Friday, January 31, 2014


It appears as though the deep freeze is over and the return of tolerable temperatures is on the way.  Although the morning was very cold, noon saw near 40 degree temperatures with sun and tomorrow is to be near 60 degrees.  That's the old Tennessee I remember.
I chugged along on the narrow road that followed the river and kept my eyes open for critters in the fields and trees.  I did see a beautiful skunk scurrying along a field break but it was too dark to take a picture.  
A couple of lonely looking deer were leaving the meadow and entering a wood lot.  I don't know why I keep photographing deer as I have so many average shots.  Just can't resist the temptation I guess.
I saw a blond colored red tail hawk far out in the meadow on a tree limb and zeroed in on him and as I pushed the shutter down, a second hawk flew from the ground to the tree as the shutter closed.  These hawks are normally darker in color but there is a blond or buckskin version.  I've seen this lighter variety up on the Holston River and Beech Creek but never down here in the valley.  No big deal.  Its just a unique sighting for me.
There were many different species of hawks out this morning, the red tail most prominent.  The past week has been absolutely frigid for these parts and food sources have no doubt been thin for hawks.  The much warmer temperatures encountered this morning will bring out all varieties of wildlife and the hawks surely will be filling their stomachs.
I didn't go far before I came upon another red tail.
I was approaching a long section of narrow road that leads to the access point at a place called Nance Ferry where there is a decent parking lot and a concrete boat ramp of sorts.  I pulled over to check some paperwork for the morning and prepared to move on when I saw an eagle dead ahead in the top of a tree.
You would have laughed if you'd have seen me trying to get hold of the camera. 
He was beautiful and he kept turning his head and assuming interesting poses so I posted some of the most interesting ones here.  This spot is about a mile away from the huge nest I found that sits in a wooded area next to a meadow that touches the river bank.  I'll bet he is one of the pair that uses that nest.  This is just a spot of luck to find him posing like this.

The only thing missing is that deep, rich blue sky for a background.  Its getting better though as he isn't back lighted by white or bright gray sky.

I really miss that 500 millimeter telephoto for shots like this.  The eagle is not real close and the 400 millimeter lens I'm using just falls a bit short of what I'd like to achieve at this distance.  The 500 is inoperative and there's nothing I can do about it.

I guess that's enough photos to post of this guy.  Seeing him makes me wonder about the population of all the migrant bald eagles on Douglas Lake.  I'll be on that lake very frequently starting next week.  We'll see what the counts are then.

A very odd thing occurred today, at least it was odd for me.  I noticed threadfin shad floating down the river in large numbers yesterday, and today I was startled to see enormous numbers dead and floating.  I questioned my learned colleagues about it and they set me straight on the issue.  Threadfin shad are susceptible to prolonged frigid water temperatures and the temperatures in the reservoir as well as this tail water have been holding steady at 37 to 38 degrees for the past seven days.  The results is what we call a fish kill and it is a big one.
They have collected dead in this crook in the river and every other crook in the river.  Their reflections from the sun create thousands of shiny, silver sparkles as their bodies stretch across the entire river on their journey downstream.
Theres nothing to be done about it.  Ain't nature amazing?  Bet there will be some hungry bass in Cherokee Lake shortly.  Threadfin shad is the primary food source for black bass as well as many other sport fish.   Is what it is I guess.

That is how the day went.  Tomorrow is an off day and I'm thinking of taking the Gheenoe up to Beech Creek and running the Holston River to see if the trappers left any beaver and otters alive.  Damn trapping!  I'd love to take the canoe but I fear the water current may be faster than I care to deal with.  We'll see how it goes.