Friday, April 11, 2014

RED BUDS AND KINGFISHERS

I knew I either had to drive to Chilhowee Lake or the Holston River at Beech Creek this morning as I was getting in one of my depressing moods over the lack of mountains, forests and water ways that aren't ruined by the hand of man or influenced in some very negative way by greed, private ownership or just neglect. This entire area clear to the mountains east and north is nothing but pasture and cows - period.   I've not experienced any disappointment concerning the forest, wilderness, water or wildlife experiences in East Tennessee when I lived west of Sevierville in Greenback.  Since I've moved East of Sevierville to Douglas and Cherokee Lakes I've had feelings of disgust and disappointment almost on a daily basis concerning the lack of true meaningful opportunities to enjoy outdoor exploration.  If ya like to fish for bass, then this is your place.  It's all about bass around here and any wildlife that eats bass is condemned to a painful, slow, torturous death.  So, when I start to feel the "what am I doin here's", I head for Chilhowee Lake, Calderwood Lake or the Holston River to get my wildlife and wild places fix.  Today I went to the Holston River with the Gheenoe.
The shoreline was covered with red buds.   They were everywhere I looked.  This river section is amazing for it's natural beauty.  
The ride down Beech Creek was a treat that I never tire of.  It was a tough decision whether to turn left or right where Beech Creek intercepted the Holston River.
Above is the left turn onto the Holston and below the right.
I always act like its a big decision which way to go but I already know I'm turning to the right.  I always do.
If you look closely you'll see an opening in the foliage where a beaver continually travels to get to his den.  This is what gives him away to the trappers.  It's a shame beavers can't adapt to underwater travel when they near home at the end of their foraging.  
The red bud trees were everywhere brightening up the scenes in a spectacular fashion.  There aren't any of these on Cherokee or Douglas Lakes.  A shame.
 I found two newer beaver dams today.  This one is located just off the main river and I'm sorry to say is very easy to see.  I doubt even river grass will hide it well enough.
Just look at the pond he has created behind the dam.  This wet land will foster all kinds of positive plant growth, duck reproduction, amphibian habitat and on and on.  Beavers are nature's providers for all the other wild creatures who depend on aquatic environments for survival.  And, what does the hand of man do?  He traps the beaver.  Smart move!
Look how much higher the water in his pond is when compared to the river in the forefront of the picture.
The temperature was near 70 degrees already this morning and I stuck the Gheenoe into a brush pile and laid back and just listened to the sounds of this river.  Then I opened my eyes to a very familiar bird call.
 The place was alive with kingfishers of all sizes and shapes.  Their heads were really shaped differently.  Some looked well groomed and others looked like they just went through Boeing's wind tunnel.



This river does wonders for the mental state of health.  it's all about the lack of people and the wealth of critters in a natural setting.
Everywhere I look there is beautiful flowers or green foliage and now I have the addition of a favorite little gremlin I've always liked to watch.

You may get a bit bored at all these shots.  Hey, relax and just kick back and know that this is all out there waiting for you.  This pleasant little bird is perched on a limb just watching for you to come upon the scene so that he can perform for you.  And, he will do just that if you're quiet and move slowly.  The red buds will dazzle your eyes like they never have before because they are enhanced by the presence of reflective water and no camera can capture their true beauty.


I pulled the boat back out into the current and headed upstream and soon came upon Goose Island.
I moved to a position that would allow me to pass close to the island as I wanted to see if any geese had claimed residence their for the mating season.
 And there was a future mother goose claiming a spot to build her nest, in the same spot as the goose I watched on this island last year.
She was hugging the ground, keeping a very low profile like all females do this time of year.
And the beaver up here is still at it.
An otter slide appears on my left.
I often wonder how many people boat up and down this river and never notice a thing that is special to this water.  The river is surrounded with natural wonders and all they can think of is "gotta get the bass."   Also, maybe the catfish.  Amazing!



They're everywhere - they're everywhere!


A particularly graceful great blue heron was fishing and tempted me to take his picture.
 Another older beaver dam appeared and I went over to investigate it.  Everything appeared in good repair which means the owner made it through winter with his life which is not an easy thing to do when there are so many who would take it.


The water was getting rough due to high winds and the surface was actually blowing upstream against the downstream current.  I wonder if that has messed up folks that were lost.  It is said to follow the water down stream and you will come out somewhere.  If the wind is blowing the surface current in the opposite direction as normal which is downstream I'd think one would be following the waterway in the wrong direction.  See how my mind works?
Even the coots are starting to pair off or at least start swimming individually hunting mates.  Yep;  it's that time of year.
 Here is another newer beaver dam.  Again, notice how high his pond is off the river's surface.

I'm calling these dams new but one must remember that I haven't been intimate with this river since last fall.  I didn't see these newer dams then so I'm assuming they are new.  
There's a fellow named Eustace Conway who is a mountain man and lives on a piece of property he owns called Turtle Island.  This place is in North Carolina.  If you want a good read, Google his name and get a book he wrote or at least Google Eustace Conway You Tube and watch him.  He's neat.
Mr. Conway may have his Turtle Island but this little fellow has his own island.



Below is a female goose slipping away to her hideaway back in the grass and wood along the riverbank.  She is doing the goose-creep as I call it.  It's a critter low crawl.  
 Look closely as she's hard to see.
She blends in very well to her background and she is keeping a super low profile that also will assist in her disappearing act.  The addition of river grasses to this environment completes the perfect habitat for these animals.
This mallard took me by surprise and I almost missed him.  Not too bad of a shot I guess.  Could be a lot better though.
And there goes the little scamp blasting up river full speed.  Funny little birds.
The wind has waves whipped up out in the river so I think I'll call it a day and head on in.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this morning and afternoon.  I really needed the get away.  Of course, I have to be on Douglas Lake (the mud- hole) tomorrow afternoon.  Yuk!
There's the end of another entry.  I'm going to go make a pot of coffee and sit on the porch and watch the, pole light on the end of the house 600 feet away.  People and their damn pole lights!  I have some thuja pines that are almost high enough to block that light totally out.  Soon the clumping bamboo commith and with them will be a solid green seventeen foot high wall around this entire property and the rest of the world can take a hike..  See ya.