Wednesday, May 8, 2013

THE GREAT EGRET - The White Swan of the Lake

No - the bird on the post isn't an egret.  He's a cormorant.
I was cruising Cherokee Lake today and the panoramic views are very different than those on the Holston River.  The Holston is sort of like a rustic old farm where the reservoir reminds me of what a subway would be like.  Analogy 101 wasn't my favorite class.  This is big water and the Holston, being a river, is water that lies in a long, long channel with the shorelines clearly defined.  Cherokee Lake, the stone quarry, is made up of erratic shorelines with uncountable coves and inlets.  The really different aspect of Cherokee Lake is its definite lack of wildlife.  It's an enormous body of water with a shoreline that would reach to Florida and back but it takes days to even find a squirrel.  That speaks loudly to the fact that constantly changing the depth of water in the lake adversely affects wildlife habitat.  There's nothing to be done about it and it is what it is - a stone quarry full of water - sometimes.
I've got to admit that Cherokee Lake is beautiful when the water is at normal level and the boulder strewn shorelines are submerged.  It's like putting a coat of paint on an old rusty car though.  The water will be drawn down again in the Fall and the rusty old heap will show through again.  That being said - I came across the most beautiful little oasis today I ever saw.  It was located on an isolated island on Cherokee.  It was break time and I glided toward one of the islands to put the boat to rest while I ate a sandwich.  That is when I saw the gorgeous little pond.
So, there is a spot on Cherokee that is pristine.



This is a sweet spot.  I'm sure I can find it again but punched it into the GPS just to be sure.  There is no camping junk anywhere and I noticed a definite absence of lake junk.  I could camp here and really enjoy it.  The island is fairly large and the dogs could do what they want and I wouldn't have to worry about them getting lost.


The water feels much colder than the lake and I suspect this pond is fed by a spring.  How great!  It's TVA property and not privately owned so camping is OK.  It's a shame there isn't any wildlife on Cherokee.  That fact dulls any camping experience.  Maybe I just can't find the wildlife hangouts.  I don't know.
Another oddity is that I can't find any wild flowers on this lake.  Surely there are some.  I've got a year to find them.
No, there are no white swans on Cherokee, or any kind of swans.  There is, however, a gorgeous, elegant, white egret that frequents these waters every spring and summer.  It is called the great egret.



The great egrets appear in the spring and disappear in the winter.  Where they go is unknown to me.  They definitely leave the lake area as I can not find any of their rookeries.  They resemble the great blue heron and there actually is a great white heron that resides in Florida.  The great egret nearly was hunted to extinction in the early nineteen hundreds for their plumage.  Notice the tail area where the fluff plumage is located.  The plumage and feathers are of the most delicate in nature and at one time were highly valued for trim on ladies hats and also the collars of elaborate coats.  This bird is federally protected now.


The egrets act and hunt much the same as the great blue heron, standing stationary at the edge of the water and plunging that deadly bill into the water with amazing accuracy to catch fish.  Their true elegance is observed when they take flight.  There's something about those big, white, extended wings that are awe inspiring.

These birds have no predators to keep their numbers in check so they must gather and breed in some other far away area or state where they are predated upon, otherwise their numbers would escalate to unmanageable proportions.



I entered a cove and saw an egret preening his soft, delicate plumage.  I wanted to get pictures of him launching into flight.



And, finally he lifted off the ground with an effortless motion.






Here's another one taking flight.








Isn't that just gorgeous?  Tennessee is blessed with a plethora of diverse wildlife.  I hope we're smart enough to protect it.

I have a day off tomorrow and I have no idea what I'll be into.  I'll just wait until I wake up and decide.  I've got a tremendous urge to buy a Canon D7 camera but have been giving in to the idea I can't afford it.  I'm thinking, when can I afford it?  The answer is probably never.  I'm tempted to just go online to Amazon and do it.  I feel so limited with the equipment I'm currently using.  I'll think about it over a Jameson.  I hope you liked this post and I'll be back, hopefully, tomorrow.  See you then.  And, thanks for your interest.