Friday, August 08, 2014

Hummingbirds! (And a Hummingbird Moth)

Like the hummingbird sipping nectar
from every flower, I fly joyfully through
my days, seeing beauty in everything.
~Amethyst Wyldfyre

We have a new deck (finally! Yay!), on which we have placed several planter boxes with flowers, and also a hummingbird feeder. There is a comfortable chaise chair near the feeder, but not so near that the hummers are afraid to come to it. This gives me an excellent opportunity to photograph them. I suspect I will be doing a lot of this in the future...

Here are a few photos I got recently:

 photo hummer1-080714.jpg

This guy was very wary of me as he snacked at the feeder...

 photo hummer3-080714.jpg

While I was sitting there, I noticed one of them perched in a tree above me. The lighting makes this just silhouettes. 

 photo hummerintree080714.jpg

Meanwhile, still in the realm of hummingbirds (sort of), we have hummingbird moths that come to our butterfly bushes in the back yard every day. So I took a few photos of those and decided to include them in this hummer post.

 photo hummermoth1-080714.jpg


 photo hummermoth2-080714.jpg

I'm sure there will be more hummingbird photos coming along. I enjoy photographing them. It's a challenge, as anyone who has tried knows! Speedy little birds...

On the paddling front (as long as I'm here), we recently drove to check out Thorpe Reservoir as a possible paddling spot. It's close by, very pretty, though the launching access is much worse than at Chatuge. They have not made any accommodation for paddlers, so the only launch spots are concrete ribbed boat ramps--certainly less than ideal for kayak hulls. But once in, it should be a good spot. This is a rainy time here, but it looks like we might get some clear days next week. Stand by.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Lake Chatuge near Hayesville, NC--In Sunshine!

A man of wisdom delights in water.

I guess the third time really is the charm! We attempted once more to visit Lake Chatuge and get in some paddling and this time the weather cooperated!

The drive to this lake is through the mountains and is incredibly scenic. Here's a photo taken during the drive.

 photo roadto070214.jpg

Shortly after taking that one, I got this view out the side window.

 photo roadto2-070214.jpg

We put in at the same spot as before, described in the previous post. Instead of repeating the cove we explored last time, we went straight across it and then stayed relatively close to the shoreline. We hadn't gone far when we came upon this house, with the resident horse watching us pass:

 photo horse070214.jpg

There was a fairly strong breeze as well as several power boats on the lake, and so we spent a lot of time paddling into the wind and across a light chop. I loved it! Since almost all of my paddling in Florida was done on rivers, I haven't spent a lot of time in "textured" water and it was great fun. The water is very warm, almost puzzlingly so.

Again the view no matter where you look is gorgeous. I got this of DH alternating paddling and having one of the sandwiches that we had brought along.

 photo mpaddles070214.jpg

We wanted to see if we could paddle to the Clay Co. Rec Park, where we had visited before. We had found a map of the lake but neglected to take it with us. All of the shoreline homes disappeared, which indicated that we were adjacent to the Nantahala Purchase Unit (which seems to basically mean it's part of the National Forest). We also came to Chatuge Dam. At that point the wind was still blowing, the waves still choppy, and so we decided to turn around and look for the Clay Co. park another day. When we checked the looks like we had been so close! It was not a hard paddle even with the wind, so if we can catch a calm day, it will be easy to go to the park, where we can stop and get out to picnic or swim.

Here's the road leaving the Hayesville area and the boat ramp:

 photo roadfrom070214.jpg

Last time we were driving home it was raining so hard we could not see out the windshield. Scary on narrow mountain roads! We finally came to a scenic overlook and pulled over to wait out the storm. Couldn't look over anything, of course, scenic or otherwise. This time we pulled over and got out to see what we had missed last time.

 photo overlook070214.jpg

This blog is filled with posts from trips to the Wacissa, but those trips differed from time to time because of the wildlife I was able to photograph. I think I have pretty well covered this lake in the last post and this one, as well as a photo on the Photo Miscellanea blog, so future paddling trips here will probably not be posted unless we see something different to show you. This is only the first paddling spot we have explored in our new home area, there must be many more, so I'll be back when we get to one of those. Stand by.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Paddling Lake Chatuge near Hayesville, NC

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore...
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
William Butler Yeats

Last time DH and I drove out to this lake to check it out as a possible paddling spot, we arrived during a ferocious thunder storm. We ate our picnic lunch in the center of the covered shelter, just out of reach of the blowing rain.

This time we had a beautiful sunny day so we packed up the kayaks and headed over the mountains back to Lake Chatuge. It's about 30 miles from our home.

When we got there, dark gray clouds filled the sky and thunder rumbled. Argh. So we sat in the truck for a while looking at the lake--so near and yet so far.....  After about 30 minutes the thunder was more distant and the sky was of two minds--the left side still gray and threatening, the right blue with white clouds. We decided to join other boaters who had been waiting and we launched, with the plan to stay nearby. It's been so long since I have been paddling, I had to get on the water! This is how it looked from where we launched:

 photo Lake062914.jpg

When it rains in the mountains, the clouds settle low, as you can see in the mountains to the left.

We paddled to the right (under the pretty section of sky, of course!). Another lake shot:

 photo lake2-062914.jpg

This is a very large lake, with a shoreline that is woodsy in part and lined with houses with docks in the rest. It's a nice combination. The water is clear and on this day was a beautiful green color. It was remarkably warm as well. If not for the distant thunder and our limited time, I would certainly have found a place to get out and go for a swim. Next time.

We paddled into a cove lined with houses and just enjoyed the feeling of being back on the water. However, the dark half of sky was gradually defeating and moving into the cheerful blue half. Here is the look of it as we were leaving the cove:

 photo lake3-062914.jpg

What amazing timing! When we got out of the boats, it started to sprinkle. When they were loaded and we were pulling out of the parking lot, the sky opened up and it was a deluge. The wind blew sheets of rain across the pavement.

Some day we will visit this lake and it will not be storming....

I don't know the name of the boat ramp that we used. We did not have to use the large concrete ramp to launch, the shoreline all around the parking lot is shallow with pebbles or small stones on the bottom. Very easy launching, great spot to start a paddle. We got there by heading west on 64 going from Franklin toward Hayesville. We turned left on Ledford Church Rd and stayed on that until it dead-ended into the boat ramp parking lot. If you get to the Ingles in Hayesville, you went too far and missed Ledford Church Rd. There is a boat ramp sign on 64.

We want to get back to this lake, and will also be exploring Nantahala Lake, which is about the same distance. Stand by.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Birds of Prey....and a Jay

A wise old owl sat on an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren't we all like that wise old bird?

We have moved to the mountains of North Carolina, unpacking is almost finished. I am not sure what the paddling opportunities will be yet, nor how many of my beloved egrets and herons I will be seeing the near future. But hopefully the "birdography" part of this blog will continue on. (Meanwhile, miscellaneous photos of the area can be found on the Photo Miscellanea blog, which is coming back to life.)

The people who lived in this house before us were apparently avid bird watchers, and they had several feeders set up. We had been filling them on our trips up here from Florida during the year between buying this house and retiring and moving to it, and now we can keep them full on a regular basis. We have many, many more types of birds here than we had in Florida, and I hope to get pictures of them as time goes by. Meanwhile, I did catch this blue jay at a feeder. A lot of people don't like jays--they see them as bullies--but since we never saw any in Florida, we are enjoying their bright colors. Also, while they do display some mob-like behavior, they have only taken over this feeder, leaving the others to the smaller birds. So it all works out.

 photo jayatfeeder0614.jpg

A few days ago we went to a Birds of Prey demonstration at a nearby recreation area, which of course led to lots of photos!

First out was a young barred owl.

 photo barredowl0614.jpg

Here, the presenter, who was really great, was pointing out that those are not ears on top of its head, but rather ear tufts.

 photo barredowlears0614.jpg

Next out was a 7-month-old barn owl, which was born in captivity.

 photo barnowl0614.jpg

He fed the owl a (long-deceased) mouse, which it happily consumed up to the tail...and then it sat looking like this for a while.

 photo barnowltail0614.jpg

And then he brought out a small screech owl that happened to be in a red phase.

 photo screech2-0614.jpg

This owl is blind in one eye, and never took that one eye off the handler. The guy said he had never had one do that before.

 photo screechowl0614.jpg

Next we moved from owls to this small colorful kestrel.

 photo kestrelside0614.jpg

Its tail was very impressive.

 photo kestreltail0614.jpg

The last bird was a red-tailed hawk--a very large bird! And very photogenic.

 photo redtailhawk0614.jpg


 photo hawk2-0614.jpg


 photo hawk3-0614.jpg


 photo hawk4-0614.jpg

It was a wonderful and informative show. We followed it with a picnic lunch next to the lake (no boats allowed, not even kayaks).

When we get a little more settled, we will start looking for paddling spots. Two of my favorite lakes, Santeetlah and Calderwood, are about 90 minutes away, give or take. A long drive for a paddle, but the scenery make it worth it. We are also not too far from Lake Jocassee, which I have wanted to see for quite a while. 

Stand by.