Learning Through Observation

At one time in our lives, possibly quite a long time ago, we were all infants. We all started out that way. Even before we became consciously aware of our five senses we began observing and learning. Webster’s Dictionary lists “notice” as a synonym for the verb “observe”. Indeed observing and learning are almost synonymous as well. And not all observation is done through our eyes as we can notice new things with each of our senses. We learn as we taste, feel, smell, hear and see the world around us, but almost all sighted creatures rely most heavily on what we observe with our eyes. And it was my eyesight that I relied on last Tuesday.

April Fool’s day is often full of surprises. I began the morning with a nice, albeit somewhat anticipated, surprise. Just before 9 AM I was parked along Eastwood Lake observing the aerie 1/2 mile away. As I watched the silhouetted tree, Cindy flew into the nest to watch over the eaglet(s) and Jim soon departed.

Jim departs the aerie.

Jim departs the aerie.

Now I have been watching them long enough to know that when a parent is relieved from brooding duties they often enjoy a short period of flying and wing-stretching before returning to the well field. A few minutes later as I was standing in the gusty winds meeting with a MetroParks ranger regarding a lake-usage issue, I noticed Jim flying west along the far side of lake.

Heading west in the distance.

Heading west in the distance.

By the time our brief meeting had ended, Jim had left the park and was now beyond the high-tension towers west of the lake, heading towards downtown Dayton.

Natural beauty beyond the manmade ugliness.

Natural beauty beyond the manmade ugliness.

Previous observations had taught me that Jim was patrolling his domain. As he was heading west along the lake he wasn’t circling over the water looking for fish nor was he paying any real attention to the flock of 40 or so American Coots near the lake’s southern shore. He was searching the trees as he flew, looking for any wandering eagles that may have paused in his territory. Previous observations had also taught me that he would soon return. When there are young eaglets in the nest, the adults seldom venture very far from home and are rarely gone for very long. So I sat and I waited. After about 10 minutes I observed him flying just beyond those power lines and returning to the lake.

Coming home again.

Coming home again.

Now that he was more content with the status of the security of his domain and less intent on getting somewhere, he made a few slow circles high above the lake. Another lesson that I have learned from previous observations is that Jim was most likely a bit hungry and sometimes that means that he may fish the eastern-most end of the lake before returning home. As I headed east to try to position myself along his projected flight path, the gusting winds pushed my car along. Just as I parked and started to open my car door I looked up and found that Jim too had allowed the tailwind to move him along. He was now just overhead. I shot the following images through the open window trying unsuccessfully to steady the lens in the high winds. Although the bright sunlight reflecting off his white feathers was more than my unfiltered lens could handle and the camera was obviously vibrating in the wind and therefore blurring the images, the moment was thrilling. (If you have ever enjoyed the experience of watching an eagle soaring in the sunlight, then you know how the white flash of reflected light can momentarily serve as a beacon in locating the bird high in a blue sky.)   After one low circle he apparently saw nothing in the water and headed back to the well field.

Searching the waters.

Searching the waters.

Mastering the wind.

Mastering the wind.

Simply thrilling.

Simply thrilling.

Observation leads to learning. I observed much that day. It was interesting to see how rapidly Jim could fly into the strong headwind and masterfully take advantage of a tailwind. His wingtips and tail moved constantly while his head barely bobbled at all. But maybe I wasn’t the only one making observations on that blustery April’s Fools Day. Maybe the joke was really on me. Maybe Jim was busy observing how he could make that silly man in the gray car zip from one end of the lake to the other. Maybe, just maybe, we were both learning through observation.

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Published in: on April 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm  Comments (8)  

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Always enjoy reading and seeing the pictures of Jim & Cindy.

    Thanks for taking the time & sharing.

    Tracy Crabtree

  2. Oh Jim……another fine blog about our resident eagles. And how fortunate you are to be able to observe their comings and goings. And we’re even more fortunate to be able to see and hear about them through your pics and writings! Fortunate indeed! Love all of it! Till next time……God bless and happy eagle watching!

  3. The pictures of Jim are beautiful!!! He is so majestic and proud. With the blue sky as your back drop, I think he is posing for you!!!! The thrill you must get each time you see Jim or Cindy that close has to be breath taking!!! Thanks for all you do!!!! Polly.

  4. Thank you Tracy. There is so much yet to share.

  5. Thank you Opal. I am blessed beyond measure and I deserve none of it. At times His love just carries me away on eagle’s wings.

  6. Thank you again Polly. My heart soars to new heights with every encounter.

  7. I know exactly what you mean Jim! His love is AWESOME!

  8. Beyond measure Opal.


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