Monday, May 12, 2014

RANKIN AND THE FLOODPLAIN IS COMING ALIVE

The birds are returning.  Terns, great herons, little herons, green herons, black crowned night herons, sandpipers in a variety of configurations, cormorants, no less than 8 species of ducks and more are slowly making their way back to this wildlife packed part of the French Broad River.  The simple presence of the great egret changes the entire ambiance of the river from one of stagnant and slow brown flow reminiscent of winter to that of cheerful river scenes, bird and water sounds that promise enlightening  discovery and cheery warmth. 
They are taken for granted throughout the warm months but missed so badly through the winter months.  Their white presence seems to put everything at ease and sets the stage for much awaited summer.
They mostly linger along the edge of the river where overhanging limbs provide shade for them.  They also know that the fish they seek will also find the shade inviting.



The heat is being turned up quite a few notches this morning.  Whew.  No wonder these critters are secreting away under foilage.

Geese still are protective of their young and have them hidden away in the tall brush.  They will fly away in an attempt to get me to follow them away from their young.
 Oops, almost missed him.  Well, I guess I did miss him, or at least his beak. Almost only counts in horseshoes.
Look how this girl keeps very low to the surface of the water.  She is returning to her chicks and is using all caution to avoid being seen.  Cute....

Mallards are arriving at the flood plain in larger and larger groups weekly.  I've seen a thousand here at one time.  As common as they are, they still are easy on the eyes with their beautiful colors.






One of the most interesting residence of the river is the great blue heron who's worth has been debated by sportsman and professional wildlife folks alike.  He is federally protected and it's a good thing for there are those who would like to see him disappear.  Humans are a strange lot.
 Very stately in appearance I'd say.  
Of course the river at Rankin would not be well rounded in wildlife at all without the osprey, affectionately called Fish Eagle by the locals.


 She leaves her perch and flies to her nest and babies at my approach.  She's a good mom.
Dad isn't any slouch either.  He sees my boat approach and screeches out a loud series of cries and leaves his perch to circle the boat.  Time for me to leave I guess.








It's a nice morning and there isn't too many folks on the lake.  There is one good fisherman who always catches fish and says hello to me when I'm on this end of the lake.  He's good at fishing for sure.
Cormorants have arrived on the river in great numbers from their winter paradise, wherever that is.

The cormorants are setting up housekeeping and soon will have babies in the rookeries.  Speeking of nests, look below:
 Look at that pencil neck and tiny head.  Funny.  A better shot follows:


I saw another common tern standing on a rock buoy down river at Leadvale.  This is two sightings in as many days.  I don't think they stay here in East Tennessee but pass through on their way north and again when they pass by to the Gulf.  I'll have to read up on em.  They are indeed a beautiful bird.  Lucky to have them.





 There is something we are not very lucky to have.  Whoever said that the tick population would be squelched by the extended, cold winter is sadly mistaken.
 The terrorist tick above was on my ankle this morning.  I pried the little wretch off and applied a bit of medieval torture to him.  This is one critter in nature I'd like to see disappear and he can take his relations with him.  They would be the chigger populations.

I complained about winter hanging on so long and griped about , "where's summer?"  Well, summer's here right now.  It is so hot out I can't mow the lawn.  What an amazing change in temperature we've had in one week's time.  But, I love it.  That's it for this entry.  See you later.