Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Looks like the bright sunlight is gone for awhile.  The Holston River "below" the John Sevier Reservoir flowed under an overcast sky with drizzle falling.  I love rainy afternoons.  The rain fell straight down and the boat's roof did an admirable job of keeping Shade and me dry.
This is the upper river that flows into Cherokee Lake.  I use the over-flow dam at John Sevier Steam Plant as a reference point for myself to designate "upper river."  Beech Creek and upstream on the Holston River is on the other side of the dam.  That's where I photograph the otters and beavers.  
The light was harsh, and yet bright enough to use the camera when needed.  The river was really pretty this morning with some gorgeous scenery.
The shorelines were in shadow and the great egrets appeared to be 3 dimensional against the dark background.  They were out in great numbers this afternoon.  Like white lights, they illuminated an otherwise gray day.

I watched an egret fishing for awhile and was surprised to see that he caught a minnow with every forward thrust of his neck.  These guys hit the target more times than not.

I zipped past a juvenile Little Blue Heron and only had about ten seconds to photograph him.  The shots were terrible and I'm reluctant to post them.  I'll stick one up here just to give you an idea what I'm talking about.  I'll definitely get some excellent shots next time I'm up this way.  These birds are very uncommon and good pictures are a "must" to get.  It gives me a mission.  There was a barbed wire fence between the bird and me.  
I told you the picture was terrible.  The important things to note are that this bird is about 1/3rd the size of a great egret.  He's a shorty.  The second thing of note is that he has a black tipped beak.  It appears as if he has a black circle around the end of his beak.  And thirdly - he is a heron and not an egret.  He will lose all his white color as he gets older and will adopt a gray/blue plumage.  This is really a fantastic bird and I consider it a "find."  He appears to be just a little bit larger than a black crowned heron.

A great blue heron is drying his wings and cooling off at the same time.  I've not seen this posture in these birds previous to this.

The above dead fish is a walleye.  You're liable to see anything on this blog.  I suspect he is a victim of hook mortality.  That's when anglers either release a caught fish and it dies for whatever associated reason, or possibly the fish broke the line and escaped with the lure in it's mouth and it died of starvation or a bevy of other reasons related to the damage done by the hooks.  He is a very big walleye.  Or, I should say, was..
Great egrets certainly don't blend into their backgrounds very well.  Wonder what evolution had in mind when these birds were created white and so apparent wherever they are.

They command attention wherever they are found.  Their brightness can not be ignored.

Great egrets and great blue herons can often be seen congregating together.  I wonder if they care about the color differences between them.   Great egrets seem to like to stand wherever the river takes a bend.  Maybe it is on the bend that they can see in both directions, up and down the river.
An egret flew very close to the boat and I took advantage of his close proximity.  I wanted to see if I could capture the many positions his wings would assume as he flew past.  The results are below:

Great egrets usually photograph nicely on a dull, overcast day.  The white of their plumage contrasts  greatly to the dark background.  Bright days make the camera adjust to the brightness and the bird's white feathers are not contrasted enough, but blend in with the harsh light.  Soft light is the most superb light of all.

They are surprisingly agile and can change directions instantly.  Those big wings catch a lot of air and he knows how to manipulate them to gain the ultimate affect.  These birds are all feathers with a body weight of 3.5 pounds at the most.  It's all plumage.

He flew across the river and settled against a rock faced cliff near the water.

Is it Fall already?  Did I miss something?

We finally reached the John Sevier "over-fall dam."  We stopped on shore here to talk to a shoreline fisherman and to let Shade roll in something dead.  Whew!  That boat up close to the dam is taking a risk.  If his electric motor were to quit or his engine not start - the under-toe created by the billions of gallons of water plunging into the river would suck their boat directly into the over-fall of water and that would be that.  Definite lack of common sense demonstrated there.
The afternoon was a pleasant one with the light rain from time to time and the quietness of the river, a good dog at one's feet and beautiful surroundings to float a good boat through.  It doesn't get any better than that.