At the beginning of April, I decided to visit the eagles on the river. I had heard that they were back, had added to the nest, and had at least two eaglets. However when I arrived the male was on the nest and no fuzzy baby heads were visible. I amused myself watching the variety of birds arriving at the suet cake some avid birder had placed by the viewing site.
In addition to the suet cake, the birders added a sealed envelope and notebook for people to add dated entries about the eagles. Pretty cool. After standing around for a while listening to the bird gossip– seriously, this is how I learn now– the male eagle started screaming. Mom eagle came back empty-taloned, and then they both screamed about it for a bit. Nature is amazing.
Part of the gossip I picked up was about the owlet in the cemetery.
Bird Woman who showed up with three kids: “I’m taking the kids to see the owlets next.”
Alpha Bird Woman (she is so the one in charge and her camera is massive):”You know it’s branching.”
I recently learned that “branching” is when fledglings take adventures outside the nest. That determined my next stop for the day!
Out of the nest! Boom! At one point a car drove by and his/her little “horns perked up.
Look at the floofers on this dude!
*** I started writing this on April 30 and it’s now June 5. Queen of procrastination! The “eaglets” have now filled out to their juvenile feathers and I need to visit before they leave! I think my master plan with this post was to add in two April adventures. Here goes!
Two weeks later, I took off on an early morning whim to re-visit the eagles. Miraculously, I was the only person in the tiny parking lot! Just me and some eagles.
Me, some eagles, and this downy woodpecker who did not care that I was three feet away.
I wasn’t alone for long and my best shot showed at least one fuzzy head popping up.
Again on impulse, I decided to travel from there across town to another nesting site that I had seen a number of posts about: Pickerington Ponds. Given my current location, I was only 25 minutes away instead of the regular 40.
This park is a cluster of ponds and a bird mecca. I actually saw one of the eagles there land in a field as I drove towards the park entrance.
My first stop yielded lots of small birds, a couple who had no idea where the eagle nest was, and a terrifyingly long water snake.
I was more successful at the next pond. This nest has… probably HAD at this point… 3 eaglets.
Fortunately, it was beautiful breezy day and I spotted a fellow bird nerd in the form of a tiny woman with binoculars and a mission. Not being familiar with the park, I trailed her around the pond to a prime viewing spot for the eagle nest. I am terrified and too paranoid to go into parks alone (Thanks, MomBert?). You’ll never find me hiking by myself; and if you do find me, it’s probably because you are the horribly violent, assault minded creature that I fear lurks on lonely paths. Even being alone on what was an open, sunny, but isolated path would not have happened had it not been for my impromptu adventure buddy.
We chatted about the eagles and our various sightings. I shared my borrowed giant “moonoculars” with her, and she gave me some tips on focusing. Another traveler stopped to talk to us about the eagles and said that he had just passed a giant turtle on the path. I asked what kind it was and he said he didn’t get close enough. I try not to roll my eyes and sigh at people I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure turtles are known for being SLOW.
Me: “Did it look like a dinosaur that wanted to eat you?”
He still didn’t know. From their size and slitted eyes to huge claws and spiked tails, I feel like snapping turtles are really easy to identify. Fuck it. I announced that I was off to see a giant turtle!
When I looked back, Adventure Buddy was behind me on the path. Based on the guy’s directions it took longer to find the turtle than I thought it would, but finally there it was by the path. We both admired it and talked to it about its turtle life choices: “Why are you so far out from mud and water? Do you need a hug? What’s going on with your left eye? If I hugged you and carried you to the pond, would you promise not to bite my fingers off?”
Finally, I asked the really big question: “Have we been taking pictures of a dead turtle?”
The turtle had not visibly moved, blinked, or hissed, and I noticed that there were ants walking in its neck folds. This seemed bad.
Adventure Buddy offered to touch it and we both stepped back like we had found an exploding turtle. She tentatively tapped the turtle booty with the very tip of her tennis shoe, and the turtle immediately rose up about an inch and then went back to its position.
Relieved that we had not been talking to a dead turtle, we backtracked to the eagle nest, spotted an osprey in flight, and totally forgot to tell the park ranger we met about the turtle. Bird brains. Ugh.
Going by units of animal measurement, that was a four eagle one giant turtle day which is a very good day!