Thursday, July 25, 2013

GHEENOE RIDE TO THE FLOOD PLAIN

I hitched the Gheenoe to the truck and slowly pulled off down the driveway.  I wanted to drive from Walter’s Bridge to the flood pain at Rankin.  There was absolutely no chance of rain in the forecast for today, or tomorrow for that matter.  Of course, I forgot to get the binoculars out of the state truck.  I didn’t realize I had forgotten them until I got to the lake.  Binoculars are an essential to find wildlife.
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The morning was especially beautiful.  The sun was high and the temperatures were in the upper seventies.  Perfect for a ride on the lake.
I wanted to see if I could locate a bald eagle or two, which I didn’t, and to just drive over one of my favorite stretches of water in this area. 
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Great egrets were along the river and they were hunting.  I picked one out and watched him.  The engine was switched off and I just let the boat sit.  The current was very slow and the Gheenoe stayed where I stopped it.
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The water had receded since the last time I was up this way,  as a large portion of the flood plain was dry land now.
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He barely moved.  Then, all of a sudden his head flashed forward and splashed into the water.  The move was very fast and his efforts enthusiastic.  The entire front end of the egret was thrust under water in an attempt to catch the minnow.
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He missed his chance and came up empty.
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He prepared himself again for a second attack on the minnows.  Again he plunged himself into the water and again he came up empty.
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Survival requires a lot of work and success isn’t guaranteed.  This egret gets an “A” for trying  though.
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Finally, disgusted and disappointed, he flew off to find a new spot where the fishing was perhaps better.
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I ran the Gheenoe close to the shoreline and kept watch for any movements there.  How I missed my binoculars!
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Great egrets are beautiful birds.  I set the camera on spot metering to try to avoid overexposing the egret’s white plumage.  Look at the little heron standing behind the great egret.  I never saw him there until I downloaded these pictures from the camera.  What ya don't see!  As a matter of fact I'm not really sure what that little guy is.
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The water is only 3 feet deep near the shore.  This is easy running for the Gheenoe.  That boat is right at home in a foot of water. 
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I’m surprised there aren’t more birds out today.  Egrets, cormorants and ospreys are about the only wildlife I could find.
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A prothonotary warbler was flitting about in the lower limbs of a tree that stood close to the water on the shoreline.  The spot he was located in was shaded heavily and good pictures would be a challenge.  I gave it a shot.
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These warblers don’t stay still for long and I had to take the shots at a low shutter speed, as usual.  I could only get a very few respectable pictures suitable for posting on the blog.
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I was getting close to the cormorant rookery at Rankin and these cormorants sitting on the old snags in the river sort of marked the rookery spot.
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This is the largest cormorant rookery I’ve seen yet.  There is another very large rookery on Cherokee Lake, but this one is huge.
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I noticed a very light colored double crested cormorant on a limb.  I believe he is a young bird.  It may be that he is a strain apart from the rest.  Don’t know.
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I could hear the ospreys chirping and screeching, but couldn’t see them.  Their nest was empty.
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I couldn’t see them because they were in the sky.
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This is the osprey nest located on top of the old railroad bridge that I included in the little clip at the start of this post.
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The osprey, above,  is watching over his nest from an adjacent tree.
It was getting close to noon time and I needed to get back home and get on the motorcycle for a ride over to Maryville to visit a few old friends.  I really wanted to photograph some lake critters, but they weren’t cooperating today.   Tomorrow is another day.