Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A WINTER STORM COMES, THEY SAY

Its not hard to predict bad weather if one is connected to the natural things and takes the time to observe the "differences" in the normal activities of critters.  For instance the bald eagles are deep within their nests at noon when they normally are out hunting along the river.  Today the wind is up and snow is predicted to sweep into East Tennessee late this afternoon.
All that can be seen is one head just above the top edge of the nest but, they both are inside huddled close together for warmth.
The high sides combined with the deep cavernous open space within afford protection from the icy wind of winter as well as the heat of spring.  They have taken refuge here very early in the day or, perhaps have not yet left the nest today.
A drive along the river proved that yet another fish kill had occurred.  Dead threadfin shad were once again floating down the Holston verifying that the water had reached a cold temperature where the shad could not exist.  The water temperature was 37.5 degrees.  That is indeed an unprecedented cold temperature.
The quantity of shad that have been killed over the past week in Cherokee Dam  has to be in the millions.  Their silver bodies lined both sides of the tailrace and in some places on the shoreline were piled very high.  Its just how things are.
I watched the water upstream and down for any oddities and I did see some tiny warbler type birds pecking on dead shad.  I've never heard of this and seems to be an indicator that food is very scarce this winter, probably due to this extended freeze that holds Tennessee in it's grips.
These tiny birds would jump down upon a dead shad and peck at it a bit, lifting some tiny morsel off the carcass and fly away.  Shad can be seen in the photo above and again below.
Wildlife is beautiful but it endures a harsh life and nature offers few second chances  for misjudgment.
 Doves moved endlessly scratching the snow and leaves away from the raw earth in hopes of finding a seed or some small morsel of sustenance.
And somewhere back in the thick of the wood the cardinals are calling, their sound and bright colors announcing their appearance on the snowy stage, but just barely.



Snow was falling in earnest and I've had just about all I want of driving on these back roads this afternoon.  Just a few more shots and I'm out of here.
The girls greeted me at the door and I let them run outside while I made a couple hot dogs for myself.  If I hurried I could woof them down before the vile, viscous, greedy canines from the dark side arrive back at the house.  No luck.  I got one bite and they moved in for the kill.
Notice the seriousness on their faces - the strategic positioning of each just under the delicious smelling hot dogs..  They are waiting until I shift my eyes away for a brief moment  allowing one or both to make a pass on the two hot dogs above them on the table.  I tossed a squeaky ball down the stairs knowing Happy would fall for that old trick.  She promptly followed the ball down the steps but crafty Shade would not be fooled.
I watched as she slowly and almost imperceptibly edged ever closer to the delicious, aromatic hot dogs that were so very close.  Her face took on the most serious look, begging, pleading for just one taste - a mere morsel of insignificant size - anything at all.
Its tough being the alpha in this house as its very hard to say no to these girls when they want to taste something other than the daily boring fare.  I had to give in.  She was watching every move I made, her eyes riveted to mine - waiting for that special half second to strike out and grab the tasty tidbit.  With a smile on my lips I slightly turned my head to the right knowing she would think I wouldn't see through her well laid out plan, and in a flash she claimed her prize and disappeared down the stairs - and I laughed so hard I cried real tears.