Sunday, July 16, 2023

Through The Way-Back Machine

 CWUAP was originally an abbreviation of Claire's and Walt's Underwater Adventures in Photography because we were doing a lot of underwater photography.  We needed a place to put up our photos which we thought were pretty darn good.  On a return trip from Indonesia (see the photos here) which was spectacular with Island Dreams Travel out of Houston,  TSA broke my regulator, which was so awesome I felt like I was never having to breathe, broke in several places, and Walt and I were having consistent problems with TSA and traveling was becoming a huge hassle.  We decided to start doing above-ground photography, and that's how we transitioned into the photography we do today.  

But even before Indonesia, we were doing some very fun diving.  One year, Claire decided it would be fun to do a shark-feeding dive.  Now here was the thinking on this:  it was in the Bahamas, and if it was in the least bit dangerous, then it would be all over the newspapers:  HEADLINE:  


Right?   So what could go wrong?  Really!  

Nothing, except that you felt like you were in the middle of a National-Geographic special on TV on you were right in the middle of it! 

It was a fantastic experience.  We, of course, had our cameras, but we bought the video of us diving and have never been sorry - along with some priceless photos.  

Here's the video:

This came with some excellent photography!

Proving once again, it's great to take trips and always take photos of your trips so you can enjoy them over and over.  

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Eaglets Are Fledging - Sorta!

 So another trip to our friend's farm in the eastern part of the county and we see some pretty neat stuff.  We were told that crows were attacking/dive-bombing the eagle nest, which we thought was weird, but not unheard of.  Since we are new to this sight (this spring was our first time there), that could be happening.  But once we got there we saw the typically black juvenile and realized that it could easily be mistaken for a crow.  

It's really easy to tell if you see the two birds together.  But if you don't the beak is the tell-tale sign.  A bird of prey, hawk, owl, peregrine, and eagle will all have that curved tip on their beak, while the crow or raven or any of the crow family, will have a beak that has no curve at the tip of the beak.  If they are side-by-side, like above, it's easy to see that the eagle is a lot larger than the crow, which is another difference.  

Even though the bird we saw on the nest was smaller than an adult eagle, the crook of the beak told us that it was one of the eaglets from the nest, but it was all black and from a distance, may appear to be a crow, except for one thing.
An eagle has distinct phases of color.  An eagle right out of the nest on the verge of fledging will be all black.  This is to protect it from the elements because the eagle has a huge wingspan - 6.5 for the males and 7 for the females (and no snide comments about the women needing a larger wingspan for their larger size!!!)

There is a fabulous article here, but here's a quote from the article that makes you appreciate eagles even more than their stellar beauty.  This blog location is Washington State so therefore some of the dates are off a bit as compared to Oklahoma.  
Some eaglets take their first flight and have no issues, but some may go crashing through the branches and injure their wing and won’t make it. Sometimes eaglets will fall out of the nest, due to some disturbance like fireworks, or a rogue puff of wind, and fall from the nest before they are ready or even able to fly. Those massive wings, 6.5 feet wide for males, and 7 feet for females, have their large feathers full of blood prior to being ready to fly, so if they are forced from the nest too early, they just can’t fly, and if not rescued will hide in the bushes, and usually will not make it.
So if you see an eagle on the ground, try and stay as far away as possible. It’s normal for eaglets to stand on the ground for 20 to 30 minutes while they are finding their way in the world. If you see a eagle on the ground for over an hour, then contact a professional or state or local game expert who can come asses if the eagle is injured and in trouble, or just resting and will be fine.
This makes you appreciate the eagle-fledging process even more.  Another fact that really makes you think, is that mature eagles only store enough energy to fly for 28 minutes a day.  So any extra stress or worry on the bird will cause the bird to use energy that they may need to feed themselves or their eaglets.  

So here are the shots of the juvenile that is attempting to leave the nest, however, is not quite ready.  The caretaker on the property noted that last year the adults left for about a week and then came back to help get the last one out of the nest.  When we first arrived the juvie was flapping his/her wings to try and get out of the next, but I know we alarmed him/her so we decided not to cause any more alarm and left.  The truth is that we don't stay long so as not to cause any additional stress to the stress that nature causes.  

But as usual Walt did get some killer shots.

A little wing-flapping action.  Eagles don't really flap and the lift off the nest, they sort of point down and then grab a wind current and start soaring.  So I guess you would call them soarers more than flyers.  

Aaaah - either the morning gargle or call of the wild!  The later is probably more appropriate.

And this is what finally did it for us.  This juvie is getting that "discriminating eye" that the mature eagle is so well known for.

In comparison, here's the parent (perfecting that "discriminating eye" look) and a pic of the nest which seems so much larger than this spring.  This is about two months ago.  

We might get a chance to watch the last one fledge, but depends upon the bird's and our schedules.  


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Fun In Our Own Backyard

 Even though there have been rumors of an albino eagle in the eastern part of the state, that was all it took to get us back on the road.  Bald eagles are such a majestic species and they have this look like:  "Who gave you permission to take my photograph?!" while checking out the local stream for the best fishing!

But much to our surprise the eastern part of our very own county has some interesting eagle action, and we were lucky enough to receive an invitation to an eagle's nest not far from our home.  We were in for a treat.

The eagles here are on a farm and because the small farm has about 11 dogs, and people wandering around, planting rye, cutting and bailing hay, and well, doing all the stuff farmers do, the eagles were rather blasé about humans.   Then suddenly these weirdos show up with the lends that are about like an eagle's wing-span, and whoa!!!  It's a whole new game.  

And so the eagles had to put on a show for us.  

Aren't their "fingers" pretty?  They really are beautiful birds. 

But we're getting the hint.
We're getting the feeling that maybe we're not all that welcomed.  

Then suddenly Walt sees something really interesting over at the nest.  Now this is my effort at making this fun, but if you look really hard at the left center, you can see something popping its head up and down.  

In case you're not sure where to look, here's where the little eaglet is.

We'll travel out again, but we didn't stay long.  Mothers have enough troubles they don't need these weirdos with huge long tubes on a three-stick stand poking into their business.  So we let them get back to the dogs, Kubota, and running the farm!  But with a little homemade blackberry preserves bribery, we've been invited back!

Monday, October 12, 2020

From the Miracles Never Cease Department

 Let's be honest here.  I'm not the fisherman in this family.  I can clean and remove scales like a champ, but catching them is not my forté.  That is until the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks.

This place is not only beautiful, but it has everything that we love.  I probably shouldn't wax on and on about this cause then it will get discovered, and then it will be prohibitively expensive to be here and over-run with tourists and all that jazz.  It's fall now, and the natives say that it's not as pretty as it usually is.  Really?  Not as pretty?  I think it's pretty gorgeous myself.

Late yesterday afternoon, I was trying to capture these trees (above) in a really great backlight in a watercolor.  I looked up and thought I saw a decent-sized, dark bird that mostly has been black vultures, but every once in a while it's a grey heron or even an eagle.  A river, especially a good fishing river, is a key play for eagles to hang out.  Well, it was an eagle.  I ran up to get Walt and his super-duper camera and he gets a decent shot.  We're going to make an effort later to spend some time trying to get a better shot as we found out where one of the main nests are on the river.  

He's picked up some to-go dinner from the river and headed home (on a branch across the river from our RV) to eat it.  The surprises never stop here.  

But that's not what this part of the country is known for.  It's known for its fishing, more specifically it's trout fishing.  So Walt and I trekked over here to check it out.  We hired a guide, and he's a good guy - really works hard to make sure that we are having fun.  

Here's the catch.  From the first time we went out, I caught the first fish.  I do not catch fishes - EVER!  So I'm in shock.  The first trip ended with me tieing Walt for the number of fish we catch.  

The second trip, I'm thinking this will be fun and all and maybe some fall color, but I won't catch fish all that much.  And plus our guide who we used from last time, wants me to try fly fishing.  Uh, yeah.  Fly fishing is the most artful way to not catch a fish!!!!

I mean look at this - doesn't this look idyllic?  But seriously - catching fish.  That's for the movies or someone who devotes their life to fishing and that's not me!

But guess what.  Our fearless guide is so good and Walt is so patient, that I caught a fish (a cutthroat trout no less) on my first lesson with Mike Decker, our guide.   

Now this includes all the mistakes like setting too quickly and letting it go;  setting the fish and letting the rod down;  missing the indicator going about 6 feet underwater.  I could go on, but for those of you who DO fly fishing, I'm sure you're rolling on the floor laughing your hearts out!

Needless to say, this will be framed, and then people will be bored eternally while I tell them my exploits of my first fish I caught fly fishing!  

And of course, it sounds so cavalier and urbane to say that it was a cutthroat trout!!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Sometimes You Just Never Know

 The day started out really dreary and cloudy and we figured that it was going to be a slow day.  I caught the most about 3 and they were fun, but nothing to write home about.  Walt was up to a grand total of ZERO!

So this is looking like a Once upon a midday dreary, while I fished, weak and weary....." cause we aren't catching nothing, no how, zero, nada, zilch!

So we head back up to the dam with our intrepid guide, the Professory of Fishology, who if anything is as perseverent as I am.  I drop my line in the water, with a new lure - we've tried about 4 or 5 as our Fishology professor knows all the secrets to what works on a weekend (with heavy traffic) and cloudy day (when the fish are in a "Meh," mood)!  I drop it into the water and immediately get it snagged so hand it off to Mike, the professor.  Mike tells me I have a fish and the pole is really hanging down.  If this is a fish, it's gotta be the Moby Dick of trout.  He's working the pole and I'm still not sure that I'm not hung up in the grass or moss or something.  Pretty soon the line frees and I figure that I'm out of the moss.  Mike brings the lure onto the boat, and the fish, yes it was a fish, has straightened the little hook.  

NOTE:  In the catch and release area, you are only allowed to use barbless hooks.

The barbed means that after you set the fish, at least you have a chance of keeping the fish on the line cause the fish can't back out of the hook.  Because this is a catch and release area, the fish, and game department doesn't want too much damage to the fish, but the down-side is that if the fish swims toward you the hook can easily fall out.  This means you must keep tension on the line the entire time you are reeling in the fish.  Sounds easy, but you can lose a fish very easily in the excitement if you don't work hard to remember to keep the pole up and keep the fish set in the hook. 

I sound like a pro, but just been schooled by the professor!!!

And the professor says the reason I lost the fish was that the fish was a monster fish and it bent the hook.  I didn't feel so bad, but to be honest, I thought the professor might have made that up to make me feel better.  He fixed my line then we headed right back to the same spot.  He knew exactly where I had gotten it and he was after that huge fish.  I'm not so sure.

We both drop our lines into the water, and almost immediately, Walt says he's stuck in the moss.  The prof comes over and touches his line and exclaims that not only does he have a fish, he has a monster fish.  I'm not kidding when I say they worked a good 4 to 5 minutes struggle to get that fish to the side of the boat, all the while Mike realizing that this may have very well been the fish that straightened my hook and he wants to get that fish on the boat before another hook is straightened.  He's not worried about the hook, he simply wants to get the fish on board before it gets away.  

I think Mike is more excited than we are, simply because he knows what he brings out of this river, and this is one of the big ones.  It was a very handsome male.  They got it on board, and Walt gets a great shot.

And after hardly any fish all day - one little 12-incher - and then to get this great 26" fish.  Walt is beside himself, and Mike is overjoyed.  

Obviously, this is enough to feed about 10 people, however, this is the catch and release area, and Mike, being the schooled professor in all things fishology, as well as the Arkansas Fish and Game rules, knows that this goes back in the river so that some other fisherman can have the joy of catching him.  He struggled mightily and Walt was a little concerned, but once in the water, we waited and made sure that he was recovering and on his way into another current awaiting another meal!

So what looked like it was going to be a dud day, turned out to be a monster fish day!  You just never know!

Friday, October 9, 2020

When You Start Like This....


Then progresses to this (into the record-type size)...

I swear 3 minutes in the water and I'm pulling out a 20-incher!

Then a little of this....two at once - now that's a good fish guide who can handle two fish at once!

With Walt's big catch.

And this is a typical day on the White River and why we love it so much!  Well, that and the color in the background.  When the fish aren't jumping into the boat, the color is gorgeous!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Back at Our Cool Find

 We liked this so well last time, that we decided to come back again.  This is our first "full" day here in the new-to-us RV (fifth-wheel) and we still feel as though we've got a bargain of a deal.  We love the 5th wheel if for no other reason that your intrepid authoress here can actually hook it up and unhook it, in case Walt gets 1.) eaten by a bear, 2.) fall into the river and end up in a body cast (which wouldn't be so bad, and I would have the last word on every word he could utter), and/or 3.) just to show off how cosmopolitan my cadre of skills are!  

The leaves are just turning, so we will be here for some color (yes, that's very sweet), and here's the proof.

This is right out our back window, with a little tiny light from the sun late this afternoon.  Usually the mornings are quite foggy and had a hard time burning off.  

But, and I don't normally upload something this bad, only to let me know what's in store for the next 2 weeks!!!

Yep, right over our heads, late this afternoon while waiting for the favorite bird of all time - Bald Eagle!  Can't wait to see more and possibly fishing the river!