Tuesday, May 14, 2013

AFTERNOON ON CHEROKEE LAKE & a visit to the inland pond



I got on Cherokee Lake at 11AM this morning to run the afternoon shift.  This lake is really pretty now but I found myself quickly getting bored.  The wind was up and the surface very rough.  That's not the issue.  The issue is that there is no wildlife on this entire 50 mile long lake.  It's amazing!  Occasionally the odd critter will show up but it is not frequent.  The problem is that the water lowered about 60 feet from Fall in May every year and the shoreline habitat is nonexistent.  The shorelines are normal through the Summer and critters could have a great home.  But, in the Fall they're left high and dry for Winter - about 50 to 60 feet above the water line.  No wading birds or aquatic mammals can tolerate that.  Even the bald eagles are very scarce.  I guess I know I probably won't have the pleasure of viewing wild critters before I even get on the water here.  People live on the shorelines but, the islands in the center of the lake are wild.  They are empty of wildlife too.  Oh well - I can deal with it but it's a long day without wildlife.  Occasionally a deer or two will appear here and there or a beaver.  I know where two bald eagles frequent.  Great blue herons and great egrets are plentiful, as are the cormorants.  Mallard ducks and the infrequent sighting of a wood duck can be counted on.  They are appreciated but all are common fare.  I like the excitement of seeing the odd critter.  This lake is a prime example of not providing habitat for wild creatures when it was built.  The real estate business was, however, given great consideration.  Oh well.
Cherokee is wide, long and sprawling so I usually cover my area by driving down the center of the lake through and around the islands to the end and then returning down a shoreline.  I noticed a mixture of great egrets and great blue herons in trees off to my right at the mouth of an inlet that I had to enter.
The great blue heron in the shots above and below was acting odd.  His head constantly turned left and right and he would look directly down in front of him over and over.
A great egret swooped down over him time and time again.  All of a sudden the heron plunged his head, neck and half his body into the water.  He was totally upside down.  What the heck!  In the first place - great blue herons aren't made to dive, paddle on the surface of even land on the water.  They are wading birds and do not have webbed toes.  This guy was odd.  A couple of cormorants swam close to him and were diving.  That proves there was a school of shad beneath them and they were vying for first dibs on the bait fish.  In other words it's the "who gets to own the school of shad?"
He disappeared under the surface and quickly reappeared and pulled himself off the surface and into the air.   He commenced to flap his big wings at the two cormorants trying to drive them off.  The cormorants can be seen in the shot above.  
Then, along came a great egret that attacked the great blue heron and tried to drive him off.  Good Grief!
When a food source is located in the wild - it is protected vigorously.  There are no share and share alike.  Food is precious.  Greed doesn't enter into the equation.  There is no ending to this story as they saw my boat and all exited stage left.
Even the egret standing quietly on a boulder took off.



I busted up the party, or the picnic, however you want to look at it.  The great blue heron did a drive by past the front of my boat.

We, Shade and I, were on the water for 5 hours now and I was hungry.  Yep - peanut butter sandwiches.  I was near the island with the little pond on it and decided to take a break there.  I wanted to walk around the pond anyway.  I will camp on this island, eventually.


The above three shots are looking in at the pond from the lake.  I walked around the edge of the pond to the back side.  The view across the pond and out onto the lake are really pretty.  Those views follow:



More shots follow from the rear of the pond only from a slightly different angle.  The ridge of land with the trees directly in front is the barrier that separates the pond from the lake.


I looked for a good place to throw up the OZ Tent.
The shot above shows where the tent goes.  I'd set it up right in front of that log laying diagonally to the ground.
The view out the front door of the tent follows below:

Ya - I can do an overnight here for sure.  Shade likes the place.



My devoted friend is having a great time.  I wish I could get her out to wild places more frequently.  My best friend - she'd follow me anywhere and I'd do anything for her.

We had to hit the water again and finish the run.  We were on the return route.



We travelled down the shoreline on the right side of the lake.  Lake and boat houses were frequently seen.   There are many coves and inlets along that shore and geese, herons and egrets can usually be seen in all of them.  Speaking of geese - new families have been formed.


At the sight and noise of my boat - mom and dad shuttled the kids off into the water and placed the youngsters between them as they paddled down the shore.



The wind was really blowing and the main bay had two foot swells on it.  I was glad the shift was over.  So, that's the day.  It's back up to Beech Creek tomorrow.  The weather is to be fantastic.  
I finished mowing the   $%&@  grass tonight and I'm beat.  See ya.

Here's a couple more great egret shots: