Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 189, Tuesday, 7/15/08, Year Four Dancer & Daedee: Snow Falling on Eagles

Hello Eagle Friends,

It was a hot, humid day in the valley with temperatures topping 90 while I was in the field.

I found no activity on nest 7.

I hiked out to nest 1 and found the nest completely empty and that was a lonely feeling when I have been with one eagle or another since the start of this project out her daily.

I stood there in the silence looking up to the clear blue skies and found my eye drifting back to the dark empty nest. I hiked down to the river with a trail of chiggers following me.

I found myself in a silent prayer, "Lord, give me all the nettles and thistles you can grow, but please keep the chiggers for yourself."

Those invisible little bugs that find their way under your clothes where they bit all along the tightest grips of your clothing leaving you itchy, hard to reach welts that
inch for days.

I think I love ticks more than the chiggers.

As I was standing there watching the grasses slightly bending from the 1 mph gusts, I heard a familiar, "grk, grk and I looked up to find Dancer, the king of this valley in my eyes flying south.

What bothered me was neither eaglet was crying out, or following him which meant they were further down the river than he or I could have thought.

A few minutes passed and I watched Daniels Charlie flying over my head and heading north. His appearance brought on the calls from D'ODEE who I guestimated was about a half mile north in the woods.

I watched as Daniels flew across the river to the other side and soared above the woods joining up with another eagle.

I wondered if that other eagle was Terry Gail. I took several photos but he was too far away and so was the other eagle to tell if it was Terry Gail.

Then as he disappeared a fervent cry came out of the north and it was D'ODEE flying towards the nest. It was the easiest footage I've ever shot in my life. All I had to do was aim at the bird and hit record.

D'ODEE flew in with the grace of a sandhill crane, and with the landing of an elephant on a row of dominoes. For as he landed, branches, limbs, and sticks flew everywhere and the sound effects were crunching and louder than a scene from Journey to the Center of the Earth as the eaglet crashed down through the top of the tree to the security of the bottom of his earth.

I hiked to west post and shot images of him, winded, mouth wide open and panting.
Remember, he's only been flying a few days and that was a big flight for him to make non-stop.

I hiked out after this and moved on to nest 2 where we found Terry Gail again. This time she was feeding on what looked like a fish, a red horse or trout something with a hint of red on its tail fin.

Further up the road Dave asked, "Are those the twin fawns?"
"Yes. They are with their mom. Pull over."

The twins and mom stood in the meadow, but only for a moment before they fled.

When we arrived at nest 6 I found the twins up on the branches above the nest. It should only be another week or so before I see them flying confidently all over the marsh.

The nest 5 twins were at the nest too. I felt pretty fortunate to hit the dinner hour for each nest, but then when you watch the eagles and activities at each nest daily you learn each nests patterns.

There was no activity at nest 3, and for a moment I thought I had found a nest 4 eaglet sitting in a tree by the nest, but when I went in closer I found it was a young great blue heron hunched over with its back to me.

On our drive back some guys were flagging us down. They had been canoing and locked the keys in the first vehicle about 8 miles away, and wanted a ride.

There little girl was holding a small brown animal."Look, I found this mouse floating down the river."

I looked at the dark brown baby vole with barely enough hair to keep him warm in a nest, let alone floating down the river. "He is just a baby. Do you know how to care for him?"

"I do. I'm going to give him formula. His eyes aren't even open, do you think he is a muskrat?"

"No. He's a vole."

We gave her dad a ride back to his car and headed home. "Thanks you guys. That would have been a long, long walk."

With temperatures at least in the mid 90s, I had to agree, especially without a water bottle, or two.

Sometimes helping someone else in need is repaid with blessings that you just know are Heaven-sent.

There we were twenty miles out from Rochester when the temperature gauge starting moving up to the H and the red.

Dave pulled over. "See I knew there was a reason you were supposed to come with today."

"It looks like the radiator hose has a pin hole leak in it."

He started grabbing water bottles out of the back of my truck and pouring them in the dry overflow.

We drove a few miles and the steam poured like a locomotive while we drove down the highway.

We pulled over again. Dave poured more water in the overflow. "It's not taking the water."

The smell was like brown maple cured bacon on a hot grill, or in our case, radiator.

"We'll just have to drive and pull over every couple minutes, what choice do we have, do you want to walk fifteen miles?"

We inches along, mile after mile, stop after stop.

On one of those stops Dave noticed the pin hole leak in the radiator. He let the truck cool and then opened up the radiator which was as good as bone dry.

"Great. I used up all the water in the overflow. Do we have any more?"

I dug through my gear and found two more bottles, and the water that I had in my bottle from hiking.

"That'll work."

I felt better when we hit the edge of Rochester. At least if we had to walk it would only be a few miles.

As we pulled in the driveway to our house I turned to Dave and said, "See, it's a good thing I'm doing this eagle project, otherwise I wouldn't have had all that water in my truck."

I'm looking forward to day 190.

See you on the journey--


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