Kayaking on Red Mill Pond

Today was unseasonably warm with the high around 65 Fahrenheit! Can you imagine 65 degrees in the middle of February? I took the opportunity to go out on the pond in Ann’s kayak, to see what I could see. I saw cranes, geese, ducks, and fish jumping right out of the water even! I also got to see the bald eagles, which were beautiful and majestic – as usual. I also ran into a couple who were also out on their kayaks. It was a beautiful day…

Kayaks on Red Mill Pond

Oh – that is a bald eagle you see in the picture. It is so far away though you can’t make it out… I tried to get a good picture it as it flew right over head but, it’s all but impossible. And as much as I love my new iPhone 7 plus and its lovely pictures, it’s not very good at taking real-life, action pictures. Grabbing the phone quickly usually turns on an unwanted feature or renders completely useless. By the time you get it sorted, the bird or other thing you were trying to take a picture of has passed. Aiming it accurately too, especially with bright ambient light, is very impossible. Very frustrating indeed! I think that from now on, I will always bring my Nikon DSLR along with me. I guess I’ll have to pay to get my telephoto lens fixed after all.

Bald Eagle Spotted on Autumn Day Canoe Trip

So I walk past the kitchen to check on my son, and our exchange student.  They are both heads down over their electronic devices.  Nothing new there!  One is on his iPhone, while the other is on the computer.  They have been going at it for a while now and I feel a bubble of frustration peculating up inside me.  I can’t help it!  It’s a beautiful autumn day outside.  Don’t they see that?  I’ve have had to work at my desk all day.  They have a choice.  I don’t!  And this is what they choose to do with their time?  There won’t be too many more days like this one.  Finally, I can’t help myself:

“Okay.  That’s it.  We are going outside.  I don’t care what we do but, we are going outside.  It’s your choice.  We can go for a walk along Indian Crossing Trail or we can take the canoe out on the pond…”

Groans can be heard but, the two agree on the canoe.  Great!  We can get out on the pond before the sun sets and get a twilight paddle in before dinner time.  I grab the life jackets, oars and camera and we head on out.

Heading north, coming around the peninsular that is my neighbor’s yard, we sight a huge formation of geese.

A Gaggle, a Skein, and a Wedge of Geese - Red Mill Pond
A Gaggle, a Skein, and a Wedge of Geese – Red Mill Pond

Did you know that according to Wikipedia, the collective noun for a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle; when in flight, they are called a skein, a team, or a wedge; when flying close together, they are called a plump.

We head north.  I am secretly hoping to see some of the cranes.  They are so elegant but, unfortunately they are nowhere to be seen.  Then we see it – one of the bald eagles.  It’s definitely an adult because we can see it’s white tail.  It flies directly in front of us and makes a long graceful arc, heading south along the length of the pond.  There’s no question who the apex predator is in these parts!  What a grand presence this majestic creature conveys.  We are awed.

Bald Eagle over Red Mill Pond
Bald Eagle over Red Mill Pond

Although the eagle seems far away, he is actually quite close to us.  If you click on the photo, you can see a full size view of the picture.

In the next few days, I will try to upload some more photographs from this excursion…

Juvenile Bald Eagle Sighted

While canoeing on the pond, we paddled by one of the bald eagles’ favorite hangouts – a dead tree on the waters edge.  We have a couple of dead trees on our property and have not cut them down for this very reason – the bald eagles love to hunt from these high perches.  Today, instead of an adult bald eagle though, we spotted this youngster:

Bald Eagle - Red Mill Pond - August 7, 2016
Bald Eagle – Red Mill Pond – August 7, 2016

Initially, I was a little confused.  Was this really a bald eagle?  Aren’t they supposed to have a white head, white tail and yellow beak?  What kind of bird is this?  An article on Wikipedia says:

The plumage of the immature (bald eagle) is a dark brown overlaid with messy white streaking until the fifth (rarely fourth, very rarely third) year, when it reaches sexual maturity…  Another distinguishing feature of the immature bald eagle over the mature bird is its black, yellow-tipped beak; the mature eagle has a fully yellow beak.

So what we have here is an immature bald eagle.  I have no idea how old it is but, it must be less than five years old.  And apparently, while adult eagles are proficient hunters of live prey, immature eagles are more likely to obtain their food from scavenging.

Here is a picture of the same eagle, taken just before it landed on the woodpile (above).  Notice the impressive wingspan and its yellow talons:

Immature Bald Eagle - Impressive Wingspan - Red Mill Pond - August 7, 2016
Immature Bald Eagle – Impressive Wingspan – Red Mill Pond – August 7, 2016

We were careful to keep our distance from the eagle.  As a general rule, I try to keep far enough away from the wildlife on the pond, so as to not create a stress or disturbance for them in any way.  I know that this is their environment and we are just guests.

We paddled away, as quietly and carefully as possible.  The eagle turned away from us, spreading its wings out slightly to bask in the warm sunlight.