Wednesday, April 23, 2014

LOONS - A WILDERNESS TREASURE

I just finished shoveling gravel onto the driveway where the gravel truck spilled half the load I ordered early spring.  I have a ways to go but I'm in no hurry.  I'm scheduled for Douglas Lake this morning and 4:30 AM found me at the coffee pot making an extra strong brew so I'd have strength to face the unattractive, muddy shorelines that still encircle the lake.  The lake is still filling and will be about another week until it is at full pool for the summer months.  I was assigned an area where I could use the 22 foot bay boat, which I haven't had on the water in a few months.  I was looking for the opportunity to launch it and today was the day.  It's not good to allow marine equipment of any kind to sit idle.   I was on the water at sun up and heading upstream to Muddy Creek, a tributary that joins the French Broad River in the lake.

I entered dangerous areas into my GPS navigational unit a couple years ago when I started running on this lake.  Below is one of them:
Well, what can I say?  I punch in what's on my mind at the time.  I'm glad I did because I was on a collision course with that big ass rock this morning, two years later.
And just like the GPS says -  Thar she be dead ahead. 

I knew I'd enjoy the morning if for no other reason than I'd be on the bay boat.  I've been driving the aluminum jon boat over the late winter and spring months.  But, the day unwound in some surprising ways.  
 Just what was that over there?  One never knows what  mysteries will be uncovered out here.
 That explains it.
 Wonder how many bodies are inside.  Maybe Jimmy Hoffa.  Na.   Too many years.
It appeared to be stuck to the bottom but I could move it a bit when I pushed on it so the current will take it out in the middle of the lake and  present a navigational hazard.  I called it in for what that is worth.
There wasn't many fishermen on the water for a change and I spent more and more time just scanning the shoreline for photo ops.

The mountains always make a nice back-drop for any lake as long as one (me) can block out the houses on the shoreline from my peripheral vision.
This picture seems over saturated by I didn't mess with it at all.  It's how the camera metered the light.  It's pretty close to what I saw though.  The vivid green reflections in the water bounce green light back to the originating foliage and energize the already rich green color.
I startled a couple of passive ringed bill gulls.  I was sorry to be a bother to them.
Then the wood duck blasted off the shoreline and I took a "hip shot" at him.  Ain't easy with a 500 mm lens on the camera.
 Got super lucky on these two shots.  A lot more shutter speed would have been great.  By the way, I'm using the repaired 500 milometer telephoto today.
Wood ducks are very shy and backward and will lay hidden until they just can't stand the nearness of human intrusion  any longer and they rocket away at light speed into oblivion.  Great birds.

And now I give you the prize of this entry.  The American Loon.  He is in full breeding plumage and this is a rare opportunity to photograph one of these on Douglas Lake or any lake for that matter.




In the summer months he is plain old drab brown.  Nothing to write home about and mistaken for other common birds.   But, when he's got his go to church plumage on he is fit for a king's court.



Great Scott he's gorgeous!  These shots are very rare "for me" to be able to take.  I just don't run onto these incredibly beautiful birds that often. 
 He's preparing to dive, and he does.
 Gone.  Just gone and I can't see where he resurfaced.  Amazing!  But, I got him.
Just a couple more shots that I wasn't going to put up here because they aren't that great of quality.  Then I though what the heck, this ain't National Geographic.  This is just fun.  So, here's a juvenile bald eagle getting beat up by some crows.  The shots are taken at a great distance but still interesting.
 I saw the eagle flying down the shoreline and was lining up the camera on him when a crow actually collided into him in mid air.
 Then the crow swooped down at the eagle as he shadowed the big bird along the edge of the trees.
The smaller bird stayed with the young eagle and a second bird joined in on the harassment.  You can see him arriving on the scene in the second shot below.

 The eagle left the shoreline and climbed for altitude thinking he could lose his tormentors.  Wrong!




 This was getting serious.  These crows can be very happy that this young eagle isn't an adult or the outcome of this would be very different.  The young kid here has a lot to learn.

 The crows broke off the chase when the eagle soared out toward the center of the lake.  I watched him fly away in peace.
Oh, no.   I'm turkey-ed out.  I've seen more turkeys this week than Carter's got liver pills.
 She is a pretty little thing though.
And there ya have the day in a nut shell.  It's back on Douglas Lake for the next two days but in different areas.  We'll see what I can't dig up .  Thanks for looking in.