Monthly Archives: December 2013

Creature Feature 2013 #13

I hung out in the back yard for a bit on Christmas Day and snapped a few pictures of the backyard wildlife. This Tufted Titmouse stopped by for some fast food:

… to go:

And he wasn’t the only really small bird. This Chickadee was on the alert:

These folks (Mourning Dove and Blue Jay) stopped by the see what was going on:

Meanwhile, out on the lake, it’s pretty much the winter season. This Seagull is far from the coast, but that’s not unusual for this time of year:

One of the geese seems to be off to a rough start to winter, but she seemed to be flying just fine, even if minus a few flight feathers:

The weather cleared up just in time this weekend to get in some flying. I think this is Rainbow Falls, near Jones Gap, SC (click on the picture and zoom into the full-res image):

while clouds hung on over the Smokie Mountains:

I know this is a “creature feature” and you don’t see any creatures in those last two pictures, but I’m sure they’re in there somewhere. Some would consider the planet itself a creature (check out the “Powers That Be” series of books by Ann McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough for a story of a planet that really does fit that description).

Soggy weekend

Not a real good weekend for outdoor activities, but we did manage to sneak out into the air a bit under a ceiling that threatened to become a floor in places:

Duke Power maintains a hydro-electric facility called Bad Creek that, in part, operates like a big mechanical battery. During times when they have extra electricity, they pump water up into the reservoir. When demand cranks up, they let the water run back down to generate additional electricity. Those low ceilings didn’t leave room to get much closer than this.

Almost oddly, the sun did manage to find a hole here and there.

Update: Even though Sunday turned out to be overcast, drizzly with occasional rain, around 40F degrees, and a chilly northeast breeze, I couldn’t just sit around the house. I went out on the lake for a bit. One thing that I’ve noticed is the apparent indifference that a lot of the wildlife displays towards the weather. I’m sure they’re aware of the conditions, since it’s a matter of survival, but, also a matter of survival, they can’t just curl up somewhere. They have to get out and eat. It was a deadful day for trying to take pictures, but I caught this Kingfisher hangin’ around a fishing spot, getting a bit ruffled by the wind.

Creature Feature 2013 #12 – Heron Special

A chilly day on the edge of winter, but it’s still neat to be out on The Lake. I know I titled this “Heron Special”, but the Great Blue Herons weren’t the only birds out there. This Kingfisher was just hangin’ out, fluffed a bit against the cool temperatures:

(as usual, click on the picture for a higher-resolution version)
So I’m paddling along and I spooked a Heron that I didn’t see. I try not to do that, but I just didn’t see this one. She took off and headed up the lake, but then decided to turn back. Maybe she recognized me and realized I wasn’t a threat, and wanted to get back to that spot.

Nice wingspan, complete with winglets:

She treated me to an airshow-like low pass right in front of me, camera snapping away.

and circled around into the trees. You can just about see her in the trees here:

For a large bird, they can get around in the trees pretty good. Here’s one just jumping off the top of a tree and transitioning into a flight configuration:

The operation looked very awkward, but he very quickly was in full flight.

“The Annual” – done

That which was taken apart has been put back together again.

No major findings, just a couple of worn control surface bearings, which have been replaced and the aircraft is considered airworthy now.
It’s worth noting that airworthiness is as much as matter of paperwork as it is the condition of the machinery. The metal can be in pristine condition, but if the aircraft records don’t say it is, it ain’t airworthy.