Saturday, August 3, 2013


I guess it’s apparent that I get excited over beavers and otters.  I’ve gone my entire life without being able to see these delightful entities and here I am surrounded by the most diverse habitat in this country and it’s chock full of wildlife including beavers and otters.  It’s a really neat thing to be able to get on the river and go directly to whatever critter I want to see.  In my case, I can go see individual animals – I know the water that well.  I can find a beaver instantly, or a bald eagle.  I even can find an immature bald eagle whenever I want.  All these animals have special hangouts and/or nests and dens.  I’ve marked them all on my GPS, not that I really need to, but I just don’t want to take any chances of losing my bearings with them.  These special animals are to me as nectar is to a honey bee.  I’m infatuated by them all.
I found my beaver friend this morning and I thought I would try to video him with my small camera.  He was foraging on shore for his favorite stalks of greenery.  He would go up to the top of the river bank, cut off two or three stalks of his favorite vegetable and return to the edge of the water to chomp on it.  Turn up the volume and you can hear his teeth cutting through the thick stalk of his preferred plant.  It’s the rapid chunking sound you will hear.  I wish my 50D Canon had video, but sadly it doesn’t.  I can only imagine what a video through the 500 millimeter lens would be like. Wow!  Here’s the video.  It can be seen on U Tube by clicking on the U Tube block on the video box or just view it here.  Oh - watch what happens at the end of the video. 
Sounds of eating
Marlin Perkins got nothing on me.  All I need is a "Jim" along with me to jump out of the boat into the water and wrestle beavers and otters while I narrate the action from the safety of the deck.
This is Miss Bright.  She appears at the same spot and the same time every day.  I can set my watch by her.
 Just The Two Of Us
I was cruising up my normal path along the river bank and I saw the fat beaver that I've photographed so often.  This is the fellow I took the video of.

The sun was certainly not a problem today.  That 500 mm lens is awesome when it gets all the light it wants.

He turned in the water to face me, took a long look and went about his business.

Now, just where's he going

He knows exactly where he's going.  He's going shopping.
Look at that tail.  I'm amazed by that thing.  Wish I could touch it.

He uses this pathway up the river bank daily by the looks of his trail.

I could hear him cutting off thick plants and watched the tops of the plants moving and then one would fall over. Then another would fall.  Mr. Beaver then trundled down from the river bank and back into the water.  I couldn't photograph his return as he stayed in the thick grass.  I did photograph him eating through the  tall stalks of river grass.  I checked on him later when I returned down stream and he was still eating.  Funny boy..

I noticed his eyes appeared to have cataracts forming on them and I wondered if this was the reason he wasn't as afraid of me as he should be.  Beavers have a membrane that floats up over their eyes to protect them from damage while swimming.  Wonder if otters have that also.  I'd guess they do.

He slowly cruised down stream against the river bank.  I waited until he proceeded far enough away and continued up stream as far as I could go until I lost depth and turned around for a downstream run.
I came upon two fellows who paddled kayaks all the way down here from Surgoinsville which is a long, long way up stream.  They had a truck parked at the Beech Creek ramp for their pick up.  I saw fishing rods sticking out of the kayaks and that's all I needed to strike up a conversation. They were really terrific guys to talk to as we all had a lot in common.  It made me want to go home and get my canoe out.  I do need to do that soon.

I swung past the bald eagles to see if they were home.  Only one could be seen.  It doesn't seem to matter what kind of light exists - bald eagles are always in the worse possible position to photograph.  I got him though.

 How magnificent, magisterial and regal he is!   Wow!
  That big ole lens is working like it's supposed to - I hoped.
A beaver passed this way.  What else is new?
 I met and talked to every single angler on this section of the river and decided to swing by the beaver to see if he was still out.  I named him Heathcliff.  And, he was still chomping on the greenery.

Heathcliff has one fault.  He's allowing himself to be seen by anyone who pays close attention to the shorelines. I'm thankful for the opportunity he has afforded me to photograph him, but it's not safe for him to be so visible. There are many human miscreants who would do him harm just for the sake of doing it.

There are also those who would mark his lair and try to trap him during the ridiculous trapping season.

All he's doing is minding his business and getting on with his life, bothering no one or anything.  He just wants his space for life.  He's non threatening to anything anywhere and innocent of ill doing.  Yet, there is a bounty on him.  What a backward, archaic way of thinking so called sportsmen have.  

And so - this will be the last time I photograph Heathcliff. The next time I see him I will run at high speed directly toward him to frighten him.  The boat has a horn on it also.  I believe I will bring my boat, the Gheenoe, up here this or next week and if I see him, I'll pull close and fire my pistol a couple times near him and yell loudly at him. Heathcliff  has to learn to fear man and hide when they're near.  If he continues to allow himself to stay in the open - he will be killed.  It's that simple.  It's a damn shame to have to act that way to save an animals life.  I, we should be quiet and unassuming around them and seek to enjoy every minute near them we can.  Like I stated before in another entry - when humans are in the wild places, they should put their hands in their pockets and keep them there.  

I hope you liked this entry.  It's kind of special to me....How many people can listen to a beaver eating. Marlin Perkins don't have that on film..