Saturday, 31 January 2015

Another Sunday In January At Baihe Reservoir

Pushed for time as usual, so this is just a brief collection of some of the many photos I took last weekend. All of these shots chosen below were taken with the 18mm kit lens with the exception of the eagle pictures which were all taken with the 300mm lens. First, another shot toward "Pillow Mountain" (枕頭山) with bamboo sticking out of the water in the foreground...


Approaching the entrance to the central channel connecting the western part of the reservoir on its' hidden north side with the eastern part of the reservoir...


Two small stone markers I spied in a cul-de-sac within the central channel; I couldn't make out the characters clearly due to the long grass...


Another fairly close shot (albeit this image is also cropped) of the crested serpent eagle I posted on Wednesday...


Another, smaller bird of prey, almost certainly a falcon...




And just across from him in a neighboring tree, another eagle (about two or three times as big)...




I took those pictures from a small corner of the channel which contained this hazard - a dead tree. Hazardous to me in my inflatable boat because the dead branches under the water could have punctured the boat if I wasn't careful. But obviously I was very careful...


Looking out from that corner toward the channel's first inflection point (left to right corresponds to east to west - the direction I was travelling in)...


All but one of the boats and fishing pontoons of this first "lake" inside the channel had been removed...


Approaching the second bottle neck...


Looking back on it having passed through...


Hugging the northern shoreline, heading straight west into the late afternoon sunshine...


Approaching the exit of the central channel out into the reservoir's large western spurs on the hidden north side - it's been a long time since I was last here...


Looking back - the central channel opening is to the left, and the aperture to the right proceeds towards the south side of the reservoir and the de-facto swamp which is what the general public can see from the dam...


And I then headed southwards having spotted another eagle perched in a tree, thinking I could use the cover of the trees to sneak up on him for a close up shot. I did actually manage this, but I only got one shot before he took off...


... and flew across to the other, eastern side at which point I paddled desperately to get as close as I could though I was restricted by the mud flats that extended northwards from the swamp area...






I headed back northwards to turn into the central channel again and make my way back up to the far eastern corner of the reservoir. A pylon just on the corner to the channel's entrance...


The central channel's western entrance...


Looking back as the sun began to set...



Approaching the central channel's eastern entrance...


Leaving the first (east-to-west) inflection point behind...


Well into dusk, I spotted these two stray dogs wandering along the reservoir's edge looking for dead fish to eat...


Just before the light failed...


It was an exhausting five hours or so on the water, but well worth it. Many lessons learned which I don't have time to describe now.

Friday, 30 January 2015

On Baihe Reservoir (白河水庫) Below Pillow Mountain (枕頭山)


Another shot from last Sunday afternoon at Baihe reservoir. Taken with the 18mm kit lens with a filter attached and then the image cropped afterwards. The location from which the shot was taken is close to the "front" (i.e. west) of the fork's northern arm; the "gate" connecting the east to the west of the reservoir can be seen in the distance (the gap between the trees, with the pylon in the background); the landform ahead and to the left is the central peninsula which splits the east end into a fractal fork - on the other side of that spit of land is the southern branch of the fork. Around the corner to the right lies the entrance to the central channel which also connects the west and east ends of the reservoir. The mountain in the distance is "pillow mountain" (枕頭山), a local landmark from whose peak the reservoir's central channel and northern corridors cannot be seen.

Last Sunday I navigated my way all the way through that channel and back again as slowly and as thoroughly as I could. I took about several hundred photographs with the real camera this time instead of the phone camera. I am again stretched for time, having just got the black bike from the shop after having the worn-down clutch handle and old indicator lights replaced because they were dropping to pieces.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Time to stop and stare...


It's well after one in the morning on Tuesday night (OK technically speaking it is Wednesday morning) and I've still not had time to write up about my trip the previous Sunday. So this will have to do for now - it's probably the pick of the eagle shots I managed, though I did take a few other half-decent ones. This shot was taken with the 300mm lens and has been cropped and edited with a central highlight and some brightness adjustment.

I spent five hours on the water last Sunday, and over eight hours on the job in total and it still wasn't enough.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Confirmation At Taoyuan

I've been meaning to get back to Baihe reservoir again at some point to try and do a lap of the whole reservoir, which would necessitate a very early start, but for various reasons I haven't got around to it. One of those reasons is that I decided to spend more time on the diversion for Tseng-wen reservoir. On Friday night, whilst lying in bed sick and half-awake I came to the tentative conclusion, from having read engineering plans, and from having visited the site several times already, that the east tunnel has been abandoned and that there is nothing to see in Taoyuan. But I couldn't rid myself of all doubt, for one thing because I know certain types of things (especially e.g. tunnel mouths) simply cannot be seen directly on google earth, and that the associated structures which would normally allow you to infer their presence can be misleading. I was also plagued by questions concerning what I might be able to see if only I took a closer look - for instance, would I not be able to see signs of preparation for the tunnel mouth? With all of that in mind, I drove back out to Taoyuan again today - with what I intend to be the last trip out there for some time.

I left Tainan at 12.35 p.m. and rolled into Chinghe village just outside Taoyuan at about 2.30 p.m., which is excellent time considering the distance. I parked around the back of the last little building in the row (a KTV place) and walked down the gravel track and into the immense river bed to have a poke about. Looking upstream past the long-ago buried suspension bridge...


Another view of the noisy rapids looking upstream (northeast)...


Looking directly across the river to the cleft between spurs where the stream from a waterfall I visited a few years back finds its way out to join the Laonung...


I noticed something odd in the tree above one of those spurs; at least two of the upper branches appear to have "fused" together to form a solid object. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that before...


Looking directly northward at an angle across the river to the approximate point at which, according to the Water Bureau plans, the east tunnel should have its' entrance. The only thing noteworthy is the rightward slope of the land toward the riverbed, indicative of a track...


Once more looking northeast directly upstream; the river is only a few yards across at the moment, but when it flooded during typhoon Morakot in 2009 it must have been an absolute monster...


Later I left the riverbed, and drove slowly up along the highway for a short distance to get more pictures. Here is confirmation of the track that slopes down to the riverbed - notice that it carries on rightward...


... it then passes this small dried-up stream falling down from the cliffside...


... and perhaps carries on interminably along the cliffside...


... and around the corner before the next major tributary valley...


My guess is that the road has been used for geological surveillance and probably little else, since all heavy equipment (trucks and the like) must be brought in from the highway, not the tiny precipitous cliffhanger track that precedes this thing down to the riverbed. In any case with the reading I've done and with what I've seen with my own eyes both yesterday and today, I am satisfied with the conclusion that the east tunnel has either been suspended or abandoned entirely.

As much as I like being out there in Taoyuan district, it is a pain in the arse to drive all the way out there and then back again. I won't be making a return trip for a long time I think, unless I get the opportunity to go looking for eagles in the Yushan National Park this Chinese New Year.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Tseng-wen Reservoir Trans-Basin Diversion Channel: West Tunnel Entrance & East Tunnel Exit

After the last two days of being ill, I felt much better this morning though my appetite and digestion is still out of whack. Once I had taken the dogs out to the park, I decided to take a quick trip out to Namaxia district in Kaohsiung to see the gap between the east and west tunnels of the Tseng-wen reservoir trans-basin diversion channel. 

Myself on the east side of the Cishan river, with the entrance to the west tunnel on the other side of the river in the background...



There was work going on inside the tunnel at the time (notice the lights), just as there had been work going on from the other side last weekend. From the same lay-by off the main road, I was also able to walk right up to the exit point for the east tunnel...


The building to the right of the tunnel mouth is a makeshift office, which appears to have been at least temporarily abandoned - doors left open, and rubbish lying around all over the place. The tunnel mouth itself is fenced off, although there is a large pipe sticking out of it (at the other end of which is a kind of sack which stretches down from the pipe to the tunnel floor).

I've now found and photographed three out of four of the tunnel mouths. The only one that's missing is the one that should be on the west side of the Laonung river across from Chinghe village. Two explanations for why I haven't found it yet: either it is partially hidden and I haven't looked closely enough in exactly the right spot, or it doesn't exist yet. If the latter is true then it must surely mean that, though partially complete, the excavation of the east tunnel is not yet complete and may be re-started at some future point. If that is the case then it may also explain two other facts - the absence of a weir at Chinghe to entrap water from the Laonung river (such a weir hasn't been built yet), and the apparent abandon in which the west mouth of the east tunnel has been left; work may recommence on the east tunnel at some point in the future. 

In my spare time I am still reading engineering and environmental assessment reports from the last couple of years about the trans-basin diversion tunnel. One thing that I think can definitely be said is that the already difficult job of building the tunnel was made more difficult by the alterations to the terrain left by typhoon Morakot in 2009. I have more reading to do, but one possibility is that the east tunnel may have been abandoned for the time being, and that there is a substitute plan to divert water into the west tunnel from the Cishan river.

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Day Of Sickness

Early yesterday afternoon, whilst at work, I began to feel a mild "tightening" of my stomach. By the time I'd finished that job in the late afternoon it was still there and became noticeably worse on my drive down to Kaohsiung for the evening job. I pulled in at a pharmacy to get some anti-acid tablets and took two before I started work - I also ate a readymade in a 7-11. During work the problem became quite painful, so much so thatI had to sit down rather than stand as I usually do. I also began to shiver with body chills. The drive back to Tainan on the motorbike was uncomfortable.

I immediately took the dogs out to the park and then cooked their food for them. Whilst the pot was cooking, I took a hot shower and after washing just sat down for ten minutes with the hot water running over me. When the food was cooked and I had left the shower and changed, I let it cool for fifteen minutes whilst I had a lie down on the sofa. Getting up to cut the food (four pig hearts) up for the dogs was a very difficult task as I was losing control of my hand movements and overcome with the desire to just lie down and curl up into a ball.

I slept from about 10.30pm to 1am at which point I woke up to to the bathroom. I felt much better after that and got myself some hot water to drink. During the rest of the night I slept in fits and starts, which may have been because the sofa is relatively hard. 

In the morning my stomach felt better, but it was still inflamed and I was still suffering from headaches and aches and pains. The body chills were gone though and my fever had come down a little. I took the dogs to the park and sat under a tree for half an hour in the sunshine. 

Since then I've stayed indoors and called in sick. I've got very little energy and cannot eat because I have a suppressed urge to vomit. I've had half a cup of coffee but couldn't finish it. It's now well after 5pm and I'm worried how long this is going to last for. If it stays this bad, then I won't go anywhere this weekend.

This is the first time I've been sick in maybe a year.