Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day 158, Saturday, 6/14/08, Year Four Dancer & Daedee: Snow Falling on Eagles

Hello Eagle Friends,

Today was the first sunny day to hit 80 degrees in the valley in a long time, perhaps the first time this year. Rochester was 82 degrees when I left.

I found no activity at nest 7 today, except for more turkey vultures above the bluff.

I hiked out to my post at nest 1 and found D'ODEE up on the nest looking down at me. I saw Dancer fly over and do a nest check which caused the eaglets to cry out.

Tomorrow D'ODEE will join Daniels Charlie at nine weeks of age. It hardly seems possible that all this time has passed with so much still to learn from these magnificent brown feathered creatures.

As I sat there watching the eaglets, and the sun beginning its descent over the highest bluffs, I heard a stomp, but the second time I thought it was a car door getting slammed shut on the highway. A few seconds later I heard, "Wssp. Wssp. Wssp."
I knew something was about a foot away on the other side of the 6 foot grasses.

The next thing I saw was the doe's white tail rise above the grasses before I even finished standing up to see who was visiting my four foot circle in hundreds of acres of grasses. I wonder why this doe stays so close to me, every day where ever I go, so does she. I wonder if she's the same doe from last year, the one with the triplets following her same paths.

D'ODEE stood up and began flapping his wings across the nest as Daniels Charlie watched.

I went back over to my south post to watch for the parents, hoping to get a shot of them bringing in the food.

The bright yellow colors of a one half inch long beetle caught my attention, so I did a few close up shots of him.

I moved on to nest 2 where I found 9 week old Terry Gail up on the nest preening and calling out for her parents. Then she went into the nest and began feeding herself, taking bites off an unknown food source.

At nest 6 the haze was covering the nest, but I managed to get a few shots of the eaglets up on their nest. The gnats and mosquito hatch was something of a challenge to avoid.

On my way to nest 5 I found a huge painted turtle sunning himself on the shoulder of the road above a ditch filled with flood water. Who but God knows, maybe he washed up from another pond. He looked so content, can you see the peace in his eyes?
This turtle was about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide, but it was so thick, I thought at first pass it was a Blanding's turtle.

I figure he is probably 15-20 years old, if not more.

At nest 5 I picked some milkweed leaves for my daughter's monarch caterpillars and I happened to pull off the top of another plant that had two more caterpillars. She shares my love for the monarchs and like most children loves to watch the caterpillars grow up.

The twins were up on the nest but again they were blocked by the haze of the humidity. There was something stirring in the marsh and then it stopped right in front of me. It was a good sized muskrat, eyeing me cautiously from behind the tall grasses.

Poppa, the father red-winged blackbird and his other female mate were attending their nest. I don't know how their nest didn't get flooded, maybe they built that one up a little higher.

As I neared nest 3 there was an odd looking object standing 4 feet high, dead center in the road ahead of me. It turned out to be a branch with numerous Mountain Dew cans hung on it. The road was washed out about 8 inches below the highway from the flood. I thought it was very ingenious and kind that someone had stopped and taken the time to mark it with reflective
cans so evening motorists would catch a glimpse of it and avoid that part of the road.

The water had receded back into the marshes, with huge gouges in the roads' shoulder leaving their mark, along with a raccoon who stamped his one footprint into the wet sand.

I shot images of nest 3s Victory Bell up on the south side of his nest, and I could barely find nest 4. There was a chorus of bull frogs in the flooded ditch on the other side of the highway and I wondered if that frog missed Gold-Eyes, the bog frog as much as I did.

There was a family of goslings on the back waters of the marsh by nest 3. Their gosling's adult plumage was coming in through the baby down.

I looked down to his floating bog, which was covered in duck weed and other plant debris, but I didn't find him. As I was picking up my cameras to move on I noticed a flash of yellow, black and blue. I kneeled down to a one foot long puddle to find
a blue gill sunfish gasping for air in the warm 1 inch deep puddle, barely covering his gills.

He had a gash on the upper side ripped deep into his back, and hardly a chance for survival. He died by the time I finished
shooting the damselflies at sunset.

On my way out I found the Marsh 1a and 1b families sitting on the edge of the marsh, but the scene I liked most was the reflection of the father Marsh 1a goose in the sunset on the marsh.

I'm looking forward to day 159.

See you on the journey--


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