Friday, July 12, 2013

EAGLES AND DRAGONFLIES

All these shots on the entry were taken at low shutter speeds, as usual.  I'm guessing 1/40th to 1/60th for the most of them.  I have no luck with light it seems.  The shots that magnify twice with two clicks may have some slight fuzziness.  Click only once on them and they should be crisp.


Eagles and Dragonflies - Now, there's a combination for ya.  That tall mountainous ridge above is where the bald eagle family resides.  They stay just right of center of the picture on a very old, tall hardwood.  The nest is enormous.  
There was a fishing boat around the corner on Beech Creek but I couldn't get my boat under the bridge.  The water is too high due to the recent day and night deluges. 
Beech Creek is a narrow waterway and it was very muddy, as can be seen in the shot above.  The main river was also stained brown, but not near as colored as the more narrow creeks in the area.
 Clear or muddy - Beech Creek is a very pretty piece of water.
I noticed the March Brown mayflies in the final stage of their lives - the spinner stage.  The females were dipping their tails against the surface over and over again only to drop exhausted to the surface in their death throws.  The would wiggle a bit and then lie still.

In death, they are called spent spinners and are food for fish and the occasional swallow that will swoop down and pluck them from the surface.  It's interesting to note that when these mayflies leave the water after splitting out of their nymph husk - they fly to the trees and bushes and hold to the underside of leaves and foliage.   They undergo one last transformation where their digestive systems change into a reproductive system only.  The insect loses it's ability to eat and becomes strictly a reproductive body.  After mating and laying eggs on the water, they die and appear as photographed above.
Note the two long tails.  The insect has carried out its reason for life.  It has mated, deposited eggs on the surface and finally offers itself up to others who are hungry.  Nothing is wasted and the species goes on.

Yum!  Visions of red raspberry cobbler with ice cream on top.

I heard the eagle before I saw it.  Chirp, chirp, chirp followed by a loud shriek.  He was close.  I kept idling down the shoreline.  Then, I saw him - an immature.
I cranked the big 500 millimeter telephoto open and brought him in close.
I am posting a lot of eagle shots on here as these, yes there are more, eagles are spectacular.  The poses are different so they shouldn't be too boring   When I think of it - how can a bald eagle be boring to look at?







Isn't he magnificent?  All of a sudden there was a loud flurry of wings and guess who landed on an adjacent limb.


The boat was drifting away.  I got busy real fast trying to keep the craft on the exact spot it was on.
The young eagle was chirping away and he was getting answers, but not from his dad.  There was another eagle in the foliage somewhere.  Probably the other parent.


I followed the chirping sounds with the binoculars and noticed a dark, solid form on a tree limb.
It was the second baby.  My heart was happy.  I had not seen little sister for months and feared she had met her demise.  She appears healthy, strong and very powerful. This is an exciting moment.  I've got dad and his two youngsters together - proof that his bloodline will continue on for years into the future.  Lil sister has grown into an impressive bald eagle.  




This is so exciting!  I can't tell you how relieved I am to see this second immature bald eagle.  Look how powerful she is.  Her brother is just slightly smaller than she is.  It's hard to see, but if one looks carefully the difference is slightly noticeable in the immatures.  As they get older the size difference will become even more apparent.  The males are slightly smaller than the ladies.  That's why I'm calling this eagle lil sister.





I haven't seen mom with the youngsters at all.  Dad seems to be the mentor of the kids. These moments with these dynamic birds has been a real privilege   I hope you enjoyed them and, I hope you appreciate their importance in the wild.  It will take them 4 to 5 years to reach maturity and I hope I'm able to follow their lives on the river.
The eagles are a tough act to follow, but here is the dragonfly part of this blog entry.
This dragonfly is a Swift Long Winged Skimmer.  
Dragonflies extend their wings out to the sides whereas damselflies hold their wings slanted back, together and slightly lifted.  Damsels have longer and more slender abdomens too.
Dragonflies eat tiny insects,  aquatic and otherwise.  They are harmless to humans or animals.
These insects are prolific this time or year on the Holston River and Beech Creek.  They often can be seen flying at breakneck speed toward each other and stopping instantly before colliding head-on and hover face to face in mid air.  They also have the capability of flying backward and/or sideways with ease of instant direction change.


Like I said - eagles are a tough act to follow, but these little flyers are no less interesting to observe.  
I noticed this guy while I was loading the boat on the trailer.
He was bright, alert and appeared to be in great shape.  The collar indicates he has a home nearby - probably the farm that sits up on the hill.  This boat ramp is probably his stomping ground.
He sure knows his way around.
The book is closed on another day.  It's been a good one and I hope you enjoyed this entry as much as I did living it.  See ya.