23 June 2008

# 121 - Bald Eagle

Today my heart raced at the sight of a bird, which is not a common occurrence for me. I get excited, but this was different.

On the way home from the post office Lily, Avery and I were driving across the South end of the Coddle Creek Reservoir when I spotted a raptor flying across the road. At first glance it appeared far too large to be a hawk, but at the same time much too brown to be a vulture. Intrigued, I slowed way down with absolutely zero regard for the motorists behind me. Thankfully, there were none. as we passed one of the little coves just West of the dam I craned my neck left and saw the bird perched on a tree limb. With nowhere to stop and a curve coming up in the road, I had to look away, but my initial instinct was "eagle". We found a spot to turn around, hustled back and pulled in to one of the turn-outs between guard rails. With all of my gear packed for our trip to New York tomorrow I reached for a cheapo pair of binoculars I keep in the glove compartment for emergencies such as this one. I walked dangerously close to the road and pulled focus, and I was thrilled when my hunch was confirmed. It appeared to be an immature Bald Eagle, although I couldn't be 100% sure.

With my internal clock ticking like a time bomb on a Wil-e-Coyote cartoon I raced home to get the girls lunch and Lily down for her nap. Without so much as a good-bye I told Mandi I was taking Avery on a pilgrimage to photograph the bird, and we were off. We got back to the same turn-out in what seemed like no time, and to our surprise the bird had moved closer to the road and politely turned toward it, as if to make himself a better subject for my photos. I snapped about 2 dozen shots, and did everything I could to get him to take off for an aerial view, but he was not feeling that. Regardless, I got some really good looks at him, and I'm excited to be able to definitively say that it was a 2nd year Bald Eagle. There's obviously no way to tell from this distance whether it was a male or a female, but that's neither here nor there. Here are a few of the best shots I got of him. Happy birding, I'll be posting throughout the week from New York, where I hope to visit Sapsucker Woods and Montezuma NWR.

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