Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day 154, Tuesday, 6/10/08, Year Four Dancer & Daedee: Snow Falling on Eagles

Hello Eagle Friends,

It was a beautiful day in the valley. The skies were blue most of the afternoon and it was 76 degrees. By early evening the clouds rolled in and offered an impressive array of swirls of grays and pinks.

I found no activity on nest 7 today.

At nest 2, 65 day old Terry Gail was sitting up on the nest with her eyes following something I couldn't see from my viewpoint. Her sharp cries told me it was probably mom or dad with dinner.

I moved on to nest 6. The twins were only visible for a moment before they moved into a location on that nest that was out of my view.

As I moved along towards nest 5 I stopped to shoot a picture of a great blue heron fishing in a shallow marsh with arrowhead plants. Then an osprey flew overhead, so I followed him. He moved towards the big pond and I followed him there too. He seemed to be narrowing in on a fish below.

I watched him as he circled small tight circles, then suddenly he folded his wings in and dropped head first into the pool below. There was a loud splash and I watched this eagle-sized bird rise like a Phoenix from a fire, out of the water with a good sized fish cinched in his talons.

Up he lifted, with such grace, it seemed effortless and he flew off into the distance to feast on his find.

At nest 5 the twins were buddied up side by side.

At nest 3, Victory Bell was up on the nest tearing at some food. I watched two eagles flying around nest 4. I looked for Golden Eyes, the bullfrog, but he was not there. Maybe a turtle did eat him, that or a huge fish.

I hiked out to nest 1 and found the twins up on the nest, crying out. Daniels Charlie called out for attention as one of the parents flew by. Finally the two eaglets settled. While they sat there side by side in the nest it was like watching one bird with four eyes, for their heads moved in unison and their eyes focused on the same birds of the air.

I found a doe nursing her fawn in a meadow and watched her as she stepped over the fawn to get a better picture of me. She watched me cautiously for about five minutes before moving off with her fawn following closely behind. I was just ready to leave when another doe came in.

She looked right at me, and then I noticed the buck watching me. His antlers were only about six inches high and covered in velvet. He watched me as I shot his image, and another doe walked behind him. The sun had already gone down behind the bluffs so I had minimal light for the shots, rare is the opportunity for a buck to step into the view in the first place, so I'm thankful for the shots I got.

Of course my card crashed while downloading and I got all my images from today, except a handful of the eaglets and the buck, and the doe with her fawn. Thank God for good recovery programs. It took awhile, but I got my images back.

On my way home from my studio tonight I noticed a couple lumps in the road. As I neared them I noticed one was already dead. A drake mallard. The other was a young, but fully feathered duckling. The scene was enough to make my eyes fill with tears.

As I stopped my truck the duckling didn't even get up. His father (assumed) was dead in the road just inches away from him. There were no siblings or mother in sight. Just one lone mallard duckling who was just starting to get his green head, and he didn't know how to fly because his wings were not fully feathered.

I can't explain how we have a duckling this mature this early in the year when most other duckling's are still down covered and chasing the tips of their parents tails. Perhaps he was an easter duckling that someone raised, then turned loose down at the lake where he found a mallard to hang out with. That is one possibility.

I'm glad you didn't have to see that duckling laying down by the dead drake, faithful to him, even with the approach of my headlights and truck. It bothered me all the way home, in fact, I circled back just to make sure the duckling was still in the grass. That's when I realized there was only one moral to this story: John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

I'm looking forward to day 155.

See you on the journey--


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