Friday, December 14, 2007

The Hawk's A-Comin'

Just heard on the news, we're looking at up to an inch of ice tomorrow and Sunday.

Our power always goes out, even in far less drastic weather.

Might be a cold, cold weekend.

Glad I got that firewood.


Later edit: Oh! Forgot to say! I saw a bald eagle today, at a distance of about 30 feet. I was driving along Hamilton Station Road, minding my own business, when it came swooping magnificently over a pasture, picked up a small rodent in its talons, and flew impassively off in the direction of the river, where it no doubt nests. I've only seen one other bald eagle in the wild, a few years ago, also near the Potomac just downstream from Harpers Ferry, but it was much farther away.

Earlier this year, in the spring, I watched dumbstruck as a red-tailed hawk flew just over my road with a blacksnake writhing in its talons. I wondered if I'd just fallen into a bad symbolist novel. A-and then there was that gigantic owl that swooped through my yard one dusk this summer. Too dark for me to get a good look, but it was huge.


Decatur Dem said...

Unbelievably cool!
I hear that in parts of Alaska eagles are so common that they are regarded as pests, but here east of the Mississippi it's a rare treat.
My wife and I will wake each other up if we hear an owl outside the window in the night. I still remember the Great Horned Owl who took up residence on the Emory U. quadrangle in the 1970s, and could be seen in the middle of the day perched majestically 30 feet above the sidewalk.

Neddie said...

I just remembered that a few years ago, back at our old place, we drove into our driveway on a day when it was pissing down cold, cold rain, and there on our fencepost was a rough-legged hawk. He was completely impassive, perched there; I remember watching water drip off its beak. They're incredibly rare here, but the Audubon book does say they do venture as far south as Virginia. Thing was enormous, maybe two-and-a-half, three feet tall. Stunning.

Anonymous said...

How lucky you are!! I just saw my first definate sighting of a bald eagle myself last week.... It was a pair, actually, perched high atop a power tower right along Route 30 going into Lancaster,PA. I was so excited I went inside the WaWa and blurted it out to a very nonplussed crowd.... Apparently the couple hangs out there a lot... And Lucky Neddie, because to see a bird of prey scoring or having just scored a meal is a very rare sighting indeed!!! That is stuff to write home about!!
I was lucky enough in my youth to have seen an occurance that was just lectured upon in middle school Biology class.... Though earthworms are hermaphroditic, they occassionally "conjugate" to mix up the gene pool.... Don't you know the very next morning a warm, rainy April day, waiting for the bus, I spy a couple...well...uh, doin' IT!!! A rare real life Bio lesson! (OK it was worms, but really cool, none the less!)

mac said...

About four or five weeks ago I waded downstream from the Route 7 bridge to try my luck for Smallmouthed Bass. No fish, but I did see three!!! Bald Eagles swooping along the river. They stayed together as a group. Quite a sight. Perfect fishing trip.

Will Divide said...

We get our ideas of owls from cartoons. When I saw my first sitting in a tree in Knox, Co., Ohio, it looked to be about the size of a german shephard.

There's a red tailed hawk that sometimes hunts in the small back yards of my nabe here in Chicago, a big bird compared to the regulars.

And 'Wawa', pardon me if I pass along common knowledge, is what Indians in New England once called the wild goose.

Anonymous said...

Bald eagles have made a comeback along the Mississippi River, especially down around the widening of the river called Lake Pepin. When I've driven down there in the past several years, I've typically seen seven or eight of them. A barn owl roosts in the spruce tree next door here in Minneapolis. Nine swans flew low right in front of my car one day, coming in for a landing on Lake of the Isles. And last summer, as I sat in the car listening to NPR, a redtail swooped down and nicked a gray squirrel. Squirrel escaped, but I bet he was nursing his cuts for a long time afterward. All these things except the eagles happened in the city, and I've seen eagles on the Mississippi in the city as well. The delight of seeing such wild creatures within ten minutes of downtown Minneapolis is beyond measure.

David said...

While canoeing in northern Ontario a few years ago up north of Thunder Bay I was amazed to see bald eagles every day, and lots of 'em. Also pelicans and cormorants. I grew up not so far from there and never knew any of those birds summered so far north.
Birds of prey pt. 2 : A few years ago I was walking on the mountain here in Montreal with my dear departed Griff, an Airedale / Shepherd cross. He was ahead of me in some heavy brush looking for rabbits and couldn't be seen except for the rustling of leaves. From the branch of a maple high above a hawk saw the movement and dove, arriving just as the 85 lb Griff emerged into the daylight. It still makes me laugh thinking about that poor bird going from overdrive into panicked reverse with Griff lunging up at him...

J. Andrew Boyle said...

Not that I know much about birds, right Ned?

We have a pair of Bald Eagles that nest every Winter in the cemetery a few blocks down the street. One day I had the pleasure of one of the birds flying in carrying in a catfish.

It landed right in the tree in front of my car and let me step out and take shots. It was one of my favorite set of photos when I finally propped up my first web pages:

They are back again this year. Eagle populations are on the increase in Florida despite further encroachment by developers.

Speaking of owls, we just banded some Barn Owls and during the Christmas Bird Count in St. Pete this weekend I got my first shots of a pair of Great-horned Owls.

The story is here:

...but you can just scroll down past my text to see the owls.

Raptors and owls are, as Neddie says, stunning. Especially up close.

Hope I am not breaking any blog rules by providing links. Mr. Jingo is the main event. Just providing some illustration!

Neddie said...

Hope I am not breaking any blog rules by providing links.

Don't be silly, Andy. Those photos are great!