceable because it is needed right now.  I think responsible parties need to come up here and evaluate the wildlife situation, especially the wood duck box situation.

This is by far the most spectacular day, weather wise, since the beginning of last Fall.  The only thing missing are otters.  Their story is a sad one that I don't care to get into here.
She was laying down in the dense cover and my boat engine caused her alarm.  I wish she could know I'm her friend.
Mallards and wood ducks were blasting off the shoreline everywhere.  I'm telling you - this place will be covered up with baby ducks soon.  Can't wait!

The bald eagle nest was hidden by foliage already.  It's hard to believe the leaves have covered it from view in so short of time.  At least it's safer that way.
I'd be off the water in another hour.  There's really nothing new here.  It's the same critters in different poses and doing different things.  The mink was a nice addition and I wish I could have had a better opportunity to photograph him.  That's the way it is with wildlife.

Thanks for joining me in this great morning.  See ya soon.