Friday, August 9, 2013


This river is so rich in habitat and wildlife that I am in constant anticipation of experiencing a new wildlife experience every time I come here.  I know where and how to look for wildlife and I usually find it.  It usually doesn't take long to find it either.  This river habitat is one of East Tennessee's magic treasures.  And today and the next are to be extremely overcast.  Great!
The above simple picture is one of my favorite photographs of all time.  It's colorful and I think beautifully represents nature's ability to challenge the artistic skills of all the Rembrandt s from the past in their searches for perfection.  Oh, the bird is a belted kingfisher.
This is only the beginning of August and the river banks are alive with color.  I started my job on this river last Winter, thereby missing the Autumn colors.  I can't wait to watch as Fall starts to overtake Summer and adds it's vibrant colors to the shorelines.

There is mystery and natural oddities everywhere one looks.  These sights create questions that demand investigation as to the whys or how-comes, and starts the curiosity part of the brain to work overtime.
There are endless things to discover and investigate - some large and some small to tiny, but all invite intense study and research in order to gain a more thorough understanding of the natural world.
 Whether one is interested in plants or animals - this part of the river offers it all.  It truly is a magic place and a magic place requires a magic bird to fly over it.

He is master of all he surveys - feared by many and yet, represents all that is wild on this river.

His magnificence is unchallenged, and surely, when he is no more, he will perch on the right shoulder of God.

A green heron stands perfectly still while deciding whether to start his morning search for food upstream or downstream.  It's a big decision - for him.  Valuable energy can not be wasted searching in the wrong direction.

The search for food can go on all night for some denizens of the river.  For others the unending foraging for food starts in the morning, stops during the heat of day and commences again in the late afternoon until dark and sometimes beyond.  I suspect the hunt for something to fill his stomach just started this late afternoon hour.

His tiny hands are thrust into every hole in the river bank and into the soft mud on shore to feel for crustaceans  grubs and salamanders.  He can feel his food items with the sensitive nerve endings on the tips of his fingers that nature equipped him with for that exact purpose.

He is ever vigilant of his surroundings and any quick movement catches his eyes. The observer must remain perfectly still or he will see the movement and become alarmed. The idea is to observe the critter doing what he does naturally.  If alarmed, they will obviously act differently and the purpose is to not place any stress on them in the slightest, if possible.

He knows I'm there but continues about his routine as he doesn't view the big white floating mass a danger.  It's floating along with the current as does everything else on the river.  But, he's keeping his eyes on the boat for sure.

He continued to thrust his paws into the mud and squeeze his little fingers against his palms trying to find some morsel of food, all the while watching the big white boat.

He's watching me closely but, shows no real fear or alarm.  He seems to project the look of amazement and confusion.  He's not worried as can be seen by the shots below.  He's got time for a scratch and could care less about the floating boat in front of him.

I left the boat float slowly away from him.  To him it was just a large piece of white wood floating past on its way down the river.  The scenes above were taken on Thursday.  I left the river shortly after these pictures and returned on Friday, today.  The entry continues.

I mentioned in an earlier entry that I would try to frighten this beaver in order to instill the fear of man in him.  He seems to be content to ignore everything around him.  Passing boats have no effect on him.  He lays out on the river bank in front of his den opening and eats the sweet, tender stalks of river grass and seems to be in utopia.  He will certainly meet his demise if he doesn't wise up.  It's up to me, unfortunately, to make him fear man.

I pulled the bow of the boat up until it touched the mud directly in front of him.  I yelled loudly an blew the horn and he acted detached and like he didn't really feel threatened.  This was getting frustrating.

It's a real privilege to be allowed to get this close to a wild creature, and to watch and adore it, and a shame to have to frighten it and chase it away.  It's absolutely nuts to have to teach it to fear man, to run away and hide and to be elusive when man and his clankey, loud machinery comes near.  The real shame is that there are members of mankind who would test their aim on him or set traps to capture and kill him.  That is the real shame.  I've searched for him over a period of months and now that I found him, I must chase him away.  The human element and the wilderness were never meant to coexist in harmony.  Humans are control freaks and can not and will not ever interact with wildlife without causing them great harm.  So, run away little friend and beware.
I almost hope I never see him again.

He finally, quickly slides into the water and is away, but not before grabbing his favorite, sweet, succulent stalk of river grass before leaving.
I thought more about his eyes that appear to have cataracts over them.  I still think the light coloration on his eyes are the transparent shields that he pulls over his eyes when swimming.  Only thing is that he isn't swimming when I see the foggy looking eyes.  I hope he doesn't have a problem.  

A flock of blue winged teal blasted out of the river grass.

I told you this river was magic.
He still sits in his tree high up on the mountain side looking down at the lake and looking for opportunity.

 "Mom, Oh Mom - Are we there yet mom?

I passed under a tree limb on the way back to the boat ramp and a tiny, little guy was clinging tightly to a branch, scared out of his wits when he looked down and saw a white monster nosily moving upstream under his tree.
He is a juvenile black crowned night heron - the youngest I've ever come across.  This little guy  is maybe one week old.  You've seen the adults on this blog many times and it's hard to think that this little scraggly guy will transform into that gorgeous wading bird when he gets older.  

It's time to leave this magic water, and I really mean magic water.  I've not been on any river or lake that contains the animal diversity as this section of the Holston River.  It truly is a treasure.  I wonder how many people realize that, or even care.
I did see the otters today but they remained far, far away.  I counted them and there are six total.  I hope they stay near where I saw them as both shorelines are private property and off limits to trappers.  Trappers - there's that word again.  One last critter to post here.  

The above critter is not the critter I had in mind.  The final critter of the day is below:
 And yes - those are peeps with the adults.

Dats all folks!