Saturday, May 18, 2013

NEW LIFE AND A SAD DISCOVERY

Before I start this entry - I put a dog biscuit on top of the little table in my computer room to test if one of the dogs would sniff it out.  Happy came up the stairs and stopped at the top with her nose in the air.  The landing is 25 feet from the room with the table in it.  She turned in all directions, her little black nose twitching on the end of her upturned muzzle.  Without lowering her muzzle -  she walked into the room turning all the while and simply walked over to the table, stood on her rear feet and gently lifted the biscuit off the table just like she knew it was there all the time.  Isn't that amazing!  Think about it.
The shot above is of the Holston River far above Cherokee Dam near the John Sevier Steam Plant.  This area of the river is not navigable in the Fall and Winter and it is the first time I ever took a boat the entire way to the steam plant via this river.  The smoke stacks are seen in the shots above.
The "over top" dam is in the picture above.  The steam plant is to the right and out of the picture.  The white line, by the way, is water pouring over the top of the dam.
 Above:  close up of the overflow of water at the dam.
 Above:  the extreme right side, or end, of the dam.  Note: all the trees stuck on the top edge of the dam just waiting to wash over the top.
And finally the left side of the dam is shown above.  These dams are dangerous for obvious reasons.  How would you like to float downstream toward that dam and your engine wouldn't start.  Interesting scenario, isn't it?  A boat did float over the top two months ago.
The section of the river just off Beech Creek is on the other side of the dam.  I rarely appear below the dam.  

I was glad to turn around and head down the river.  I was enjoying a very pretty day.  I noticed a huge fish floating in the water.
Paddle Fish sometimes called a Spoonbill
I have no idea what killed it.  These unique fish are plentiful just below the dam.  Look at that flat bill he has.  By the way - this fish is floating belly up and back down.  Rather than talk about this fish I'll put a link below that will explain what this critter really is for those who care.  I will say this - They are ancient creatures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddlefish

I had to pause this post as I was really worn out.  Had to hit the hay and I picked it back up after returning from the lake the next day - today.  So, I will have today's activities to put up here on the blog too.  Its pouring rain today and its a good time to mess with the blog.

This immature bald eagle was on a limb that my boat would have to pass directly under.  He didn't wait for me though.


He did provide me with a few really neat shots.  Why couldn't today have had a deep, rich blue sky?  These shots could have been award winners if the sky were right.

 Even the immatures are impressive when they launch that big body into the sky.
I turned the boat around and headed back down stream.  It was about a mile below the dam when I saw an unusual sight.  Under a tree sat two really dark herons.  I guessed they were great blues but they looked unusual.  I putted on over that way as I progressed downstream.  The water became too shallow to venture closer but I could clearly see what happened.

They are two young great blue herons - babies.  The limb that held their nests blew off the tree and fell into the river below their tree.  They were still clinging to the nests.  Two nests were on the one limb.  One little fellow didn't make it.
I am not one to leave a wild critter in distress and I immediately started thinking what to do for them.  I could see me scooping them up in my fish net that I carry on the boat but, I couldn't get close enough to use it.  Even if I could get them - what would I do with them?  I know of a bird rehab center in Knoxville but that's a long way to go.  There was no way I could get the boat close.  They were clinging to their nests which were still attached to the tree limb.



Their feathers were wet and bedraggled but they were safe for the moment.  I wondered if the parents would feed them down on the water level.  They might or, they may abandon these two altogether.  I couldn't come up with anything.  I even thought about coming back later with the Gheenoe to get them.

A guy can drive himself crazy sometimes if he lets emotion control common sense out here around these beautiful animals and I am guilty of that sometimes.  No one desires to turn his back on critters in need of help, especially if that person is compasionate to innocent creatures.  These two little fellas were dealt a bad hand by Mom Nature and they lost the game.  These scenarios occur every minute of every day in nature and no one sees.  When we do see these distasteful happenings we always want to intervene.  I know I do.  Sometimes it's best to let nature sort it out.  Life is a rough, tough enterprise for wild beings.  I backed out of there and headed downstream again.  If the current doesn't wash their limb away from the base of the tree - they might have a chance.  Hopefully the parents will feed them.  If the limb does wash away then, their prognosis is very grim indeed.  One little fellow flattened himself down as close to the limb as possible as my boat passed by him.  Even in his dire predicament he tries to elude the eyes of passersby.  

Life and death, as with humans, is inevitable in the wild places.  The differences are that death for wild creatures is usually tragic and considered horrible by human estimations.  All wild critters are food for other wild critters and their deaths are not usually uneventful occurrences.  Humans have the edge on a good, easy death - if there is such a thing.  Enough of that talk.  With death comes life.  And the river is alive with new, fresh babies.




Proud parents were on outings with their brood, teaching them where to find food and how to evade danger.  The little goslings mimicked their parents at every turn.  Notice the few babies following along.  There were three times that many a week ago.  Yes - nature seems cruel by our standards.  However, nature allows enough to live to guarantee the continuation of the species.