Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 164, Friday, 6/20/08, Year Four Dancer & Daedee: Snow Falling on Eagles

Hello Eagle Friends,

Today was packed full of promises. My trip to the valley was a warm one, with temperatures already in the mid 80's, and with the humidity it felt like a 100 degrees.

I decided to cover all the other nests first and save nest 1 for last today.

I found no activity on nest 7, although it does appear the nest is either beginning to fall apart, or someone is adding to it.

On my way to nest 2 I found a mother pheasant watching over her little chicks who were hopping, leaping, and trying to fly
over one another. She kept a close on me, peeking out from behind a grass blade, and finally I won her trust and she stepped out into full view with her darlings.

Terry Gail was 75 days old today. She was practicing her flights across the nest when I arrived, but one of her parents must have been near for she stopped flying and started crying out instead.

At nest 6 the twins, Freedom and Soar were both visible and actively picking at something on the nest. They are 7 and 8 weeks old already and I'm expecting to see them practicing their flying and leaping up and down starting this next week. Their nest looks small in comparison to the other eagles.

I counted five turtles basking in the road, and I stopped for a few of them and pushed them off to the side of the road so they didn't get hit.

At nest 5 only one twin was visible, and I wondered if the other fledged.

The puddle with all the tadpoles was dried up when I passed by today. My heart goes out to all the lives that could have been.
It makes me wonder why a toad would lay their eggs in water that is that shallow to begin with, when only a few hops away their offspring would have had at least a 50% chance of survival.

I stopped to photograph and video tape the lives in a ditch pond. There was a huge bull frog calling out, who, unlike Gold Eyes, allowed me close to photograph him, and there was a leopard frog across from him. As I filmed those frogs I noticed
a five spotted fishing spider with its legs spread out and leaving little dimples on the water surface. These spiders grow quite large, I've seen them almost the size of my hand, and they scare a lot of people, but I've never had a problem with them trying to bite me.

I've seen them diving down and coming up with a minnow, or a tadpole. This one today must have been waiting for his opportunity, or he knew he had four frog eyes on him and that was his reason for remaining so motionless.

Victory Bell was up on nest 3.

I found the father eagle for nest 4 sitting high in a dead tree with his wings open and his beak open to keep cool. When he flew
back to his nest a male red-winged blackbird dove at him, and pecked his head.

I went to the whirlpool that the flood created to see if I could find those snakes again today in some good light. I didn't find any though, which makes me wonder if I had found a den at all, or did I happen upon a snake that had just given birth? Which is really early for most species, and that doesn't explain the garter snake that was with them either.

I didn't go to far before finding a pile of turtle eggs that had been dug up and eaten down to the last drop of yolks. There were
about twelve eggs from what I could tell. I felt around to see if there were any others that were missed, but to tell you the truth, I wasn't real comfortable sticking my hand in any hole near where I'd found those unidentified snakes.

Do you remember me telling you about the short-nose gar that I saw being tossed up on the swirls of the whirlpool?
I found two of them dead up on the shore. Maggots crawled in and out of their decaying bodies along with a a horde of
beetles who specialize in cleaning up our shores.

I wonder how many fisherman fishing those marshes and streams know that they are full of short-nose gars with razor sharp teeth?

I hiked out to nest 1 and found the twins hungry and crying up on the nest. I'll close today's story with my experience.

Tonight, with little warning it happened.

A prayer answered. A long-awaited promise, answered in a way, well I
think somewhere it is written, well, here it is: "My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27) Tonight I believe I had one of those leadings in a way that only the Lord can speak.

There I was sitting at the eagle nest 1, my main nest for these past 4 years when suddenly, strong winds blew in from the west and then the east. Without warning I found myself in a whirlwind of grass chaff and seeds plastering my face, blowing dust in my eyes while debris blew across the black skies that covered the blue.

At first it was just leaves being carried on 40-50 mph winds, then small leaves attached to their branches. I wasn't sure if I was sitting where an invisible tornado was forming, or if the winds were just playing tag before sunset. I watched as the eaglets stood up against the winds, beating their wings as if challenged by them. Within seconds the temperature dropped from 85 to low 70s, or so it seemed.

A light rain followed, but not enough to discourage my wait.

I sat through a second shower, and even stronger winds, but I wasn't going to budge.

The father eagle came in and delivered dinner to his hungry twins who mauled him, forcing him back to flight. In fact, he flew so fast that as I dragged my shutter, panning on him -- he blended in with the winds and was barely visible at all.

From the looks of the skies, I gave up believing tonight would be the night, and decided to call it a good day and began my hike out, back to my truck.

I was almost to my truck when a burst of light poked out of the clouds, and it winked at me. All of a sudden, the rain came down, sprinkling at first, turning into a light shower. As I stared to the west, and watched the backlit rain falling, the winds turned my head to the east, towards the nest a quarter mile back.

Without further hesitation I dropped my gear, threw it all to the ground taking only what I could carry during a fast run back through the ten foots grasses, over the fallen stumps and to the promise I was sure I would have one day, if I was just patient.

If I didn't give up.

If I waited through every storm.

If I trusted Jesus.

As I ran through the rain I had the sudden realization that for every tear I ever had shed I was now enduring my own personal shower. But without the showers, without the sun, there would never have been a race back to the eagles I have loved all these years.

When I arrived back to where I had just left, I discovered through my new tears that God is faithful, and he gave me a sign as his promise.

I would never have expected . . .

. . . there would be a tall, wavering cottonwood tree planted by the river, in a place that I sometimes have called my valley of
the shadow of doubt.

But there it was, a tree with two eaglets and even more unexpected was the mother eagle who flew right through the sky bringing in food for her eaglets, and those of you who know me, know how dear that mother
eagle, Daedee, is to my soul.

But I assure you there has never been a flight such as this not in the four years I have spent there waiting. As the eaglets cried out their ear-piercing screams, hunger cries like never before, they were announcing their mother eagles presence as she flew across the valley, over the river of life, pushing all doubt and any chance of shadows aside.

I had but seconds to choose, video or stills, and as I hit record on my video camera Daedee flew right through the double rainbow and to her little ones cries.

I wish I could share that video with you right now, but maybe, one day God will help me get this video of these God-created eagles lives ready, and made for public viewing.

Of course, that's another promise--and another rainbow in time.

Well, I just thought you might enjoy hearing a true story from a gal who sits with the eagles--eagles that were at the end of my rainbow--far better and worthy than any pot of gold.

May God bless you all.

I'm looking forward to day 165.

See you on the journey--


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