Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My Picture My Story ~ Eagles

My picture my story, eagles, eagle watching, family trips

Back in November I told you that I would be going back through some older photographs and sharing the stories behind them. This one is from March of 2015.

We were hoping to see some bald eagles, in fact, they almost assured us that we would see them. Who were they? They were the DNR staff and conservation officers who were leading this eagle watching expedition. We had registered to go on this trek that started at a State Park about an hour away from our home. It was going to be a stretch of our budget that week to fit in the extra gas we would use, but we all really wanted to go. I had only seen one bald eagle in the wild in my entire life...and to this day Kurt still makes fun of me because I didn't get a photo of it. We were driving along the side of the Mississippi river and I had just put down my camera to pick up a piece of chocolate when it flew in front of our car. Oh well, life is full of tough choices! :)

But today, all four of us were excited about the possibility of seeing live bald eagles in the wild. This was not a zoo trip - this was the real thing! First through, we had to find a parking space. I was a little bit concerned because there were SO MANY cars. They said that the spaces to join the trip were limited, but it sure looked like every single person  milling around had come in their own car. We were parked along a service road outside the nature center because every single space was full, as was the side of the drive to the center. The helpful volunteers let us know we would be just fine and could join the line after the parking lot emptied. So we parked and went inside.

Then there was a short informational meeting, letting everyone know what to expect. Many people raised their hands that they had been on this trip before, but we were not the only newcomers.We would be caravanning in groups. First, to see a bald eagle nest (from across the river where a scope had been set up, so we could see without disturbing them.) We were warned to use the facilities before we left because after the nest site we would be led to the area where we could see the migrating eagles come in to roost. It was a rather remote location, and we would find out later, heavily guarded by the conservation officers, and 15 minutes from the nearest bathroom!

After the short program about birds of prey was over, and we had emptied our bladders, we headed to our car to wait our turn in line. Then off we went, along a maze of country roads to arrive at the eagle's nest viewing area. At times Kurt and I joked that we thought they took the longest and most difficult route possible to get there so no one would ever find it again. :)

Once we stopped and got out to look, we saw the biggest nest I had ever seen. I had heard that eagles make big nests, but it's a little different to hear about a 6' wide nest than it is to see one! Even though it was far away, across the river, I could tell it was massive by how big it was compared to the tree it was in. Then, one of the eagles peeked its head up. Wow!

When our group had all had a chance to look through the scope, and time to use our own binoculars, the volunteer in charge of our section of the caravan rounded us up and took us to the roosting location with these instructions: Find a place to park, stay as long as you like, but watch out for this other people who get cold and need to drive over the bridge to leave.

We arrived at the roosting area and walked over to the bridge. The girls were already talking about how cold it was, so Arlene grabbed the extra blanket from the trunk, and we went with our binoculars. As it grew closer to sunset (which comes early in Indiana in March) we saw eagles flying in to the trees just up the river from the bridge. AMAZING!

If you look again at the picture above, you will see that there are seven dark spots showing the bodies of the eagles that had come in to roost. By the time we eventually left, about an hour later, when all three of us girls were chilled to the bone, and in desperate need of a bathroom, there were at least 11 eagles in the trees. This wasn't just an opportunity to see a bald eagle, it was a whole group - a convocation of eagles!

Was it a fun trip - definitely! Was it cold and did our noses all turn red - absolutely! But more than just seeing the eagles, we were together when we made this memory. 

It was not an easy trip. Several of the side roads were muddy and gross. We had eaten all of our snacks we packed long before we got to the eagle roosting spot - but we went anyway! Afterwards, Kurt used the map app on his phone to find us a bathroom, and some more to eat, at a town that ended up being an hour and a half away from home. 

On that eagle watching trip I learned a few things:
-pack a bigger snack bag, being cold makes us all hungry
-you really need a better camera to take quality photos, but any one will do if you just want to take memories
-always pack some cash for emergency food stops
-memories last, circumstances don't. 

Choose the memories!

1 comment:

  1. what a great story. :) Good to know the behind the picture story.