East Texas Naturalist Blog

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Eaglet Update - Elusive Sightings

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The Bald Eagle population, including immatures, is definitely active on Lake O' the Pines as we near fall.  We haven't been able to get shots from the water this past rainy month because of the obvious, including those  random outbursts that we've had almost daily. I can attest that there is activity because every time I've had a chance to go on foot to Lakeside Park, Alley Creek, or Hurricane Creek during this time, I've spotted at least one eagle.  From land, they are typically more evasive, so I have lots and lots of hurried shots as they navigate themselves to a place on the lake where I am not.   

One misty morning last week, I got a very distant photo of an immature eagle fishing in Hurricane Creek from Lakeside. They have a way of flying when hunting that is unmistakable.  It was too far away to be a decent image, but it did my heart good to see those massive wings beat above the water, circle, then go down for that split-second grab. Get ready. We have a lot to look forward to this fall around Lake O' the Pines.  

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Eaglet Update - Trying to Stay Cool over Lake O' the Pines

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Eagle Blog Pine Tree
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Trudging in to the backside of Lakeside Park over the weekend, gear in tow. . . I hear the WHOOSH of a pair of very large wings.  Without a second to spare, I am able to grab my camera and get a shot of an immature Bald Eagle as it flies from the tree, sails over Brushy Creek, and crosses over the top of the dam.  High in the frame though it is, I was just lucky to get a focused image.  Can I be sure that it is one of the eaglets we watched as hatchlings to fledglings earlier this year?  No.  Do I believe that it probably is?  Yes!  

We were able to check the island where the nest is last week, and saw one of the parents hiding in the shade of the pine needles.  This insufferable heat is apparently hard on our feathered friends, too.  They are not any more likely than we are to be baking in the hot afternoon sun.  As we watched for a minute, I caught a glimpse of an immature eagle in the dense pine thicket.  As the heat lets up and we transition to fall and all the blessings that come with that marvelous time of year - cooler days being only one of them - I believe we will see our first-year eaglets, Liberty and Freedom, as they soar over this beautiful body of water we are so privileged to call home.  Bring it on.  

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Eaglet Update - Independence

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As we had hoped they would, Liberty and Freedom are staying close to the nest - and to each other - as they gain independence and learn to fend for themselves.  When you look at these big, strong birds, it is hard to imagine that they were hatched the first week of March! 

As immatures, they are harder to spot because they blend into the surroundings easily; what stands out are their very powerful and bright yellow talons.  It has been so amazing to be able to witness the very attentive parents nurturing and watching over these two, and it's encouraging to see the Bald Eagle population increase at Lake O' the Pines. We've had more sightings on the Big Cypress River, as well, which may be one of the positive effects of all the extra water this past year.  

The coolest thing is that Freedom and Liberty will mature and grow and stay in this area, and one day we may be able to watch them raise their families.  In the meantime, we'll share photos as they hunt and soar and thrive over Lake O' the Pines, adding to a community that is simply awe-inspiring!

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Eaglet Update - Flying Lessons

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At last check, both Liberty and Freedom were flying well and becoming independent. In fact, we were able to watch Liberty eat a rather sizeable fish that he'd caught on top of a stump. He pulled and picked at it, and during all of the adjusting to stay atop, he dropped a large portion over the side into the water.  He watched it fall and as he looked around, you could just imagine from the expression what he was thinking!  Meanwhile, Freedom was closer to the nest, and both parents were nearby.  We left for a while, and when we circled back by before sunset, Liberty and Freedom were sitting side by side and shoulder to shoulder, close to the nest. What a heartwarming sight! 

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Michael Mathews
Oh, they grow up fast. I think Liberty looks just like his dad, sans the white feathers.
Monday, 30 May 2016 20:53
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Photos From Today's Limp in the Woods

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Still having gout issues but it was just too beautiful today to stay inside.  So, I put the Nikon D800 on the tripod with the Nikon 200-500 lens, stuck the D3300 with the Nikon 105 Micro in the holster on my belt and limped off the the woods.  

If anyone saw me, I know I must have been a sight to behold with the tripod extended and that big lens hanging down as I very slowly limped to the woods.  You really didn't have to look close to see that it was a bit painful, but I didn't care.  Woods . . . 

I got to my little clearing where I have the lake on one side (under the trees), a small creek in front of me and a path going uphill into the deep woods in front of that.  Nice spot.  I usually just lean back against a big oak tree and before long the birds forget that I am there.  

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