Friday, July 11, 2014

EAGLES, OSPREYS AND OTHER FLOOD PLANE INHABITANTS

With a little luck I'll find something interesting to photograph today.  I couldn't resist saying that.
This was a Douglas Lake morning but I'd be putting the boat in on the French Broad River and not the reservoir proper which means I should see some critters for a change as I'd be running clear upstream to the flood plane..
  The habitat up here is still hanging on by a thread as most property buyers want lake side property and this is mostly river side owned primarily by farmers so the wildlife still enjoys safe habitat conditions - for the time being.
This was going to be a hot one today as it is 8 AM and its 90 degrees already.  Whew!  I moved slowly up the river toward the Rankin flood plane at a slow, steady speed all the while scanning the water and coves for fishermen as well as eagles, ospreys or whatever else might be of interest.
 I just happened to look up through the trees and there was an immature bald eagle perched in the shade under a well leafed branch.
 I didn't see him in time to cut the engine for quiet so I just kept on moving upstream knowing he would not tolerate the racket that engine was making.  I noticed the screeching of another eagle close by.  It got the attention of the immature because I saw him snap his head to the direction of the loud chirping and screeching.  Then he blasted away.  I watched him as long as I could until he blended into the foliage of the mountain side. 
Then I saw where the chirping and screeching came from.  It was one of the adults calling the youngster.


These shots were taken at 1/500th and hardly fast enough to stop action.  Just not enough light but the images came out OK, I guess.


A second bald eagle appeared just a little further up stream.  These are the pair of adults that reside at point 18 on Douglas Lake.  The youngster is one of two babies born this year and is evidently undergoing training while the sibling is waiting at the nest.





I never get tired watching these magnificent birds and I learn something different about them each time I study them in the wilds.

You will see a lot of great egrets on my blog and there is a reason.  Wildlife is difficult to photograph and each opportunity presents its own set of problems and challenges to overcome but, the egret holds a special challenge for me.  You see, the white on the bird is very contrast y with everything in nature and that brilliant white overpowers the camera's automatic white balance settings making photographs bleached out or bright white.   The challenge is to arrive at a setting where the white appears as natural as possible without the bleaching effect.  So, I take a lot of egret pictures and I save the settings in the camera's memory to pull out at some future date.  I never pull them out but its fun to save them anyway.  Lets see how I did today.
 The shot above will be a favorite of mine.  I really like it.
The contrast isn't real bad but I almost got it wrong.  These shots are acceptable to me and I'll post them.



Look like the double crested cormorants are gathering for a meeting of sorts.  I'll skirt around them so as not to disturb their group, and it is quite a large group.



Lets try this one more time:

 The shot below is close to being overexposed - harsh white.  I'll leave it here though.
This osprey is carrying a really heavy piece of wood back to his nest to repair some damage.  I hip shot this bird as he came out of the bright sky to my right and I didn't have time to set up on him.  I had to pan the camera with him.




 I am impressed.  These birds only weigh a couple pounds and the stick probably weighs as much as he does.  You should see some of the tree limbs that bald eagles carry.  Whew!
 He's lowering his lumber down onto the nest that you see in the bottom of the picture below.
Below is a totally different osprey.  An interloper showed up and this guy went balistic on the trespasser.  They actually made contact but I missed that part.  I got them after they released each other.
 Here comes the trespasser in the shot below:
 The resident osprey sailed off the perch and slammed the new guy.
 The trespasser was sent packing.
Later, I ran onto an osprey carrying a fish and I just added him in the mix here on the blog.





 This is a 1st year great blue heron still hanging onto the nest.
 No problem identifying the critter in the following shot:
 And finally a look at the new bridge progress at Walter's Bridge boat ramp.  Things are coming along nicely.

While we are looking at bridges - lets have a look at the old railroad bridge way up river at Rankin.

 I wonder where that heavy chunk of timber is going to land, and it will absolutely let go some day.

I'll stick a couple more shots of the bird bath at my house.  There was a pretty big party going on there last evening.

See ya.  Thanks for looking in........