Sunday, April 6, 2014

AN INTERESTING DAY ON DOUGLAS LAKE - AT LAST

Today was a crazy day, work wise and one of the busiest I have ever put in.  Never have I seen so many fishing boats in one spot since I've been on Douglas Lake or any other lake for that matter.  They are all fishing for crappie, a great eating fish and the crappie are very active this time of year and the fishermen follow the action.  Below is a shot of a really nice blue gill.  In Pennsylvania we tossed them back in the drink and called them a trash fish.  Here, in Tennessee the bluegill is much sought after because they grow large.
I'm not going to dwell on fishing here but its amazing there are enough fish to go around.  There has to be thousands of anglers on the water every weekend after crappie, bluegill and bass.

As you can see I brought Happy with me today.  I knew I wouldn't have time to deal with Shade's new quirk about not wanting to get on boats and besides,  Happy listens very well and is like Velcro on my leg or lap which means I don't have to constantly watch her.  All the women in fishing boats as well as on shore loved happy and gave here a lot of attention which Haps ate it up.

I noticed something moving down the shoreline and couldn't place what it was.
I got fairly close to it and still couldn't figure it out.  

Oh, for goodness sake.  It's a goose.  She is doing what I call the low crawl to maintain a low profile so predators can't see her and follow her back to her eggs or babies.  I saw this on the Holston River last spring.  


I was cruising up a very familiar section of shoreline that would go past the bald eagle hacking tower where immature eagles brought in from other states are released here on Douglas Lake.  I was in the small aluminum boat today and there should be enough water to float on back in the cove that leads to the tower.  
 I always hope to see a bald eagle sitting on top of this tower as there have been many young eagles release here over the years.  I'd think that at least one would return directly to this tower and stay awhile.  How great would that be?!
I have seen lots of bald eagles, both juvenile and adult, perched in very, very close proximity of this tower but never on it - yet.
The sun was very bright today and I started to notice several ospreys perched in trees on the shoreline.  The camera was set to a "landscape" setting and I had the metering switched over to spot metering.  The spot metering would be helpful but the landscape setting was the wrong way to go.   Did I change it?  No!  Am I happy with the pictures of the ospreys?  No!  So, here they are anyway, photographed each and every one with the camera pointing up at the tops of trees and directly into the bright sunlight.  








Its the best I could do under the circumstances.  I should have had a normal camera setting selected with just one click of positive sharp and one negative click of contrast and one positive click of saturation.  The spot metering could have stayed.  If I'd used anything other than spot metering for these birds - they would have been so shadowed they would have been rendered useless.  Harsh, bright back lighting has been my nemesis since I started taking wildlife photographs from a boat.   Its going to be a long summer and there will be many, many osprey opportunities.
Here's a couple more osprey shots.

This osprey is tearing pieces of meat from something and having his mid day meal.  Yes, he's in direct light also.  Bright sun is blasting through the tree behind him.


Ospreys always make a major production out of everything they do.  The simple task of becoming airborne requires aerial acrobatics combined with ear piercing screeches that signify the magnificent event is in progress.





And finally he becomes the Barney Oldfield of the woodland tree tops as he plummets through the tight places where only the daring attempt to fly.


Whew;  can't take much more of that excitement!
Oh yes, that's her spot.  It won't be long until her eggs will be well hidden in a nest lined with her softest under wing plumage.
And then I saw this odd bird.

Was this a turn of some sort?  I should know what this is.

I now carry a small satchel that I keep my stuff in when on the boat and I happen to carry a bird field guide.  To my surprise this bird is a Bonaparte's Gull.  But, they are snow white with a gray cheek circle and a black bill.  Ah Ha - this is a breeding adult Bonaparte's Gull.  This bird is snow white at all times except breeding season.  Isn't that amazing.  Of course, the American Loon is normally a drab brownish gray but changes into a bird with magnificent markings and bands of colors in the winter just prior breeding.  
And, there he goes to join a host of others like him that share the breeding plumage.


Oops, almost forgot about Happy.  She's such a quiet, calm little thing.  No bother at all and really good company.

Well, that's it for the afternoon.  I have one more day on Douglas Lake tomorrow and then I'll get to go back to the Cherokee Tailrace which I'm looking forward to seeing.  Hope you found something interesting on this entry.  I think things will be looking up in the world of wildlife photography soon, and if that photographic company successfully repairs my 500 milometer telephoto lens, I'll be my old photographic self again.  See ya.