Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 156, Thursday, 6/12/08, Year Four Dancer & Daeedee: Snow Falling on Eagles

Hello Eagle Friends,

Today I went out early to cover what I could, in case it did flood. We are under a flash flood warning, most if not all of southeast Minnesota until tomorrow.
It was cooler, a mere 67 degrees when I arrived in the valley. The skies looked threatening but it was the rising of the creeks and rivers that I focused on.

I stopped at the Whitewater River that runs through the Lazy D campground. The river was well over the banks and one of the owners was by me observing the same scene.
"Are you evacuating campers, and having people move out their trailers?"
She shook her head, and my heart went out to her for what they had just rebuilt was
on the verge of being destroyed again. "Not yet. My husband is coming down to take a look first."

I felt as helpless as her watching the water rise and spill up onto their new asphalt.

I hiked out to nest 1 and right away Dale, my German shepherd picked up the scent of that animal. We were there less than ten seconds when the animal lunged back towards the river.

The sound of the river was enough to make me uneasy. The twins were up on the nest,
both were soaked and drying out under an sunless sky. I didn't stay long today due to the quick rising river, and I know from the other floods that where I was standing would be 12 feet under should the river flash flood.

That and I was unsure if the roads would be passable by nest 3-6.

At nest 2 I was fortunate to arrive at time when 67 day old Terry Gail was up on the nest leaping into the air, into a perfect flight. I thought she was going to fly right out of the south east opening and towards the river, but instead she hovered and flew
about five feet up and off the nest before coming down and landing.

The eaglets wait for a strong wind gust to perform these mini flights, so it is true, that the eagle flies on the gusts.

At nest 6 the river was already over the banks and pouring into puddles in the turn-around off the highway. There were three goose families led their gosling's right into the fast moving current, and in a blink all were swept downstream.

The twins, Freedom and Soar were up on their nest, peering down at the 100 foot drop while their father, Dick watched them from his perch. My guess is that food may be
harder to find while the water swirls around creating chocolate whirlpools; with only a chance of fins.

I drove deeper into the valley, unsure if by taking the next curve if the road would be submerged ahead where the river runs parallel to it.

When I arrived the rive had swallowed most of the shoulder and the current was rushing
but not wild, like I have seen it, so I moved on trusting that I'd have a road to drive back on when I finished up ahead.

At nest 5 the twins were up on the nest practicing their leaps into the air. They are
coming up on 10 weeks and will be leaving the nest any day in the next couple weeks.

I watched a small, about a one week old monarch caterpillar chewing holes in the smallest leaves at the tip of the milkweed plant. I watched a couple small beetles nymphs,resting on grass stems not even knowing what dangers could be coming their way if that river keeps rising.

At nest 3, Victory Bell was up on the nest. Dale wanted to go explore, so we hiked back a little ways and I'm glad I let him lead for he lead me to the most lovely
water lotus I have seen this spring.

I probably shot a dozen images trying to capture the feeling I had when I saw it. Then
I watched a female red-winged black bird hoping from lily pad to lily pad and I tried to imagine what that would feel like if we could be as weightless as a bird, hoping across lily pads on a rising marsh.

Another female red-winged blackbird was either gathering grasses for her nest, or puling out soaked grasses from her nest that was submerged. I don't know why these birds choose to nest so close to the water, to me it would seem that even a fishing spider would carry away their young.

I saw a few deer out on the roads where their normal watering holes were swollen with the rising of the creeks. On my last pass through the water had come up higher and with more fury than on my first pass. It would take another few inches of rain to flood the area. We have that rain coming this weekend, unless the storms shift again.

By nest 1 I noticed a female pheasant guiding her "perfect by the dozen" chicks out of the road and into the ditch grasses. I was laughing as I watched them fly up and over each other in a "leap frog" game of staying closest to mom. Of course, if you were on this valley's menu of bite-sized appetizer's, you'd stay close to your mom too.

On my drive home I met a thunderstorm scene that moved slowly, drifting across a pasture far, but to beyond the cows with their calves.

As I left I said my prayers for the safety to those valley inhabitants, the people their, their businesses, and the eagles who nest there.

I'm looking forward to day 157.

See you on the journey--


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