A Typical Day Eagle Watching

A day watching eagles is a day spent in nature, and that is a day very well spent. Many of the visitors to this blog may not have the opportunity to ever spend such a day so let take you along on a typical outing to spend some time with our Dayton Bald Eagles.

The adventure usually begins with a gathering of a handful of eagle watchers, each packing their necessary gear: cameras with very long lenses, binoculars, monopods, tripods, coolers, folding chairs and such. Our guiding rule is to do nothing that would disturb or hinder the eagles in any way. Now that the nesting season has drawn to a close the viewing offers a few additional challenges as the eagle’s activity is no longer focused on the nest and they could be anywhere. After we have made our way to a suitable spot we settle in and wait for the eagles to pass our way.

Even in the 90 degree heat the wait is always interesting. The lakes and the nearby river draw animals of all shapes and sizes. Although the activity is greatest in the coolness of the early morning or late evening, even the simmering afternoon hours provide plenty of excuses to make the camera shutters chatter. Belted Kingfishers perch on leafy branches, Great Blue Heron wade along the shore and Little Green Heron dance in the recesses of half-submerged, fallen trees. An Osprey circles hungrily overhead accompanied by a few sea gulls. Each bird is keenly focused on the water in hopes of finding a tasty meal. Various ducks, geese and other waterfowl join them in the search. As we sit and wait beaver, muskrats and mink may be seen in or near the lake. A bullfrog’s baritone aria occasionally floats over the water’s surface from his hiding place in the fuzzy cattails.  Warblers, sparrows, cardinals, robins, red wings, kingbirds and others small birds sing and flit among the nearby trees and bushes. Even a Pileated Woodpecker flies an undulating path through the air, creating flashes of black and white as it flaps its wings. The not-to-distant uproar of, “Caw! Caw! Caw!” alerts us to the possibility that some passing crows have found an eagle, hawk or perhaps a roosting owl in the trees a little beyond or view. And, of course, a funeral procession of circling turkey vultures is never far away.

Then from the distance and just above the treetops we see the unmistakable form of a young Bald Eagle gliding our way. Each of us have just a few seconds to decide if we want to attempt to capture the approaching bird with our cameras or just sit back and take it all in. We almost always opt for the former. As the shutters again begin their insistent chattering the juvenile circle low over the lake once, then twice, and then disappears back behind the treeline. We settle back into our chairs as the wait begins anew.

By now the sun has journeyed to the western sky and the bright sunlight of midday has taken on a golden hue and has made the capturing of a decent image a bit more of a  challenge. But with the dwindling light comes a slight break in the heat and together they usher in a magical moment in nature when the denizens of the night begin to stir. Across the field, a Whitetail doe slowly and cautiously emerges from the dense wood that has provided her with cool shelter during the heat of the day. After a few steps she stops and watches us watch her. Sensing no threat she continues her slow walk towards the refreshing waters of the river. Soon, another young doe and its fawn join her and together they march on across the clearing. At the river’s edge they find two young bucks with velvet-covered antlers already quenching their late day thirst. Silently the ever-cautious bucks inch their way across the shallow  flowing river. On reaching the far bank they too stop and peer our way assessing the situation. Then they slowly seem to evaporate into the brush as the two does follow along with the prancing fawn bringing up the rear. The mother racoon and her three little ones searching under the rocks in the shallows for crawfish, hardly even noticed the Whitetail parade passing by.

Some people would rather spend the evening watching television but I really enjoy spending those hours watching wildlife. Yes there are mosquitos and gnats and the thermostat is out of my control but the action is real and the plot is never contrived. The air is fresh and the fellowship is fulfilling. I am never sure exactly what I am going to see but there are no political ads, no loud commercials and when the show is over, I never feel like I have wasted the hours that I sat watching. Something within us needs the solitude of that communion with nature. We were created to be a part of it all. For me, the best way to watch wildlife is to quietly sit and let the wildlife come to me.

Time spent in nature is always time very well spent.

Published in: on July 19, 2012 at 12:10 am  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Amen… Well said (as usual); can’t wait… again and always!

  2. Beautiful. Thanks for adding to my interest in the eagles. Hope the deer find ;something good to eat.

  3. Very nice Jim.. I am ready to spend more time with the Wild outdoors

  4. another beautiful poetic commentary Jim. sounds like a great way to spend an evening and get away from all the craziness around us.

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