The Eagle Has Landed

     The eagle has landed – on the ice floes in the river, and I have joined the paparazzi lining the banks in search of a picture. He perches on the ice hunting for fish in the water and lives with his brethren in the nearby trees. People have reported sightings of his massive wingspan while driving along the river road.

For all I know, this could just be a myth, for I’ve never seen a bald eagle, although I hear they like to hang out in the waterfront park this time of year and catch fish.  

They’ve even been known to hitch a ride downriver with the swift-moving current, like surfer dudes trying to catch the big one.       

Surf’s Up!

This quiet park has been frequented this past month by photographers along the shore, tripods and fancy zoom lens in hand, watching and waiting, all eager to get that first photo for the Facebook page.  Apparently, it’s been a good year for eagle sightings, for everyone but me.  

I’ve walked in this park quite a few times the past six weeks and nada…..although the fellow walkers I meet and greet will tell me, “there were nine here yesterday.  Yes – nine!”  A real eagle convention.  My neighbor saw one swooping down right in front of her windshield.  One man told me there were two circling high in the sky, but not to my eyes.  All I saw were seagulls.

Maybe they know which days I walk, and decide to stay home and take a nice long nap in the old nest.

Eagle nests can reach a great size, but usually only have two eggs.  The large nests must support their weight and height, as they can be big creatures, averaging 12 lbs for the female, and 9 lbs for the male, and standing up to three feet tall, with wingspans up to seven feet. They hardly flap their wings, but glide about on the air currents. Both the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs, although the female does the majority of the incubating. They can use the same nest for years, and the eggs hatch mid-April to May. I saw a news video recently of baby eagles in a nest – two cute little balls of white fluff. The young eagles are brown until they are about 5 years, and then develop the distinctive white heads and tails. They are birds of prey, predominately fish eaters, but also small birds and mammals, and not too fussy about the type of carcass – roadkill will do just fine. They are notorious for their sudden dives and grasp their prey with their talons, using the sharp hind toe one to kill. Average life span is about 20 years although they can live longer.

Photo credit to St. Clair County Community newspaper MI

Apparently, there is a nest somewhere, in the trees along the river, whose bare branches would surely make such a sight visible, but again not to me.  The nests tend to be mid-tree in order to support their weight. It must be farther back along the creek which empties into the river.   This is a popular spot for overwintering birds, as an industrial plant discharges warm water into the creek, thus providing a sauna-like atmosphere much appreciated in the freezing cold.  There are plenty of seagulls, more Canadian geese than anyone would ever want to see, and those pairs of mute swan lovers I’ve featured on Wordless Wednesday.   

Eagles are majestic creatures, a symbol of freedom.  My American readers surely know more about them than I do, as the eagle is their national bird, (I really liked that eagle on Lady Gaga’s sweater at the inauguration), whereas we in Canada have the more industrious and ugly-as-hell-rodent – the beaver.   

There’s been very little ice in the river this year.   After a brutal snowy February, we’ve had a relatively mild March, so the ice and snow have all melted now and the photographers have dispersed. The eagles must either be nesting or have gone south for spring break, leaving me with no good reason to visit a park now littered with green geese goop.  There’s always next year….

    700 words seems kind of short for a blog, so I’ll add some art, poetry, and music.    

My mothers art – Bald Eagle – 2014 – on canvas paper
recent version – Bald Eagle – March 2021 – based on a newspaper clipping

I remember studying this Alfred Lord Tennyson poem in grade school:

The Eagle:

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Music: Fly Like An Eagle – Steve Miller Band – 1976

(Eagle stats from Wikipedia and St. Clair County Community Newspaper – MI)

March Madness

March has always been a crazy month – volatile, unpredictable, kind of like the stock market at the moment.   You can expect snow, sleet, rain, howling winds, warm breezes, sunny days, gray skies or all of the above.   Despite the Rodent and Company’s optimistic predictions for an early spring we have not had very many warm days and the few we did have were overcast.   In fact March came in like a lion with a big snowstorm, so hopefully it will go out like a lamb.  (It did not….3 C – 37 F today).

snow

Thankfully, the snow melted quickly, like the wicked witch of the west – revealing snow drops a few days later.

snow drops

I have a lovely view from my kitchen window as my neighbor has about ten clumps of them scattered around the base of an old tree, like a little fairy woodland.

The daffodil shoots were up the first week, growing by leaps and bounds. 

Our imaginations can leap forward to this vista of sunny yellow.

daffodils

On St. Patrick’s Day we had grocery shelves reminiscent of the great Potato Famine, 

empty shelves potatoes grocery store

but a spring rain changed the grass to Shamrock green overnight,

green grass

which was then covered up by more snow on March 23….ugh….

daffodils with snow

This is Spring?

The library might be closed due to COVID-19, 

Library closed

but the crocuses in front of it were open for business.

crocus in front of library

The robins were back,

Robin bird

and the tundra swans crossed the border early because our Prime Minister had ordered all international travelers home!

Tundra swans Lambton Shores

They winter in Chesapeake Bay and rest at the Thedford Bog, an Ontario marshland, before flying on to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. 

The March winds were brisk and perfect for kite flying.   There were rare sightings of children in the park trying this ancient activity, well their dad was trying.   They looked too young and seemed more interested in examining the ground as toddlers like to do, while the dad was busy untangling the string.    (No picture as he couldn’t get it airborne).

Airborne - kites - AMc

“Airborne” by Joni’s mom

I’ve never seen so many people out walking before, entire families have taken up the joy of exercise and their dogs are happy too.   I met Millie a Golden Retriever puppy who was ecstatic at being in The Great Outdoors, but at 12 weeks soon tired of walking and had to be carried home.  

We might be out of bread and soup,

but they will return, just like these old faithful perennials.

Dandelions

These dandelions need to practice social distancing….

On March 25, there was finally a day warm enough to sit on the front porch, sheltered from the wind, with a magazine and a mug of tea.   It’s so nice to feel the sun on your face after a long cold lonely winter (the Beatles).  

lawn chair and Victoria magazine

While the stores and restaurants may be closed and the grocery shelves empty, we can replenish our souls with nature and rejoice!   May the Gods of Spring place a pox on COVID-19!

PS.  As other people have observed, this crisis may be the Earth’s way of healing from all the climate change, by calling a time out – a message from Mother Nature.