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Archive for September, 2009

Where Eagles Soar!

My sister, Colleen Davisson, is the director of SOAR Tutoring, a program of Eagle Sports Club in Detroit, Michigan.  According to their web site this program “…offers low-cost, individualized one-on-one reading tutoring to struggling students on Detroit’s east side.”  I don’t live in Detroit, but if I did and I had the time, I think I would like to volunteer for this program.  Teaching kids to read is a great way to help them prepare for the future.

SOAR Tutoring

SOAR Tutoring

The sports club and tutoring program get their name from a passage in scripture, Isaiah 40:31 that reads in part, “…They will soar on wings like eagles…”  Those of you that know me are aware that I am not a religious person, but I do believe that anyone’s life can be made richer by helping others and I love the imagery of that passage.  I am sure this tutoring program helps everyone involved SOAR like an Eagle!

Enough of the public service message…now for the real reason I am writing this post.

Twice this past week, on our way home from work, my husband, Charlie and I were treated to one of the most spectacular things anyone can ever be witness to.  A Bald Eagle Soaring over Irondequoit Bay!  Well, I don’t really mean that the most spectacular part is that the eagle was soaring over Irondequoit Bay, but that there actually are Bald Eagles soaring over Irondequoit Bay at all!  I never thought I would be able to see a Bald Eagle in Monroe County, NY.  I always figured I would have to travel to Alaska to see one in the wild.  Thanks to the hard work of many people the Bald Eagle is making a dramatic come back in the lower 48 states.

Aerial View of Irondequoit Bay

Aerial View of Irondequoit Bay

The only bad thing about this experience is that it occurred, both times, while driving over the Irondequoit Bay Bridge during evening rush hour!  It really is a challenge for me to stay in whatever lane I happen to be in and keep my eye on the eagle for as long as I can without crashing into anyone!  I have to keep looking at it since I only have a few seconds to view this magnificent creature as we travel along at 55+ mph.  I think it would be safer to be texting while driving instead of watching an eagle soar over your car.  I took a screen shot from a traffic web cam of the bridge (this shot faces west, I travel on the far side heading towards the camera at the end of the day) and pasted a photo I found of an eagle to illustrate how dangerous this can be for bird watchers.  In either direction there are 3 lanes and no shoulders so there is no where to pull off and enjoy the show!

Bald Eagle over Irondequoit Bay Bridge (illustration...not real!)

Bald Eagle over Irondequoit Bay Bridge (illustration...not real!)

The eagles are usually flying south towards their nesting area as we are heading east toward home.  Yes, you read that right.  Bald Eagles have been nesting along the shore of Irondequoit Bay for a few years now.  Their nest was first spotted in 2006 and I believe they have been back every year since.  At least we have seen an eagle fly over the bridge every year since then as well.  I did read a report on one of the birding forums recently that the adults were “chasing the juveniles out of the area” so I believe they have had a successful brood this year.

Because they are a protected species it is illegal to get too close to a Bald Eagle or their nest so Charlie and I haven’t tried to find them.  We would have to find a vantage point anywhere on the Bay and wait for the chance to see the eagle fly by.  We probably wouldn’t get to see it for any longer than when driving over the bridge so for now I will cherish every moment that comes up on our way home from work, and hope I never get in a wreck while staring up at the sky.

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A couple of Saturdays ago my husband, Charlie, and I were treated to a couple of hours of entertainment by the critters that call our property home (or were just passing through that day). It started when we noticed that there were about 50 American Robins hunting for worms and bugs all around our property and enjoying some of the freshly ripe blueberries. Many of the robins were youngsters and in addition to looking for food spent some of the time harassing each other.

Here is some video I took of the robins in the yard. First a juvenile robin looks for bugs and takes a bath in the wet grass (filmed from in the house). He tries to find some peace, but is regularly harassed by other members of the flock. The second part shows a robin that has staked his claim to the bird bath, but waits for just the right moment to take advantage of it.

Our blueberry bushes were full of ripe berries and many of the birds were taking advantage of this.  We could harvest the berries (and make a few pies or some jam), but the purpose for having them in the yard is to attract the birds to the yard.  We also noticed some other backyard residents enjoying the bountiful feast as well. Below are a couple of videos demonstrating the entertaining and acrobatic moves of the chipmunk and squirrel as they climb the bushes to find the ripe fruit. 

Some of you might consider chipmunks to be no more than a pest in the garden, but I can’t help but smile every time I see one hopping around the yard.  The video with the chipmunk also has me apologizing to a Black-capped Chickadee that buzzed me and seemed to not like where I was standing.  A Baltimore Oriole also stops by to share the blueberries with the chipmunk.

Another visitor to the yard that day was a juvenile (or possibly female) Baltimore Oriole. In the following video she spends some time probing a daylily blossom for nectar (also filmed from inside the house), hangs out in a witch hazel shrub and finishes with a feast of blueberries.

The last bit of entertainment for the morning involved a variety of visitors. A White Breasted Nuthatch lands on a hook holding a hanging basket of petunias. I think he was wondering where the suet feeder, that was in the same spot all winter, was . A bluejay stops by and tries to figure out how to get seed from the niger feeder that the American Goldfinches use. A squirrel and a pair of chipmunks disrupt a juvenile Northern Flicker digging in the mulch. And lastly an American Tree Sparrow stops by for a close encounter.

Just when I gathered my equipment and went inside, Nina let us know of a few more visitors to the yard.  I didn’t get any video of them, but our twin fawns and their mom (see their videos here and here) wandered across the front yard.  It was so great to see that they are still safe. 

I could have spent hours observing and recording the action, but knew I needed to get on with the day.  Charlie was very understanding and let me indulge myself for quite a while. I love mornings like this and wish there were an endless supply. Maybe when I am old enough to retire….

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