Thursday, June 27, 2013


I'm just sitting here messing on the computer while I wait for the rain to stop.  I was mowing the grass when the sky opened up on me.  I kept on mowing until the grass gobbed up under the mower deck and stalled the mower.  I did notice an amazing change in the yard.

It's the butterfly bushes.  These bushes were just a couple inches high when I planted them in the Spring.  Look at em now.  The amazing thing is that there were no colored blooms on either bush when I left home this morning.  I didn't notice the flowers until I pushed the mower past them.  They are huge, bushy and beautiful.

I'm going to get fifty more of these next Spring and make a fence out of em.  I hope they spread clear across the yard.  Maybe they'll kill this stupid grass and I won't have to mow.  Check out the clematis.  
I planted two of them to see what they would do and look like. They went nuts.  Those tiny, flimsy, wimpy little plants spread very quickly.  I stuck a thin wood stake in the ground beside one and hooked the little piece of wood to the big drift wood limb.  The clematis climbed right up that little stake and attacked the drift wood.  Very pretty.
I do pull the weeds out from around all these flowers three times a week.  The weeds grow back like weeds.  Huh?
 You knew there would have to be an animal in here somewhere.  The frog is just a bonus.

Yesterday was my last day of duty on the lakes for a couple weeks as I'm "supposed" to leave for Pennsylvania on Saturday.  Things aren't looking good for a departure.  The rain has moved in here and has taken up residency.  We had a storm last night that shook this house.  Thunder sounded very early in the morning and it knocked me off the mattress.  I suddenly had three very shook up dogs on top of me.  No problem.  They just needed a hug.  The rain fell in torrents.  It came down extremely hard and fast with what appeared to be no end in sight.  I checked the 5 day weather forecast this  morning and Roanoke, Va, Bristol, Tn and Blowing Rock, Tn (at the Blueridge Parkway) are all scheduled for rain clear through Monday.  Those cities are all on the West side of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the valley.  If they have rain, the Blue Ridge will be experiencing a Noah's Arc event for those days.  Not a good place to be on a motorcycle.  The unfortunate thing is that I have a dog sitter lined up and she's paid already.  I'll have to rearrange the schedule with her I guess.  This is a wet Summer.  I've not seen so much rain since moving down here to Tennessee.  I like foul weather but not when I need to be on the road with the bike.  Oh well.  Is what it is..

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I was on Cherokee Lake this morning and had the opportunity to drive up Poor Valley Creek to it's end.  It's been a rarity this year to be scheduled on Poor Valley Creek and I looked forward to it.  I had seen green herons along the Eastern shoreline a couple years ago and I was excited to get up there for a look.  I have not photographed a green heron this year, although I've seen them as they passed by in flight.  The shot above was taken on Poor Valley at it's uppermost reaches.
And yes, it is overcast.  What else is new?
I'll keep this entry short as I need to get some sleep.  I've been running around like a nut getting things in order before leaving on the bike trip to Pennsylvania.  I had to buy dog feed for the dog sitter's pay, mow the grass, and I worked on the bike big time to make sure it is up to the task.  It's a long way up there via the Blue Ridge Parkway and I checked everything on that motorcycle that I could.  It's ready.  Now, if only the rain will go away.  I will not leave in the rain.  Just will not.
This is green heron territory alright.  There are a lot of blow downs along the shoreline and that's exactly what green herons desire.  They patrol up and down those pieces of sun bleached wood, constantly looking into the water for unsuspecting minnows as they slowly creep along.
There he is being crafty and stealthy.

He moves cautiously and as stealthy as possible slowly raising and lowering each foot with precision.

He is trouble on the move to any tiny critters in the area.  He sees all creatures that moves or has color and he is lightning quick with that spear of a beak he wears on the front of his face.  Green heron's spear fish as well as grab them.  Night herons never spear their prey, preferring to grasp it between their upper and lower beak parts.
There goes the light.  A cloud blocks the light at the most inopportune moment.

The above shots are a bit underexposed due to the overcast situation that just occurred.  Not real bad and I decided to post the shots.
He's a handsome fellow.

He's the first green heron I've photographed this year.  Guess that makes him a celebrity.
I photographed the back of a black crowned night heron to show how the white plumage that appears like a white rubber band, lays against his back.  This piece of plumage will rise from the back of his neck when he's excited and will fall to one side or the other.

 It's so dark back in this cove that I'm amazed these pictures are usable.
The scenery is top notch up at the top end of the creek.  The water is maintaining a depth of around 4 feet, but it can't last.  I turned the boat around after taking the following shots.

The shots appear bright and cheery despite the dismal overcast situation.
One more green heron came into view.
Can you see him?  I would have missed the little guy had I not used binoculars.

That's about if for today and I'll stop this entry here.  Hope you liked Mr. Green Heron

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I have been plagued by overcast days this entire week.  If the light would have been a little bit brighter I could have taken the finest action eagle pictures I have ever taken.
That's hard rain coming over that mountain you see right of center in the shot above.  The wind picked up dramatically and shards of lightning were piercing the air vertically.  That's the up river view.  Below is another storm following the Holston River upstream coming behind me.
These are pop-up storms and they can be severe.  Gotta be careful.  I'll watch both of these little storms closely, especially when lightning is a factor.  The thunder is fairly constant.  Both of these cells appear to be moving very slowly up and down the river so I'll continue on with my tasks.  Rain doesn't bother me at all, but lightning is nothing to fool around with especially when I have an aluminum tower sticking up over my head on the boat.  I just hope if the boat is hit with lightning that it's a direct strike cause I can't afford any hospital stays.
This area I'm in is beaver city.  Those holes you see in the river bank lead to beaver lofts located about twelve feet back in the bank.  The center hole is where I photographed the baby beavers a few weeks ago.
Below is one of the river bank residents.  I photographed him a couple weeks ago also.  I'll just put a few interesting shots of him on here tonight as I gave him a lot of coverage on a previous entry.

I could watch raccoon's for hours.  They are the most curious rascals you ever saw.  This little fella has a particular route that he patrols daily.  He was in the exact same spot last time I saw him.

I drove past Eagle Mountain (my name) and one of the immature bald eagles' was on his tall, dead snag of a tree high up on the mountain.  I didn't photograph him due to the horrible lighting situation.  This is a very overcast afternoon and it's useless to try to photograph him from this rocking boat.  I kept on going without a shot.  I continued down the river and when I looked to my right where the river grass covers the water in acres, I saw an adult bald eagle with his offspring.  Wow!  I've never seen a mother or father out with their offspring - ever!  The adults will drive off the young eventually.  There must be some hunting education going on here.  This is the second immature as I just past by the first one in the snag tree ten minutes ago.  This is where I got really frustrated with available light.  I had to photograph these eagle moments.  I killed the engine and used the electric motor for all boat navigation.  The water was only two feet deep and the engine should be shut down anyway.

I got down on my knees on the floor of the boat and laid the back of my hand on the seat with the camera in my palm.  It's the best I could do.  Look at that - it's as though dad is having a conversation with his son about life.

What a sight.  What a privilege to be able to view these noble creatures!

Here is where I experienced maximum frustration over the low light conditions.  The eagles were setting up to lift off and I normally would have the shutter speeds at a minimum 1/1000th of a second or the preferred setting of 1/1500th of a second, minimum.  Instead I'm at 1/100th of a second.  I have no chance to stop action with those slow speeds.  I may be able to pull of a shot or two but the wings move too fast to stop them  at such a slow shutter speed.  See below:
Dad took off and I got only a fair shot of him as he lifted his wings for the initial power thrust.  After that - the shots are mediocre at best.

The pictures are still treasures to me, but I do like to post the best shots I can on the site.  There will be another time.

Junior watched his dad fly away and didn't take his eyes off him until he landed.  Then Junior took off.

I got his launch into the air, but the shots were blurred.  Now - look at the next four shots carefully.  You will see a tiny bird land on the back of this bald eagle.  He stayed there for at least 20 seconds for the free ride.  He lifted off the eagle's back and landed again and rode between the shoulders of this great bird for another twenty seconds.  If the light was brighter I would have had crystal clear shots of the whole episode, but I could only capture what I did.  Still, it's an amazing few pictures.
Above:  The little bird approaches the eagle.
Above:  He has landed on the eagle's back and will ride there for a good twenty seconds.  Then he lifts off.
Above:  He is on his way back down to land on the eagle's back.  He stayed there for another 20 seconds and lifted off once again.  The pictures were too blurred to use.  Sorry.
And, he was off to join dad who was waiting for him on a huge chunk of wood embedded in the river bottom.

These pictures are sort of emotional.  Here can be seen a father with his son, training him in the skills that will allow him to succeed.  I've never seen eagles participate in this type of venture before, and I've seen a lot of bald eagles.  These shots are of particular value to me.

Then, dad lifted off and I was once again reminded about the insufficient light.
I normally would have ten to twelve shots of this lift off but - you know the story.  Juniors turn was next.  The lift off shots were blurred.  I didn't post any.

I watched junior's head and he never took his eyes off his dad.  Not once until dad landed.  Then he lifted off and flew directly to his dad.
You can tell by his posture that he is going to make the leap into space.  He did and the images, as usual, were blurred.  I left the eagles in peace and headed for the boat ramp.  At least I got some fair shots of father and son today.  I'll be back.