Sunday, May 19, 2013

ON THE RIVER WITH BEAVERS



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I think something's coming

We go through this daily and it doesn't get easier for me.  Shade sits on the porch and watches until I put her in the house and drive away.  When she knows she's going with me, she runs to the truck.  Seeing her like this makes my heart get tight.  I am not always in an area where I can beach the boat for her to get off and it's not fair to keep her on the boat for six or seven hours.  The best thing for her is to just wait under the ceiling fans at home. 
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What a head game she plays with me and she doesn't even know she's doing it.  She's innocent.
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Today is another Holston River day and the mountains I was passing on the way to the river looked ominous.
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Heavy rain is predicted for the afternoon and night and I sort of hoped the rain would arrive early.  I like it.  I could hear thunder far off in the distance every once in awhile.
By the way - I got this muscovy duck issue figured out.  I stated that the white ducks with red faces were Muscovy ducks indigenous to Tennessee.  There is a twist to that.
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The duck above is a muscovy duck
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Look closely at the two ducks above.  The far duck is a muscovy.  The closer duck is a Chinese duck.  Yep.  Chinese ducks are domestic ducks.  I learned that a landowner near the boat ramp has the Chinese variety on his pond.  A few left his property and started hanging out with the muscovies.  I'm told they are cross breeding now.  That's not a good thing in nature.  But, notice the dark wings and the Elvis Presley combed hair of the near duck.  Very different than the official muscovy.  So there ya are.  Now you know.  It's probably kept you up late at night with worry.
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Pesky little bee.  Alright – big bee!
wildlife habitat
The sky was overcast and really threatened rain.  I was happy with that.  There’s nothing like a “gentle” rain while idling down a quiet river.
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I decided to head upstream first today.  There were actually lots of fishing boats present on the water.  That’s fine.  The fishermen on this water really respect their river and treat it with dignity.  They’re from the older generation and are concerned about the well being of “their” river.  I like them to the man.  The neat thing is that their kids think just like them. 
I was delighted to see a beaver gliding up the edge of an island.
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He was very close to the shoreline cover and undercut banks and I only got one shot of him and it wasn’t a very good one.  He just disappeared.  I saw why.  He has a lodge up against the river bank.  Sweet little place he has.
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Go away bee!
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Everybody I come in contact with wants my job.  Ya know – I don’t blame them.  My job takes me to wonderful wild places and it allows me to enjoy those exclusive wildlife habitats while I’m on the job daily.  It’s an amazing job and I’m very thankful for it.  It really is a lifestyle that is precious to me.  If I could hit the lottery for about ten million bucks I’d first buy a mountain with a 500 acre top on it.  I’d clear it off and build the largest dog rescue operation in the world. Each dog would have his own air conditioned apartment with a video camera installed to assure their safety.  A two acre lake would accommodate those dogs preferring water to play in.   It would be well staffed with permanent employees to include several certified veterinarians who would operate a veterinary service on site for the public..  Then I would purchase a 22 foot Pathfinder boat and have it shipped to South America where I would fill it with enough supplies to hold one person for an entire year to include four new Canon cameras equipped with one of each lenses that Canon offers.  Up the Amazon River I would go.  I gotta remember to go buy a lottery ticket tonight.
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This bee has to go.
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Mother goose is secreting her brood back in the tall grass that borders the river.  It’s amazing how well the parents hide their  chicks.
This entry is really all about a certain beaver.  I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph a beaver today that yielded some of the finest pictures I’ve ever taken of a wild critter.  I truly am fortunate to have these opportunities to visit the wild places so frequently.  Anyway – here’s the beaver, and he’s a beauty.
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Not the bee again!  Come on!
The beaver is below:
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I noticed him just cruising along the river bank.  He was not in the least aware of my presence.  I shut the engine off and dropped the silent electric motor.  I kept the boat along side him and travelled at the same speed he was swimming.
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He went behind some logs and brush and didn’t come out.  Ah Ha!  He found something to eat or possibly was on shore.  I carefully edged over toward him.
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He was out of the water and gnawing on a stick about an inch in diameter.  He was rolling the stick with his paws while cutting the bark of it with his teeth.  What a privilege to be able to watch this!
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Go away bee!  Gimme a break!
I’ll place the beaver photos here without comment.  Well – without much comment.
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Look at those little hands and fingers.  He is holding the stick in his mouth with his hands and rolling it forward as he gnaws the bark off it.
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Check out that tail.
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I know there are a lot of pictures here.  I actually threw away over a hundred excellent images of this guy.  Beavers are not easy to photograph like this and the opportunities are rare to do so.  I wanted to take full advantage of the situation. 
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And he was gone.
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 Wow – what a few moments!  That was a privilege. 

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I feel like I’m being followed or, beeing followed.
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This river section is truly exceptional as far as wildlife is concerned.  I hope that it doesn’t become ruined with home construction and human intrusion.  That would be devastating.  Thank heavens that huge farms border both sides of this water.  The farmland is the rivers salvation – for the present.
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What kind of bird it that?  Really – I’m at a total loss.  Oh well -
I finally made it to the bottom of the river where the steam plant is and turned upstream.  A quick check on the bald eagle family was in order.
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Dad was standing guard on his favorite limb while mom was with the kids in the nest.  This is a wonderful sight.  There will be more eagles on the river in another month.
That’s about it for this entry.   I hope you liked the beaver images.  I intend to take the canoe out tomorrow afternoon after I get back from the river. 
Shade and I are planning a camp out on Calderwood next Tuesday and Wednesday so you don’t want to miss that high adventure.  It’s time to ignore the weather and just do it. Thanks for looking in.  Hope you enjoyed it.
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Oh, gimmie a break!