Thursday, April 3, 2014



Part 2 Holston River

The storm stopped and I made an instant decision to hitch up the Gheenoe and head for the Holston River up at Rogersville.  Out of nowhere the decision was instantly made.  I watched Shade as I worked at hitching up the boat, plugging in the trailer light, safety chains and making sure everything was tight.  I was going to slip out without her and she knew it.  She absolutely knew I was going without her.
Oh, Chestnut hound is pretty and she is ready to go back inside at my command but, look in the dark doorway, inside the house, watching every move I make.  She normally would be outside with me watching intently as I ready everything to leave but, this morning she is withdrawn and distant.  She knows.

She just sat there, watching me.  I called to her and she ignored me.  Then, I said, "Shade - get in the truck", and she ran to the passenger door.  
We were on our way.  I've never imagined that a dog could adopt these feelings of hurt and rejection to such an elevated extent.  Its heart breaking to see her sit and watch me prepare to leave for work, go to the lake, on the bike or whatever else.  Sometimes it's too hot in the truck or the temperature is too cold for her to be on the boat or a host of other reasons not to take her but, the problem is not being able to explain the issue to her.  She sees it as rejection.  Well, shes with me today and  dogs and wildlife photography do not mix.  So what!
 So, whats with the picture above and why is shade sitting beside the drivers door of the truck?  I launched the Gheenoe and she wouldn't get on board but ran to the truck and sat down where you see her instead.  Nothing could get her to get on the boat.  I threatened to leave her and she simply sat there and watched me pull away from the boat ramp.
I was getting further and further away from the parking lot and she would not budge.  I said, "come on girl - lets go - good girl, come on."  Nothing.  I couldn't take it.  I turned the boat back to shore and went to her and hugged her.  I had a leash in the truck and I put it on her collar and she accompanied me to the Gheenoe and stepped on board just like that.  We pulled away and that was that.  
She was uneasy and not calm and quiet like she always used to be.  She was enduring the boat ride but not enjoying it like she used to .

I think I have a handle on the problem.  I took her to Chilhowee one day and the wind was up blowing four foot swells that broke over the bow of the Gheenoe soaking both of us.  That was the roughest water I ever had that boat in.  Shade was in my lap, behind me on the seat, under my legs on the floor and standing with her feet on my shoulders - terrified.  I was a bit concerned myself that day.  Chilhowee can get might bad fast.  A couple weeks later we ran into a storm on Cherokee Lake while in the 22 foot bay boat and that turned into an ocean adventure.  Again, Shade hugged close to my legs and shivered as if cold.  So, I do believe she is associating the boats to an experience that is not fun.  I don't know at this point but I believe I'm right.  
We weren't on the water five minutes when I saw what I thought was a young beaver crossing Beech Creek heading for the grass and shoreline behind it.
That's no beaver.  What is that thing?
Ah, now I see.  Its a muskrat.  Look at the round tail.  He was swimming fast across the surface and when he got to the shoreline he ran super fast toward some hole he has hidden at the base of the river bank.

This is the very first time I've photographed a muskrat on the Holston.  Actually the shot above is the best of the lot.  I should have enlarged it for the entry.
I went back and enlarged the muskrat shot just a touch. (directly above)

The geese are pairing up for mating now and they are seeking out those rare, hard to find hidden places in the fields adjacent to the river.

A really pretty great blue heron appeared standing on a log.  He was unusually colorful and I put him in the camera.

Mallards were present in great numbers and it is obvious they have already paired and are currently nesting.

 These shots are OK but not really that good.  They document the moment and it was a pretty moment for sure.  The photos that follow these are, however, I think the best I have ever taken of mallards in flight.

This little clutch of mallards were just paddling along near the river bank and the lighting was just right

Mallards are beautiful and one of my favorite ducks, wood ducks being my number one favorite. They spooked and took flight together.
They left the water and flew straight up into the air under rocket propulsion.  It seemed they stopped together at a predetermined height and blasted forward together, bending around brush and tree limbs at break neck speed.  The following shots were not accomplished with shotgunning 7 frames per second or the like.  I focused each shot and panned with the birds as they flew across the landscape.  
The shot above shows them as they just start their forward full speed getaway.

And it just so happens that the boat was nearing the eagles nest located high on the mountain side.  
 Wood ducks flush from behind us.

 The female bald eagle is setting in the nest with her babies.
There is not much I can do with these eagles due to their great distance from the water.  The documentation has been gathered however, and that is whats important.

 I saw the splashing from clear across the river and thought it might be otters but was amazed to find Heckle and Jeckle here.
 I've not a clue about them and am not getting involved.

 The muskrat is so much smaller than the beaver or the otter that he is a relatively easy identification.

I had some more shots but its late and I think its time to wind this entry down.  I got carried away with all the interesting wildlife I saw today - quite the opposite of Douglas and Cherokee Lakes.
We turned the Gheenoe around and headed back to the boat ramp which was about 20 minutes away. 
We floated back up Beech Creek and touched down on the shoreline where Shade bounded out and ran up to the truck and sat beside the locked door and waited for me.  What's with that dog?  Whatever it is I'll use tenderness and desecration to figure it out with her.  Hope you liked this entry and I'll be taking day trips to all my favorite rivers and lakes throughout the summer and I haven't forgotten about the lake camp out - maybe on the 10th and 11th of this month.  We'll see.  Have a great night and thanks for your interest.