Thursday, June 20, 2013

CHEROKEE LAKE and a few thoughts

I have to admit that I enjoy Cherokee Lake in the mornings.  It's a time when there are few boats on the water and I can savor that special, early morning breeze that only can occur when blowing unimpeded across water.  I've not seen mornings or evenings more beautiful than Tennessee offers in any other state in this country, especially when those times occur over water.
I've got the next three days off and I plan to use them to best advantage.  Tomorrow, I intend to take the Gheenoe to the river end of Douglas Lake and see if I can't photograph some green herons.  They are scarce on Cherokee and I know of a green heron cove where they were prolific last year.  I also want to check on a bald eagle nest down river on the reservoir.  That should take up most of the morning.  Saturday will be a canoe day at the Rankin flood plain.  I'll take the Attikamek (kevlar boat) through the trees on the flood plain in search of black crowned night heron nests.  Actually it's just an excuse to take the canoe out for a paddle.

I've been getting the bike ready for a trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway and points North ending in my old stomping grounds in Pennsylvania.  I finished all the prep things on the bike last night.  All that remains is a fresh oil change and to hit the road.  Departure will occur end of next week.  I don't know what day as I'm not a planner.  I'd like to run the Blue Ridge at night, or a good part of it.   There's a lot of peace to be had alone at night on a motorcycle.  The speed drops to around 40 mph and I like to just relax on the seat, loosen the grip on the handlebars and let the engine idle me on up the road over the endless mountains.  I'm looking forward to it.  I miss my good friends back home and can't wait to get with them.

I woke up this morning feeling tired and a bit nauseated.  That's odd for me.  Last night while working on the motorcycle, I felt something crawling up the back of my neck.  I felt around back there and touched something soft.  It was a spider and the thing bit me on the neck.  I brushed it off but couldn't locate it on the floor.  The bite didn't hurt but became itchy after a while.  I'm not sure if that had anything to do with the nauseated feelings early this morning or not, but the spider thing was the first thing I thought of.
The photos in this entry are all over the place without continuity.  They're just there to look at.  The big bay areas of Cherokee are just that - big.  The islands have the best habitat for critters, but not many can reach them out in the middle of the lake.  Sometimes the odd critter will appear, but it's not often.  

Ospreys are reliable though.  The osprey above is the osprey from hell that attacked me the other day.  She's calm and quiet today for some reason.  I really believe she is sitting on eggs.  Today, she won't leave the nest to fly away or for any other reason.  I'll keep my eye on her.

 Ya just can't beat a duck standing on an old snag in the water for a pretty photo.

I wonder how these trumpet flowers got way out here to this island.  The bushes are enormous and they have run vines up into the trees.  Just gorgeous!
Here's an old friend.  A green heron is hunting through the underbrush at the water's edge.  He's a professional hit man - or person - or bird.
He is the first green heron I've photographed this year.  The little guy didn't give me much to work with.  Such is the way of wildlife photography.
And, look at the shot above.  I go for years searching diligently for these black crowned night herons and all of a sudden they appear as mosquitoes do.  Here's three together on one limb.  Amazing!  They normally are a solitary bird and hunt primarily at night.  It don't figure!

This great egret appeared in a picturesque scene.  Something caught his eye in the bush in front of him.  He started to move very slowly toward it.

He reached in quickly and grabbed some small critter of a branch.  I missed the shot.  It's dark back in here and, as usual, couldn't achieve fast enough shutter speeds to catch the action.  A great blue heron caught my eye and when I looked over at him I saw another black crowned night heron.  He's standing behind the great blue.  Those things are everywhere here on cherokee.  There must be a big nesting island near here.  Wish I could find it.
And there's yet another one.  It's getting humorous. 

I thought I'd throw a land critter in here.  Hey - he made himself available so I took the shot.  Cute little fella.

Shade needed a couple minutes land time and a swim to cool off.  The sun was really cranking up some serious heat and she was hanging out in the shade of the roof on the boat, but she needed water.  The breeze blowing over her wet fur would feel good to her when we got going again.

She paused and waited for me in the above shots - then went straight for the lake an laid down in the water.  What a sweet, sweet friend!  Every time Shade comes out of the water she flops down and rolls around on whatever happens to be there to roll on. I guess it's her attempt to dry off.  In this case it's dirt.  There isn't any grass on the shoreline for her to dry on.  Dirt equals mud when wet.  I don't care.  It doesn't matter as long as he's having a good time.  It will all wash off on the next swim.

There is one very happy dog!  She comes alive out here.  Her face lights up and she becomes totally aware of her surroundings.  It's a shame I can't take her and the other dogs to woods and meadows like I used to do back West of here.  There is simply nowhere to take them - off the leash.  Dogs need "wander space."  Dogs like Shade are searchers, investigators and discoverers.  I do what I can for them.

Oh no not another one!  I'm beginning to cringe at the sight of black crowned night herons.  However, the camera comes to my face as if it has a mind of it's own.  I can't resist taking yet another photo to add to the already countless photos I have collected of them.  The impulse to photograph them is irresistible.  They are an addiction.  Good grief!
Shot below:  I have the only photograph of a black crowned night heron defecating.  This is a National Geographic moment - a treasure in wildlife photography.   I could get a Pulitzer for this shot. 

I actually took the photos of the heron above yesterday.  Thought they would fit in right about here.  Oh well - that's it for another entry.  I'm sure I'll stumble onto something of interest over the next three days.

 Soon I'll be off for the blue ridge mountains on the motorcycle and the scenery will be mountains.  I'm sure you'll appreciate the change.  I'll worry about Shade when I'm gone.  She has woven her existence into mine to an extent I did not think possible.   I wonder how she'll act when I'm not there at night time to give her that squeeze before she settles down to sleep.  It goes on every night.  She sits next to the mattress near my head and waits for me to embrace her with a squeeze.  Happens every night.  Then, in the morning she is a shadow until I leave.  Douglas never was that way.  He was more his own man.  He attached himself to me, but he never gave me his entire self.  He held part of himself back to exclaim his uniqueness.  Shade is very different.  When I left for PA four years ago, the person keeping Douglas for me called and told me that Douglas laid in the yard by the fence gate staring at the parking lot day and night.  He wouldn't eat either.   He was waiting for me to come back.  I actually came home early because of it.  I can only imagine how Shade will act.  That same person will be sitting Shade for me.  I'll come back early for her if necessary.  I also have intertwined my life with hers and I'll not forsake her for any reason.  OK - that's it.  We'll see what the morrow brings.   Later.