Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bald Eagle Sighting

ORN:  20.2 miles, 3:40:10, 10:54/mile, R/W 4/1

What an awesome surprise!!  I headed out the door just after 8 this morning on a 20 mile training run in sunshine and temps in the low 30s.  I decided to run two different 10 mile out and back routes from my house.  The first loop was down Our City's Single Hill to the Wabash River and back.

Around mile 4.5, on the trail approaching the river, I met a couple of fellow runners running away from the river who told me excitedly "You gotta see the eagles!"  And as I came around a turn, there they were.  Three adult bald eagles, perched high in the trees overlooking a lagoon off the river, hoping for a tasty breakfast.

Closer to their perch was bird watcher with a camera and huge telephoto lens.  I stopped and chatted with him.  He was waiting for them to swoop down to fish and get some action photos.  "They are very patient birds," he told me, smiling, "so I need to be patient as well."  He focused his big lens on one of the eagles and invited me to look at the magnificent bird.

Wow.  It filled the frame and, with no leaves on the trees, we had a clear view of the eagle, proud and alert, looking every bit the regal creature it is.  It was inspiring.  We chatted a bit more and I continued on my run, beaming.

About 15 minutes later, I had hit my turnaround spot and came back to the lagoon.  My patient friend was still there and we chatted again.  Just then, two of the three eagles spotted something and sprang from their perches.  Swiftly, purposefully they descended and circled, wings spread wide, tails precisely steering the approach to water's surface, to snag their unsuspecting prey.  No more than 20 yards from us as they came to the surface, we had a terrific view and patience was rewarded with some terrific images.

This is not his image, but this is sure what we saw...the hunter, in full aerodynamic control, talons bared, eyes intent, skimming the water, getting its prey.  The two birds then circled the lagoon again and resumed their high perch.  Patient again.

It was thrilling, magnificent.

We are fortunate to have some 20-30 bald eagles now resident along the 15 mile stretch of the Wabash River centered on our fair city.  I've seen them several times before but never so close.

What a treat.  And one of the wonderful "fringe benefits" of getting outdoors and running, year round.

Oh yeah, the run also went well...test #5 of 6 passed.

But how do you top a personal view of a bald eagle's flight???

Persevere...and be patient.



Josh said...

I had the same pleasure last week when running on my home trails of Eagle Creek in Indianpolis. I knew there were some resident winter Bald Eagles and got my first sighting of two adults. It was inspiring and made the run on that super cold day well worth it.

Wes said...

glad I'm not a fish in them parts :-)