Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lunch Run with Eagle

Since it was only 72 degrees and overcast I decided to run outside at lunch. I started out about 50 yards ahead of a group of 3 guys – they caught me after about a quarter mile, but I chatted with them for a minute and then stayed about as close behind them as I do my wife a lot of the time, 20 feet or so back, for the first 15 minutes. They said they were going 6 or 8 miles. I said I wasn’t going that far, maybe 4 or 5. I stayed with them as far as Lady Anne Lake at the back of Edgewater – they went straight on the roads and I turned right to go around the lake. I thought I’d at least go across the dam and see what wildlife I could see – maybe a great blue heron or a water snake. I only saw the more common animals: turtles, fish and ducks (including a coot) until I crossed the second bridge. I was just noticing how really low the water was when I saw a head sticking up in the shallows that wasn’t quite a turtle. When I got closer I could see it was a snake about 3 feet long. It wasn’t a Banded Water Snake, which is what I usually think I see, because I could tell that the markings didn’t go all the way around in nice bands. I looked it up later on the internet, identifying it as a Midland Water Snake. A few yards later I was still memorizing the snake pattern as I started to bend right with the edge of the lake, in the corner of my left eye I caught something swooping toward the center of the lake, maybe 100 yards from me. It was a large bird of prey that dipped its feet in the water and then flew back up with lazy but powerful strokes of some very large wings. It wasn’t a heron – all the wrong build for that, although the wingspan was about right; it was too big for any hawk and with the white head and neck and pure white fan of tail feathers this was no turkey buzzard, not that they swoop over water anyway; it was a bald eagle. Its talons were empty but it kept rising and flew off northwards over the trees leaving me just hoping it would turn around and take another pass at the fish it missed. Uplifted by the sighting, I kept going on around the whole lake and ended up with almost 6 miles under my feet.

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