Friday, May 31, 2013


I knew this morning was going to be beautiful.  I was up at 4:00AM and on the porch with a coffee, feet up on the railing, Shade beside the rocking chair and just enjoyed the absence of human noise.  I was just waiting to get going to the river.  The temperatures were to reach 90 degrees and that would mean a super nice, cool, early morning launch.  I'd be leaving the water just when the temperatures really heat up. I believe everyone thinks I'm nuts at work because I can't wait to get to work.  Guess it does sound odd.
 Oh ya!  I'd be on the water in another fifteen minutes.  Then I saw him.  He was walking down the center of the road toward me.  I pulled the truck over to the side and made an instant decision to pick him up and take him home to live with us.  What's one more dog?   His white coat was stained brown on the bottom and he walked with his head down.  I saw no collar.  Ideas flew through my head - to the vet, shots, heart worm testing, Heart Guard, Front Line and a clip, or shave of his hair.  It was all OK in my head and I was perfectly set to accomplish all those things for him.  I got out of the car and went down on one knee and called softly to him.  He bolted.  I called again and he stopped and looked at me, then walked quickly up a side road.  I couldn't get him.  It's so sad - so very sad.

The water and scenery was spectacular!  Everything was gorgeous and the morning promised to be a memorable occasion.  There weren't many critters out on the water or even in the trees at the edge of the water.  Birds were deep in the center of the trees under the shade of foliage and beavers and otters, if there are any otters left, would be keeping to the shade of the under cut banks.  I saw one beaver making his way along the shoreline across the river in the shadows of the river bank.

The water was dropping in the river, finally.  A damp water mark from the night before indicates how much the water level has gone down.

 A king bird sat on a stem waiting for an insect to fly by.  He would jump into the air and grab the moth or damsel fly on the wing and return to his perch.  I was unsuccessful at photographing that activity.  I'll make a point of photographing it though.  I had to steer the boat, handle the camera,  watch the bird and judge when he was going to make his move to photograph him.  Couldn't pull it off.

 As usual the colors were dazzling!  It's like being in a fairy tale up here on this water.
I went up stream as far as I dared considering the lowering water level.  I would cross the river and return down that side to the John Sevier Steam Plant.  The boat was idling along at 8 miles per hour.
Like kids hanging out on the corner of the street - the local cormorants seemed to be discussing what they were going to do today.  The turtles basking in the sun appeared not to be bothered in the least at the intrusion.

I was slowly moving downstream about thirty feet from the bank and using the binoculars to scan under the trees as well as back into the dark holes in the bank that so many critters use for homes.  I drifted past a tree on the bank and moved the binoculars down to the waterline to scan the deep holes that lined the shore.  That's when I saw a different shade of brown on a ledge to the right side of a big hole in the bank.  What was that?  Otter came to mind.  Was that an otter catching morning sun?  I drifted well below the hole in the wall and made a wide turn that would take me well above the hole.
The current was very slow and the boat drifted dead straight down the river.  I looked again at the discoloration on the ledge and it appeared to be a sleeping otter.
I looked and looked and the boat moved closer and closer and I finally made out a tiny, tiny little face.  Then, a beaver came crashing down the bank from the tall grass above, splashed into the water and swam into the hole in the wall.

The little faces along with the bodies dropped off and behind the ledge.  Three tiny, brown babies could be seen swimming into the hole behind the adult beaver.  The ledge was empty.  I held the boat with the electric motor.  After only about thirty seconds, two little hands appeared on the ledge - then a little face came over the top.  A second little face appeared and two baby beavers pulled themselves back up onto their ledge and lay there.  Wow!  Baby beavers are not something one sees often, if ever.  Even the pro photographers don't run across them often if ever.  This moment is priceless.  Here they are.

 The warm sun was causing them to go to sleep.  They finally did.

Aw - wook at a widdle abie bweeberbs

I posted a lot of shots up here because I could go through life and never see this sight again.  This is indeed a rare moment.  I wish with all my heart and mind that I could repeat this day with an otter family.  Talk about precious moments!  I let the boat drift on past and fired it up after floating well away from their burrow.  A satisfied feeling came over me and all was right with the world - at least out here it was.
I motored past the little great blue heron rookery and shot a few pictures of them as they waited on and near their nests for new additions to their numbers.

I was almost at the end of the run for the morning and would soon be passing the bald eagles who resided high up on the side of the mountain.  Sir Harry Eagleton and his mate, Priscilla were catching the morning sun.

Those are all long shots.  I laid on my stomach on the fore-deck and rested the big 500 mm lens on the trolling motor for support, and to avoid camera shake.  The image stabilization was shut off as the lens contact with a solid object would counter the stabilizing affect of the feature.  The boat rocking on the water was too much to hand hold and get the shots at this tremendous distance unless I used high shutter speed.  I really wanted to get this pair of eagles in my files.  The results aren't too shabby   And yes - I was shooting into the sun but with the additional stability achieved by supporting the lens - I could use lower shutter speeds than I normally would.  The polarizing filter really helps too.   Oh well - I got em.
This has been a tremendous day I'll not soon forget.  Every day is full of surprises and I can't wait to get out there and discover them.  Glad I don't work in a city.  The canoe is calling again and the Gheenoe is tempting me also.  Every minute is filled to the top and it still isn't enough time.  See ya later and thank you for taking interest.