Sunday, December 31, 2006

Eagle sez "Meh. You have my leave to go."

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Holly and I went canoing at Goodale State Park last Friday afternoon. We'd gotten out there late, and the park staff were kind enough to take a break from some serious tree-removal work at the entrance to let us into the park and let us rent a canoe. The lake at Goodale is an old (1830s, if our info is correct) mill pond on Big Pine Tree Creek. Much of the lake is now a cypress swamp, which makes for fun paddling in amongst the trees. We'd been paddling for about 10 minutes when I caught a glimpse of a very large bird taking flight a ways off through the trees. I wasn't sure, but I thought it might have been an eagle. It was just too big to be anything but that or an osprey, but my gut was just saying "eagle." Ospreys are rare enough that seeing one would be a treat, but I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've positively seen an adult bald eagle in the wild.

A few more minutes of paddling brought us pretty close to where I thought the bird had been, and we were also close to the edge of a fairly wide expanse of open water with just a few trees scattered through it. In the distance, in a lone cypress, something big was sitting on a bare branch up at the top. When I got the binoculars on it, it was unmistakeably a bald eagle. After passing the binoculars to Holly so she could get a good look, I went about trying to get a photo to record this critter for posterity. Zoomed to the full extent of my little pocket camera's lenses, I got a great shot of the branches of the trees a few feet from the boat, with a nice eagle-shaped smudge in the background.

So I decided to try digiscoping it, which involves taking a picture through hand-held binoculars. I have trouble getting this to work standing on dry land with a clear shot of my target. Sitting in a rocking canoe drifting back and forth among the trees in the middle of a swamp lent the process a level of additional challenge that can only be described as 'maddening'. But about twenty minutes of wailing and gnashing of teeth and about 10 shots of smudges or trees that have just drifted into the field of view later, and I had two blurry-but-marginal shots and the one above.

It would've been nice if the one good shot didn't look quite so much like America was giving us the cold shoulder.

1 comment:

SerenitySprings said...

That was the first bald eagle I've ever seen in real life so it was nothing short of really awesome for me.