Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Piggley Wiggley Red-tails and Jane and Rock Bald Eagle

It all started in the Piggley Wiggley parking lot.
For those not familiar with Piggley Wiggleys, they're a chain of grocery stores. I'd gone in, gotten some groceries, including some frozen items, when my cell rang as I was crawling into the car and I began having a heated discussion.
Suddenly a Red-tail winged through the parking lot heading west. I thought, "Hmmm, where is he going?", while massaging my neck from the whiplash of jerking around to see whether that really was a Red-tailed Hawk. My discussion had degraded by then into the fact I should be heading west on Park View Drive for some shots of the foliage.

West? Hmmm, that's the direction the Red-tail went. It's quite cool outside-- the groceries can live through a few minutes before being put away, right?

I head west.

Scanning the treeline far, far across a very large field, I spy them. And it's a pair! Why are they here in particular?

Then I realize there is a combine clearing the corn field on my side. RODENTS! As a field gets cleared eventually the rodents get spooked and make a break for it and that is where the Red-tails come in.

The male takes off.

Landing in a nearly naked tree a couple of trees over from his mate, north, and looks fixedly into the far field.
About then a station wagon pulls up beside me. A voice says, "What are you looking at?" I turn around and there is a very large friendly man sitting in said station wagon. It turns out that he's a painter. The kind that does bridges, and all sorts of outdoorsy kinds of things that raptors hang out on. He begins to tell me about the falcons in Milwaukee and that leads to the pair of Eagles that nest in Janesville, the next town to the south.
"WHAT?", I squeak, there was an eagle's nest just a few miles away and I missed the whole thing? "Where?"
Then, John and I, we're on a first name basis by then, begin the dance of---"Well just go down to such and such Lumber Yard..."
"Wait, wait, I'm from out of town..." To make a long story short, he volunteers to take me to where the eagles hang out in Janesville by the Rock River, right that minute. (Now there's a real temptation, but I've got all those perishables in the car...)
John turns out to be a very nice man, all 6 feet 9inches of him--he'll wait while I go home and throw the groceries into the fridge and freezer and then he'll show me the way.
I do it and we're off!

And there they are just like he said they'd be. That's Jane on the bottom, named for the town of Janesville and Rock, as it is the Rock River they nest by, on the top.

About then, John, he's the human, remember, gets a call from a friend with car trouble and has to go. But he also says he knows where some Screech Owls roost, I should call him, and then he's gone.
Wow, John is turning into the gold mine of Wisconsin raptor finding help.
By this time Rock has headed out to his usual evening roost tree but I stick with Jane.
Jane is looking down rather fixedly at a group of Geese that are swimming by. I wonder if an Eagle can take on Canada Geese? Most likely as they've been known to go for swans in the air anyway.

Jane then stares at me. Thank goodness, finally some human habituated birds, bless 'em. She at least doesn't mind the scope. Whether Rock minded or not I'm not sure as John says he often goes to the other tree about this time in the evening.

And that's when I realize I can't read an Eagle's face. My face experience with Red-tails doesn't cross over at all, at least not yet, with an Eagle's face. I'd have been able to tell whether it was the scope or just time to move perches were it a Red-tail. Drat.

I then have another thought. To me, an Eagle's face always seems to be expressing fierceness, with a good helping of grumpy thrown in. I'm going to have to work on it.
I realize it is beginning to get dark and this is a rather deserted section of town down here by the lumber yard.
I then see this "thing" at the base of Jane's tree. What it that?

Well? What do you think it is? It's hard to judge the size from across the river, but somehow it seems to be almost human sized. A giant stuffed seal who wears a hat? A bizarro disguise for duck hunting?
Jane is giving me the eye in a way that tells me she's about had enough of me. Or is that just the "grumpy" I see in Eagle faces. At any rate, it is time for me to head out. I'll definitely be making some more visits to the eagles before they take off for the winter. Maybe I'll even be able to see "cheerful" in their faces before they leave.
This is where I had placed the photos for Cheryl Cavert's of Tulsa's update for this evening. Blogger ate them. Not that blogger has eaten he's now become tired... so more from Cheryl in the next post.
Donegal Browne

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