Thursday, April 2, 2015


This entry is sort of a continuation from my Facebook page showing the red tail hawk.  I posted the hawk last night on Face Book without explanation as I was really beat from all the days activities.  I think I am still recovering from a bad bout with the flue and didn't realize it.  But, the red tail hawk shots were so incredibly gorgeous that I couldn't wait to get them on the page.  The story behind those shots is in this blog entry.
Bay's Mountain Park is located just outside of Kingsport a short drive from route 26.  From the south one would be advised to drive (ride) route 11W North to Kingsport and grab 26 East and follow the green signs.  I drove along the South Fork of the Holston River to get there and I must say the ride was really neat until I had to pick my way through one of the most busy, traffic ridden and ugly industrial areas on the planet.  Once through that mess things became more laid back and green until I was back in the country again.  That ride along the river uncovered some interesting sights.  I won't expound too much on the historical buildings in this entry because the associated signage explains it fairly well.  I'm sure a quick check on the internet will turn up more detail.  This ride on the little mule bike was lengthy and a real pleasure.  It helped revitalize my desire to get on two wheels more often.  Anyway, here's the day:

A little further down the road and on the edge of the river is a flatbed barge circa 1790 which was used to move goods and people up and down the river.  This barge worked in conjunction with the Netherland Inn by bringing travelers to it's door.

 An old chest sat on top the barge near the steering oar.  I couldn't photograph this thing very easily due to the 70-300 lens I had.  It was too large a lens to work up close where I had to be as the barge was confined in a small area.  Thats one of the few drawbacks of telephoto lenses, but it one I don't mind dealing with.  The ideal thing would be to have a second camera with a standard lens.  Of course, I left my SD 990 Canon at home.

Bays Mountain sees elevations of around 2400 feet so one may be wise to carry along a sweat shirt or wind breaker.  There are numerous hiking trails and hiking/biking trails to explore.  I'd leave rover home though, as dogs are not permitted near the animal pens and areas for obvious reasons.  Dogs can be walked on leash in areas outside the animal sections of the park.  There is also a planetarium, amphitheater and observatories to enjoy.  I didn't get to see them but there is a farmstead and a nature center that has got to be super to see!  I didn't get around to all the animals but I wanted to visit at least three today.  They would be the gray wolves, raptors and the snake display.  All these critters are behind wire and photography is very difficult. I did the best I could with it.  There was only one spot near the wolf habitat where I could photograph without the screen wire in my way and it was back lighted - my nemesis.  

 They seem to always have that stalking stance.  One thing for sure is that they don't miss anything that happens around them.  Thank heavens there is a place that is truly interested in their well being and future.  I love this preserve.  And, it is a preserve and doesn't have the "feel good" name of shelter that reflects safety and fools so many folks where dogs are referred to.  

Then, I wanted to visit the raptors.  A caretaker was on scene and I spent a lot of time at the red tail hawk enclosure with him.  The few moments that I spent with that man and the red tail will never be forgotten.  This guy was dedicated to the safety, comfort and health of "his" raptors and he was proud of his position with Bay's Mountain.  We talked and talked and finally he asked if I'd like to photograph the red tail outside the enclosure.  I bout fell over.  What follows is the result of a once in a lifetime opportunity.
 He went inside the red tail hawk enclosure to get the bird that hopped off the perch onto his leather covered arm.  The bird lost its balance during the transition from perch to arm and flapped about a while.  Actually, birds don't lose their balance but the handler moved his arm down as the weight of the bird settled into place.  Exciting stuff!
 And here they are - handler and red tail hawk.  Both are magnificent in my book.  This guy loves hawks and shows it.
 Bay's mountain is not a zoo by any stretch of the imagination.  The reptiles and some of the lesser mammals are collected for display but many of the larger critters have malady's.  This red tail was hit by a car.  She was left laying to die when a person with enough concern and care stopped and picked her up.  Care and attention saved her life but ended her ability to hunt.  Every raptor in captivity here has received some sort of illness or accident that prevents their ability to survive in the wilds.


I'll never forget this man.

And, I definitely wanted to see the bobcats.  The lake there is beautiful by the way.

 There were two animals in the enclosure one of which was sound asleep
 The second cat heard the leaves rustle and noticed a tiny chipmunk far across the enclosure on the "other" side of the wire.  Didn't matter.  He was going to investigate and immediately assumed the wild cat stance and commenced to stalk the little squirrel.

 This was fascinating to watch.  He moved slowly with a fluid motion, placing each foot carefully on the ground and lowering his body slightly.  His eyes never left the little rodent.

 He displayed no hurried motion.  All calm.  All knowing.  All in control.
 He's barely moving now as he approaches very closely to the chipmunk.

 He gathers his legs under him for the plunge that normally would lead him to a successful kill but, there is the all important fence between him and the prey.  

 I bet this fence frustrates them terribly.  Look at the white behind his ears.  A beautiful animal.  Oh, their enclosure is not a pen.  It is huge and they can really roam around.  This is a first class refuge and it obviously operated with the animal's well being at the forefront of concern.

 Oh well, another hunt ended.  Time to relax.
 Love those behind the ear markings in white.

And, last but not least, the snakes.   There are many, many but I selected only two. The Timber Rattlers and the Eastern Coral Snake.  These were indoors behind glass and the photography was difficult.  That's partially why I selected these two species.  They were displayed in a more photographic friendly position within the room.
 We certainly want to keep our distance from these guys.  They are a beautiful creation and deserve to share the planet.  Their contributions to the well being of nature are many.

Well, that's the day in a nut shell.  I have many, many more pictures but these are enough to fill one blog entry.  Hope you enjoyed the entry.  Stay safe and we'll see you next time.  Slow down for animals please.  Give em a break, no matter how small they are.