Monday, June 24, 2013

A HOT DAY ON THE LAKE


It's 7 AM and it's exceptionally warm on the water.  I think it's the humidity making me think it's hotter than it really is.  The morning appears to be overcast with a grayness preventing the sun to shine through, but it's not stopping the heat.  There isn't much happening on the water today as there is only one boat trailer in the parking lot.  I think the anglers know that today's going to be a scorcher as the thermometer is already approaching 85 degrees.  The only bird I see is one mallard duck and he looks like he's ready to get in the shade someplace.
About 50 geese are hanging on the shoreline near the water where the sun's heat has not intensified yet.  They'll probably head into the water and seek the coolness of the undercut, shaded river bank before long.




The heat intensifies as the morning progresses.  The little thermometer on my fabric food cooler reads 89 degrees.  Whew!  No wonder I don't see any critters out this morning.
I was able to snap a couple shots of a couple ducks who were hanging out back in the shade of an overhanging tree.  As usual - it's too dark for good shutter speeds.
You may notice a tiny difference in brightness between the two shots.  I adjusted the contrast on the camera a click to the bright side to compensate for the dark surroundings and corresponding slow shutter speed.  Getten tricky here.



I've never seen the water so void of wildlife.  All the critters are definitely in the shade or back in the water grass laying low and close to the water.  I don't blame them.  I'm wearing a long sleeve cotton uniform shirt that I call canvas to keep the sun off my arms.  I don't like putting on sun blocker.  Normally I'm comfortable with that shirt throughout the Summer.  This morning is causing me to rethink my preference of clothing.  I have short sleeve shirts, but as I said - I have a thing about spreading chemicals on my skin for hours and hours -- unless it's tick and chigger repellent. 
It's been an hour since I snapped a picture of anything.  If I see any bird flutter I'll click my shutter.  Not bad, huh?
Ah ha.  Here's something to take a practice shot or two of.  Low light, contrast one click brighter, 1/10th of a second faster shutter speed selected over the light meter's recommendation and click a click a click.
You'll notice some blur in these shots because no matter what I tried - I couldn't get a decent shutter speed.  This 500mm lens is just too slow.  That's the downfall of a commercial grade lens.  They are slow (require more light) than a professional lens.  There's nothing to be done about it.  Sucks!

 And, one last click as the big heron heads for parts unknown.
Now, this lady knows how to beat the heat.
That cow is foraging on the river grasses that she is enveloped in.  They must be tender and sweet.  The other cows in the field act disinterested.  
I have put forth a lot of effort to try and find otters on this section of the Holston.  As I have stated before - I've had the pleasure of watching them almost every day back in October and January.  Then, after trapping season, I haven't seen even one.  All those little fellows I delighted in watching and photographing have been killed.  Harvested is the politically correct word to use, but I prefer to call it like it is.  They were killed, skinned, their bodies thrown on a land fill or worse and their pelts turned in for a bounty.  Shame, shame, shame on humanity for that mindset.  I'll not go into the trapping thing here, but it's coming.  Someone ought to get some otter seeds and plant some more in here because I think the otters I came to enjoy were over "harvested."  OK - I'll drop it.  But the article is coming soon.
If you are a canoeist or a Ki - "Yakker", you definitely have to visit this water at some point in the Summer while the lush, thick, green river grasses are prevalent.  You will enjoy paddling down the narrow waterways that cut through the large bodies of river grasses located down at the John Sevier Steam Plant bay.  It's an amazing experience.  The grass is intensely thick and full of wildlife that can be approached, if your quiet.  On the banks of the upper river section the grass grows out from the shorelines from 10 to 30 feet and there are very, very narrow channels leading from the main river through the grass to beaver lodges that can't be seen from the main water.  Sometimes you have to back out of the dead end channel as the grass is too thick to turn a canoe around and paddle.  I just get up and move to the opposite end of the boat and paddle on out.  Not sure how a kayak would handle it.  Notice the waterway cutting through the grass in the shot below.
That open water narrows down as one proceeds into the grass and the boat can be taken either up or down stream way back by the trees.  This picture is only a tiny section of about ten acres of grass on that side of the river.  The water depth varies from three feet to nothing - one to two feet being the normal.  It's a really nice paddling adventure back in there.
A quick drive by the eagle's snag showed junior perched in his usual spot.  His sibling wasn't present.  Dad was nearby though.


It's hard to believe he is just a baby.  Actually, immature is the proper term.  He is already as large as his parents are and will get no larger.  This fellow and his sibling will soon be driven off by both parents.  It's natures way.  Eventually, in about four years, each will seek out mates and help perpetuate the linage.  They may move to and stay within two or three miles of their birth tree or, if no mate can be found, will move further and further away until contact with a potential mate is made.  They could eventually leave this area entirely and not return.  Such a sad farewell!
The mountains are taking on that dark blue color that indicates rain.  My time here today is over and I need to leave.  The bottom of the lake at the steam plant has turned white.  The rain has arrived on the river.  That's one rain I wouldn't have minded getting caught in.

I have the Kawasaki bike all set to go on the trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Pennsylvania, almost.  I discovered tonight while washing it that the front brake pads need replaced.  That's no big deal.  It's a bigger deal driving to Sevierville in the truck to buy them.  I despise Severeville.  I'll think about writing the trapping article while rambling over the Blue Ridge Mountains and I may just pull over under a tree and write it along the road.  I can think when I'm on two wheels.  It's a lot like being on the lake alone on a boat or canoe.  The mind settles down and processes thought more precisely.  Imagine that.  I'll be back up on the Holston tomorrow afternoon so maybe a critter or two will show.  See ya then.