Friday, December 20, 2013

NEARLY AT THE END

I slowly floated past the black crowned night heron juvenile that was perched on a branch looking cold and miserable and thought, would I ever see him and his sister again.
I've seen both of them each and every time I've floated down this river together every morning or afternoon that I've been on this water.
She waited cautiously in a tree croaking occasionally for her brother to join her or to fly off and away from the white boat that seems to always disturb their solitude.
 He fluttered up to a higher branch and alighted gently and stared down at me.  They normally would fly off together keeping the trees between themselves and me but, today they hesitated and tolerated my presence as if they understood something was different, and it was.
Today is the last day I would be on this river in an official capacity and I was searching intently to see if I could find all my wildlife friends that I've come to know since arriving at this wonderful wildlife habitat.  I used binoculars to search the undercut banks and drove the boat slowly the length of both shores in order to catch  glimpses of the ones who have made my Summer here such an education in nature.  The entire day was overcast and chilly with water temperatures averaging 47 degrees and the critters were spending their days deep in burrows or behind protective foliage.

The beavers and otters would share warmth with their like kind on platforms above the waterline in burrows dug deep in the river banks and would not be emerging until nightfall when I've been long gone.  I understand but I'm disappointed at the same time.  This part of the river and it's shorelines are home to a host of amazing creatures that are not found on any other river I know of.  They are all represented here - otters, beavers, mink, muskrat, snakes of several varieties, bald eagles, red tail hawks, sharp shinned hawks, sharp shouldered hawks, black crowned herons, green herons and on and on.  All these fantastic creatures can be appreciated by simply floating down this short length of river and all one has to do is look and ---- see.

The afternoon went by quickly and I wanted to go past the eagle's mountain once more.  The eagles weren't there on my first pass earlier in the day.
But, one of the bald eagles was there now, a tiny white fleck on the brown of the mountainside.  I guess I wanted one last look at these monarchs, these great birds that I have gazed in awe on practically every visit to these waters.  They've become more like "my eagles" rather than just bald eagles.  Of course, no bald eagle is just an eagle.  Each one is precious and special and these were mine.  

 You haven't lived until you've looked a bald eagle in the eye!
 And so, Sir Harry, may you and your's fare well and I prey the sun will warm your face and the wind always be at your back.  I'll stop again in the Spring and you can introduce me to your newest children.  Until then - dance on the clouds and dazzle all those below you and live long, my friend.