Friday, March 20, 2015

Flailing toward flight

On the way home today I stopped to visit two bald eagles, marveled over a flock of turkey vultures wheeling majestically over my neighbor's cow pasture, and opened the door to find a great blue heron perched in a tree just above my creek. That's springtime in Ohio!

I've been observing this pair of bald eagles for weeks, viewing them almost daily on a  tree above the Muskingum. I haven't been able to stop and visit, though, because first the highway shoulder was covered in snow and then the river was up over its banks. Today I was determined to get a closer look, even though it required walking down a muddy slope from which the river has only recently withdrawn. The river is still swollen there, with barrels, tree limbs, and other debris bobbing in the swift current, but the eagles perch above and watch, unperturbed by high water, mud, traffic, or a curious onlooker.

The turkey vultures have been returning slowly; I've spotted a few solitaries here and there and two weeks ago I saw more a little further south in Kentucky. This week, though, they are back en masse, swooping above the meadows or perching in trees to await the next tasty bit of road kill. Up close they're quite ugly but the sight of a flock of vultures circling high above never fails to impress.
And suddenly, herons. They've been traveling from somewhere semitropical and they may have miles to go before they sleep, but I'm delighted that one decided to rest a spell right there in my creek. But of course it couldn't stay long: I tried to creep silently down the slope so as not to scare the heron, but I was still wearing my teaching shoes, which are not conducive to walking downhill in mud. I may have indulged in a bit of flailing. 

But I did not take flight. I concede that privilege to the birds.


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