Michael's Rediscovery of Nature

Ramblings and observations of a former biologist and a lifelong naturalist, who has recently returned to his roots in east Texas. After a many years of working from coast to coast in an industry far removed from biology, it has been a pleasant change of geography, activity, and attitude. No stressful job decked out in a three piece suit. No city living. Instead there is a rediscovery of the woods, of something scurrying through the leaves, of the clear notes of a bird call, and of reliving the joy that I had when nature was a playground and a classroom.

I Saw the Greatest Nature Show Ever (And Not on TV)

I have always been a big fan of nature shows on TV. My DVR records them daily. This morning I got to see the greatest nature show that I've ever seen. My DVR didn't record this one, but it is recorded where it will never be forgotten.

Many of my mornings start sitting in a comfortable chair about thirty feet from the edge of Lone Star Lake, my binoculars on my chest, a cup of coffee on the picnic table beside me, and my camera in my lap. It certainly was not an ideal morning for photography with cloudy, overcast skies but you can't choose the weather. 

This morning I was watching as a couple of Double-crested Cormorants flew by. Then the season's first American Coots showed up. The usual neighborhood birds were feeding on my feeders and calling from all around.

BaldEagleFeeding101918 12I continued to scan the skies for other birds for lately it has been interesting with the Osprey, in particular, who is a daily visitor and, of course, there are Bald Eagles fairly often. The Belted Kingfishers often fly past. Now and then a migrating species flies by. It is a great way to start the day.

I was watching a Great Blue Heron on the dock unsuccessfully trying to catch a fish. Off in the distance, movement caught my eye. Far out on the water, in the dim light, I could see two spots of white circling against the backdrop of the pine trees across the lake. Looking closer, I could see that the two bits of white were the tail and head of a Bald Eagle.

There was a cover of coots (look it up) beneath the eagle which would circle, then swoop low over them. As it approached the coots would all dive below the water. The eagle would circle back and then hover over the spot where the coots dove. Then, after a minute or so, she would dive straight down as they came back up. She landed in the water several times. Then, with powerful strokes of her wings, she would rise up and begin the process again.

This was a large, fully feathered, adult Bald Eagle in beautiful feather. Size is difficult to certain under the conditions and distance, but my impression was that it was a larger bird and, thus, likely to be a female. For sure, it was so impressive and there is no other word for it other than beautiful.

And now during this outstanding nature show, it is time for a commercial.

I love nature (Surprise) and I was well aware of what a fantastic moment I was witnessing. My view of it was in a rectangular box, not that different in a way, from the TV. Oh, but so much more exciting and moving. The view through my camera with the 500mm lens brought the whole "show" up close and personal. It was one of those moments that I will always treasure. As I was telling a close friend just after this happened - all I can say is "WOW!" just "WOW!" For those who don't understand the joy of moments, I can only say that I'm sorry - sorry for how you are missing out in one of life's true joys. I only wish I could properly show how much fun this was, how moving to see this magnificent creature under these circumstances - especially without the emblem of the Discovery Channel in the lower right corner of the scene.

Back to our regularly scheduled program.

BaldEagleFeeding101918 14The eagle continued her hunt. When the coots surfaced, she would circle then sweep in low. The coots would again dive and she would circle, get a little higher over the spot where they dove, then hover.

I didn't know eagles would hover like that but they do and it is so impressive to see that large powerful bird to that. Hey, I learned something new.

After a bit, she would suddenly go head first towards the water and then at the last second, twist so she hit the water talons first. After several misses, she hit hard on one dive and sat still in the water for over a minute. Then she started flapping her wings and slowly raised up out of the water with a coot hanging from her talons.

I watched as she flew towards land a few hundred yards to my right.

BaldEagleFeeding101918 20Let me add a little side note. It was one of those mornings that I nearly didn't go out and sit by the water. It was a little cool, not many birds were visible in the area, I had gotten up a little later than usual, I was thinking how good bacon and eggs might be right then, I already had a mental list of things I needed to do today and should start on soon, etc. Then it turned out to another of those mornings where I was so glad the industrious side lost the battle again.

I'm sure I will watch a nature show or two on TV today as I usually do, but all will pale in comparison to this morning's show. I get those free every day and so can you.

BaldEagleFeeding101918 23

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Wednesday, 21 November 2018
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