Thursday, July 9, 2015


All photos by Canon 7D and Sigma 150-500mm telephoto

My back was killing me after three hours of this pounding.  This lake is terrible when the wind is up.  I've got to do seven hours on this rolling ocean.  Yikes!
 Above:  An odd duck
 This bald eagle appeared so quickly that I almost couldn't get myself together fast enough to photograph him.  Fortunately I had the camera preset to conditions and all I had to do was point and shoot.  I'd rely on auto focus for the details.  I could have had more shutter speed though.  Oh well.....

 He was a pleasant surprise.  Seems the eagles are starting to reside on Cherokee Lake more and more. I'm seeing them every time I am in the center of the lake.  

 I doubted these pictures would be any good but, they aren't bad.  Not perfect, but not bad.  It was like trying to take a portrait while "standing" on a rocking chair today on this water with three foot rollers tossing the boat side to side.

An enormous cormorant/heron/egret rookery exists on Cherokee Lake and I idled past its shoreline this morning.  I was amazed at the quantity of wading birds residing there.  I always knew about the Cormorants but I didn't know Great Egrets had their rookery there.  And, the biggest surprise was the great quantities of Black Crowned Night Heron immatures residing there.  Below:  You probably will notice that the trees have a lot of white combined with defoliaged branches.  This is because the defecation of cormorants is pretty much liquid and it is highly ascetic.  Where ever cormorants reside in rookeries; all the trees die.  Thats one draw back to them.  Its how nature made the situation.  Humans don't like it and often try to overide nature.  Shame on them.  The trees will grow back.  Its been this way since cormorants evolved into what they are.  
 Below:  Look at that tail.  

 Below:  I got your back
 Below:  "Hey, you guys up there!  Could you keep it down so we can have some peace down here?"
I could see about 50 egrets in a cluster of trees.  They were nesting clear at the top of the trees.  I was moving close to the shoreline and lost sight of them.  This is the first Great Egret rookery I've seen since being in Tennessee.  

 This fellow is a immature black crowned night heron.  He is a small wading bird, maybe a foot tall.  They have a heavy population on this island.  I've never seen this many night herons in one spot.  It is obviously a rookery for them as well as the larger wading birds.  These guys perch in dense foliage and scare easily.  They are hard to photograph.

 These are fairly good shots of the double crested cormorant.  Note the long, flat plane forming the top of his head.  That's where he gets the name "double" crested.  His head is long and not round.  These pictures are great shots if you want to study the detail of this wonderful bird.
 This is a very powerful bird both in flight and in underwater  swimming.  They are dynamic when taking off the surface and they are incredibly mobile sub surface.  The species is gregarious and does not function solo.

 This is another black crowned night heron juvenile.  This 7D camera is so quick to operate and is so much like my 50 D in  function that I  simply put it to my face and dialed in my settings without giving thought to it at all.  Automatic.  The following shots were about three seconds apart.  Amazing, isn't it?
 These immatures will not sit and pose for long.

 He's ready to go.  They are lightning fast and I almost missed his take off.  Well, maybe I did.  Depends how one looks at it.  I kind of got him.....

Again, notice the white foliage....

 Below:  "Look at me.  Look at me.  Hey, Over here.  Look at me."

 This beautiful immature bald eagle flew off the island and circled my boat.  I didn' t do a thing but continue on my way down the shoreline of the island.  He was magnificent.
 I guess these shots could be a study in eagle flight.  Note that his wings are outspread most of the shots.  He soars much like a vulture does.  These huge birds conserve energy at every moment.  Its life and death to them.  If they expend more energy than calleries they take in - they die.  Simple.

 He is magnificent.  Of course, all bald eagles are magnificent.

 He's lookin bad as heck in these shots.  

 Just then, a second eagle blasted out through the foliage of a tree straight towards the boat.  Wow!  He flew directly over the top of me.  I had trouble getting him in the big 500mm lens.

 He was moving along at a fast clip and I had trouble staying on him with this big lens.
 Look at him------how magnificent!

 Note the two or three tail feathers that are broken.  They will be replaced.  The eagle is fine.  He is probably going into molt.  Raptors molt in stages so they don't lose all their feathers and become unable to hunt.  

 A great egret does a fly over and the opportunity was too much to good to pass up.
 Note the color:  This 7D has a much better sensor than my older 50D.  The colors are great.

 They always squabble.  A rookery of cormorants sound exactly like a pen full of pigs.  No lie!

 An immature black crowned night heron bolts away from his perch at the sound of the engine and I swing the 7D with the huge lens to my face and luckly find the fleeing bird.  Click, click, click.  Success.  Luck.  What a camera.!!!!!!!
 He appears ungainly.  These immatures always fly directly into the foliage at top speed and disappear instantly.  This camera is so user friendly that I was able to get this bird immediately after lift off and follow him through his five second flight to his disappearance.  
 Nature is cruel at times.  Things happen and the weak fail while the strong survive.  Its the way of things.  A cormorant that I suspect flew into this tree at top speed.  Just a guess.
And that was my morning.