wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Great Blue Heron

Blue herons don’t have a dark patch on their shoulders, but this one does. I think something (like an eagle) tried to grab him and he got away. Not unscathed, but he’s alive.

I once saw a heron circle around and around, going higher and higher, until he was nearly out of my sight. In the airspace below him, an eagle was doing his best to climb higher as well, to get at the heron. I think herons must have lighter bones and probably a lighter body in proportion to the wings. They can outdistance eagles  and stay very high up in the air until the danger has passed.

I suspect that this one was caught napping and was attacked at ground level. Somehow he managed to escape the eagle’s clutches, and he lived to tell about it.


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Under the Double Eagle

I was looking for a glimpse of a great blue heron who once visited this marshy area. This is him about three years ago.

No luck. Just a lot of bullrushes and mist.

Two eagles about half a mile away, reminded me of a poster I saw in the 70s, of two vultures sitting in a snag, looking down at the ground, waiting for something to die.

The caption said, “Patience, my ass! I’m gonna kill something.”

But they were definitely eagles, not vultures.  I zoomed in and tried for a shot but it was really far away. Still, I could see that the smaller one was a mature bird while the bigger one was not. They don’t generally get the white feathers on their head until they are in their fifth year. Since the female birds are usually larger than the males, I thought this might be a case of a father and daughter having a conversation.

 

My daughter you’re a big girl now,

No boyfriends will I yet allow,

But soon you will be old enough,

Make sure the man you choose is tough.

 

The world out there can be quite harsh,

But keep your eyes upon that marsh,

A crippled bird might try to hide

Behind the rushes at the side.

 

Be careful when you swoop to kill,

Stay safe so you can eat your fill,

Don’t let the rushes tangle you

And hurt your wings, or that you’ll rue.

 

I see the heron stalking frogs,

Just at the back behind the logs.

When you fly down he’ll get a scare

And hurry to get out of there.

 

He knows that we could tear him up,

And then on heron we could sup,

But he’s a watchful kind of guy,

And he can soar up very high.

 

A heron circles in the sky

Much higher than we eagles fly,

Except for that, he’d be our meal,

You must forget him, no big deal.

 

For now we’ll take the sickly duck

That’s hiding in that swampy muck,

And we’ll be doing him a favour

As we both enjoy his flavour.

 


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Eager Eaglet Looking for Dinner

You might say, “The eagle has landed.” This one came down for a visit in my back yard.

 

Young and eager,

Food is meagre,

Desperation makes him brave.

 

Meals are sparing

Without herring,

Times of plenty he does crave.

 

Taking chances,

Searching glances

May result in other fare.

 

Tiny doggies,

Little froggies,

He’ll eat either, doesn’t care.

[No eagles allowed inside the yard.]

Here comes Emma,

Oh dilemma,

So ferocious she can sound.

 

Eaglet leaving

Or be grieving,

Emma’s a tenacious hound.

 

Snobby puppy

Getting “uppy,”

“Don’t go calling me a hound.

 

I’m a spaniel,

Read the manual,

Guard the neighbourhood around.”

[Hi, I’m Tiny Tony!]

“He might set

His hooks in yet,

If he grabbed Tony, I would cry.

 

Did you see

The eagle flee

Because I barked and made him fly?”

 

[Don’t worry, Tony. I’ll take care of you.]


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Bird’s Eye View

I looked out at the sunny (cold) day this morning. Someone else was also looking. Do you see him at the top of the fir tree? It’s a good place to spot potential targets for food — maybe a crippled duck, or some small creature in a field, or even a  victim of overnight road kill.

I stepped out onto the deck and took about 30 wiggly photos. I leaned against a deck post and tried 20 more. Finally I managed to get a photo that was recognizable, if not sharp. The camera has a 43X zoom so this is the best it can do without a tri-pod. I often wish for a BIG telescopic lens but then there is the weight to consider. Also, these subjects don’t often hang around long enough for me to get set up.

But we can see his “eagle eye” and the sharp tearing beak. It must be breezy up there, judging by his feathers being ruffled on the windward side.

It is a lean time of year for the eagles. They work hard to find some unsuspecting, usually sick or starving, bird to feed on. But soon, the herring will be coming close to the beach to spawn, and then the eagles will be “living off the fat of the land” (and sea).


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Eat or be Eaten

A few days ago when the snow came down hard and heavy, I felt sorry for the birds, as I always do when the weather makes their lives hard to bear. But I had forgotten that not only do some birds — the weak, the injured, and the unlucky — have a hard enough time finding food, but they have to beware of becoming food for other birds.

The forested patches near our house are home to many bald eagles. Because the ocean is nearby, it is ideal for them, especially now as herring time draws near.  But until the herring fishery begins, the eagles take advantage of the suffering of other bird species. They are especially fond of snatching seabirds from the water or the beaches.

Out in my backyard, under one of the firs that the eagles love to use as their dining room, I found, discarded, a wing that had been stripped of all meat. My guess is that it was from a loon, as these seem to be one of the eagle’s favourites. I have found several loon carcasses under the dining tree in the past. For the photo, I have put a pop can beside the wing to show the relative size.

In the animal world it still goes that you must “Eat or be eaten.”


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Regal Eagle at the Deli

Sometimes when I drive by this tree at the side of the estuary, it is loaded with bald eagles, decorating it like so many Christmas tree ornaments.

Today there was only one eagle — an immature one at that. The rest were busy foraging below the tree  and up the river mouth at the Regal Eagle Deli. The last putrefied chum salmon lie like wet paper towels on the banks, exposed by the dropping tide.

Perhaps this one had eaten his fill and couldn’t stomach one more mouthful of rotten fish.

“Oh rats!” he says. “Another bird watcher.”

“I’ll give her my Exorcist pose – body facing one way, head looking the other. That’ll confuse her so she won’t know which is front or back.”



“Now, where was I? Oh yeah … urp … trying to digest that disgusting fermenting fish.”

Regal eagle looks for food, 

Fish again? Not in the mood.

Chilly air, he shivers high

In the tree so he can spy

Rotten fish washed up below.

Better eat in case of snow.

Leaner times around the bend,

Need to eat or life could end.

Though he’d like fish still alive

Choosy eagles don’t survive.


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Large Flakes?

Looking out the window this afternoon, I saw huge snowflakes. Or were they leaves? But they were floating so easily, like snow. More and more flakes came down, and yet, not enough to say, “It’s snowing,” and besides, it was just a tad too warm. Something didn’t feel right. I went to investigate.

I picked up some of the “snowflakes” and saw that they were feathers. They kept falling from the sky. I thought of the German folk tale about Frau Holle who shakes the featherbeds (goosedown duvets, in our modern western world) in the sky and makes it snow.

I traced the path of the feathers to their origin and strained my eyes to study the top reaches of a fir tree. For a few minutes I saw nothing, but at last I made the culprit nervous.

A huge eagle took off from the tree with its dinner in its talons.

I knew from the feathers that the eagle’s meal was a duck. The harsh reality of  life and death in the animal food chain always leaves me with mixed feelings. Both are beautiful birds, but why does one have to eat the other? Couldn’t they just eat pancakes instead?