Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘bald eagle

So Close

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For once, I saw it with my own eyes. I was up at the house when I heard a commotion down in the trees toward the chicken coop. Chickens squawking, wings flapping, and a large bald eagle swooping through and flying away. I wasn’t able to tell if it had anything in its grasp.

By the time Delilah and I made it down to check on the chickens, they were all happily pecking away at the grass beside the paddock, …except for one.

A Black Australorp was missing. I thought it was possible she was in a nesting box, but upon opening the access door and finding it empty, my heart sank.

The rest of the hens came over in search of a treat. They were such a tight bunch, it seemed highly unlikely the missing bird was off by herself if she wasn’t in the coop laying an egg.

I made the walk to the barn in woe over the loss. Dang eagle. Funny how we have always been thrilled to see the majestic bald eagle in our midst, but since one has now threatened the lives of our creatures, it takes on a different meaning.

When I opened the door from inside the barn to go out under the overhang and clean up after the horses, my woe turned to elation. That highly unlikely scenario of a lone hen mulling about so far from the rest of the brood had occurred. She was cutely cooing away all by herself in the sand under the barn roof.

It made me wonder if she even knew about the close call that had occurred out in the trees just a short time earlier. I had expected those trees would provide cover to protect the chickens from predators, but obviously, most of that protection disappears along with the leaves.

When we decided to get chickens, it didn’t occur to me that doing so would attract eagles.

I wonder if it will be back to try again. Having spotted the eagle perched across the field earlier in the week, something tells me, yes, it probably will make additional attempts.

After seeing yesterday’s close call, I’m thinking I’d rather not be around when it happens again.

For now, we’ve still got nine hens. I guess we better keep our eagle eyes on them if we want that number to remain.

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Written by johnwhays

November 9, 2018 at 7:00 am

Missed Again

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If you take a lot of pictures, you know what it’s like to miss a shot. Like most things, there are more misses than hits when it comes to the spectacular capture. If you want to nail the perfect picture, beyond some good luck and good equipment, you need a lot of patience.

I came up short on all three yesterday while out on a walk with Delilah. Cyndie wanted me to give our little shepherd a workout to burn off some extra energy, so I strapped on the snowshoes and headed out to pack some of the trails that haven’t been walked since the last snow storms.

Delilah didn’t get the deep snow workout I had intended, because she was just light enough to stay on top of the wind-packed, partially melted blanket of beautiful snow, but I had a plan for that. We would be hiking many routes and doubling back on several of them.

If I can snowshoe both directions, it makes for a better packed path.

The first time we approached the road from our southern fence line, two hawks were up to something, putting on an air show with vocal enhancements that intrigued Delilah greatly.

From there we continued across our driveway and traversed what we call the “north loop” trail that pops out at the big willow tree famous for tripping Cyndie up when she stomped on the rake. Normally, this route would be followed by traveling up the driveway to the house. Delilah was locked into that program to such a degree that my instruction to turn around and head back in the other direction was met with quite the expression of complete confusion.

It’s was laughable, especially because that was quickly followed by a sprint that said, “Let’s do this!”

As we returned to the road from the opposite direction, it wasn’t a hawk that caught our attention, it was a big eagle flying away. With my eyes skyward, the silhouette of another white-headed dark bird perched in a tree was easy to catch. Even though I was limited to what my pocket camera could achieve, I stopped Delilah and tried to zoom in for a photo.

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It didn’t provide much in the way of opportunity, so after a couple shots my attention shifted to Delilah at the end of her long leash in front of me. She was staring across our field, holding a gorgeous pose that was definitely photo-ready.

As I lifted my hand with the camera and my finger reached for the shutter button, I missed and pushed the power to “Off.”

Delilah moved as I fumbled to get the power back on and the spectacular sound of large flapping wings made a couple of snaps into flight. That beautiful bald eagle pushed hard against the air to soar into the sky away from us.

It won’t be the last beautiful photo I just missed.

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Nice Day

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Saturday was a pretty nice winter day on the ranch. Even the chickens –all three!– came out to enjoy the day. To celebrate, Cyndie raided the kitchen for some grapes to reward the occasion of the Buff Orpington venturing a distance away from the coop.

They even veered off the plowed paths into the fluffy white stuff, traveling interestingly close to tracks of an adventurous mouse. Was that coincidental?

I wonder if that little rodent knew who was lurking about when it scurried across the top of the snowscape.

On Friday, while I was splitting wood with Delilah leashed nearby, I spotted her flinch suddenly. Looking up, I caught sight of a beautiful bald eagle floating at a menacingly low elevation, just above the treetops.

I wasn’t too worried about Delilah, but I did wonder where the chickens were at the moment.

The horses appeared to be mesmerized by the warm December sunshine, spreading out and soaking up the solar energy with a contagious calmness.

In a switch from the situation last week, this time it was Legacy who was out in the hay-field all by himself.

We still think he is behaving uncharacteristically distant at times, but there doesn’t seem to be any unnatural anxiety showing from the herd, and periods of normalcy generally rule.

It was a beautiful day and we feel blessed with the luxury of simply enjoying it to the fullest.

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Written by johnwhays

December 17, 2017 at 10:49 am