Thursday, October 31, 2013

LOONS RETURN TO THE DEVIL'S BATHTUB

Winter adult common loons are back on the water of Cherokee Lake, and it's good to see their numbers are great.  They can be seen dotting the surface over great spans of water as they rest up, forage and prepare for the coming Winter.  They will eventually depart on their long journeys North as Spring approaches, garbed in elegant, colorful breeding plumage.  They appeared like magic and will depart just as mysteriously.
If you read this blog you'll realize that the bottom of Cherokee Lake is covered with rocks and mountains, of which protrude through the surface to form islands.  When the water is drawn down in the Fall and Winter - even more mountain tops are exposed making boating extremely treacherous.  I have come to call Cherokee Lake a stone quarry full of water.   Two days ago I almost ran the boat onto one of those unmarked mountain tops which would have most certainly resulted in disaster.  Today I discovered a new name for this TVA creation.  I now refer to Cherokee Lake as the Devils Bathtub.

In my eyes, Cherokee is good for only three things.  Those would be fishing, the selling of extravagantly priced lakeside property and pleasure boating, non of which light any fires in my psyche.  
Cherokee Lake, to the multitude of people who live around here, is the wilds.  Even though the shorelines are bare from Fall to Spring, huge pleasure boats tear across the water during the Summer causing the water's surface to be turned into violent froth, constant bass tournaments that unleash hundreds of high horsepower boats on the water to take advantage of the reservoir resource for financial purposes, the lack of wildlife other than deer, vultures, crows and cormorants and the occasional misplaced beaver.
The lake to me amounts to the transfer of interstate travel to water and the mentality that exists on the roadways comes with it.
The ever changing habitat due to water level fluctuation, heavy pleasure boat traffic, tremendous bass boat usage, all coupled with water conditions that experience oxygen content problems at various times of the year and a heavy human habitation on the shorelines eliminate the presence of wildlife.
I guess you could say that my initiation to the waters of Tennessee were on Calderwood, Chilhowee, Santeelah and even Tellico Reservoirs.  All those reservoirs are wildlife friendly and it's possible to go there and view whatever wildlife that is resident to East Tennessee.  Not a chance on Cherokee.  Flood control and electric power are the primary concerns.  Nothing has been set aside for wildlife.  It is what it is.  I'm disappointed in that lack of vision when they sold this part of the state to the highest bidder.  Oh well.

 Oh, there are some gray squirrels on the shoreline.  But, I have them in my attic, and welcome they are.  Oh, he sees me.  He's just letting on he doesn't.  See how he has his head turned ever so slightly where his eye can still watch behind him?
The leaves are finally changing from green to the brilliant colors of Fall.  I did my best to eliminate the ugly, unsightly bare, mud banks of the shorelines from the images.


Below is a mountain top, called an island, that has been covered with silt and shale that covers the boulders and rocks beneath.  It has been exposed by the lowering of the lake and protrudes out of the water further and further each day as the water continues to recede.  It's what I call ugly beauty.
I may sound cynical in this entry but, I assure you I am of sound mind and thankful for the opportunity to live here in Tennessee and to enjoy a position with, what I feel is the most prestigious wildlife organization in the nation.  I just have to do a little travelling to get to the "A" section of East Tennessee.  It's all attitude and attitude is all mental.  Attitudes can be altered and controlled and I'm in good control of mine.  Personalities can not be altered or changed and I'm happy with my personality.  What does that have to do with Cherokee Lake, you ask?  Hell - I'm not sure.  I talked myself into a corner.
 These loons, by the way, are not pushovers for the camera.  They are tough to photograph.  They dive beneath the surface when I approach and resurface a hundred feet away.  All the shots on this blog entry were taken at extreme distances.  Hence, the importance of a long, long lens.
A storm is approaching the lake and it's a bad one I'm told.  The water surface is changing from a mirror finish to a rippled surface.  It's about time to get out of here.
I hope you enjoyed the loons.  Look at them and know that they are precious.  Someday they, as well as most all wildlife, will no longer be on the planet.  It's inevitable.  Oh, it won't be in our lifetime or our children's lifetimes but, their destiny and others like them will someday be no more.  Understand and enjoy them.  They need to be elevated in importance and allotted space (habitat) to sustain themselves. In return they will please and enlighten mankind with their unique individualities and their ability to adapt to adverse conditions.

And with that - I'm outa here.