Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A little too late...

Over the long weekend I have been stalking a juvenile bald eagle at Lincoln Park. I first spied the elusive eaglet on late Saturday afternoon. I was surprised to see him (?) because he was about 200 feet away, perched in low branches along the walking path just north of Colman Pool. It was about 3:30pm and rather crowded with lots of walkers, joggers and sun-seekers. Since my eyes have deceived me before, I wanted to take a closer look at the large, shadowy figure through my binoculars to be sure it was a bird at all before making any sort of declaration to my husband, Brian. After all, it seemed unusual for a raptor to be that close to the ground and I have been laughed at before mistaking a leaf for something much grander. Yes! It was something- something large! I struggled to get my camera without dropping my binoculars and did this while watching the bird start to move. My camera was inside my jacket and while I retrieved it in about 5 seconds- the raptor had come directly toward me and swooped over head. I was only able to get a silhouette of him flying away.

It was only after I replayed the event in my mind that I realized the bird of prey was going after a tiny little chihuahua that was walking ahead of me. I recall the owner quickly scooping the dog in to her arms as the bird made a swift descent.

We stood there stunned and I was a bit upset that I missed a chance at such great photos. An older gentleman on his bicycle had witnessed the spectacular fly-by and told me and Brian it was a juvenile bald eagle. Yes, that would explain the dark mottled color- I was having a hard time identifying the bird because I am a novice and there weren't any white spots developing on the eaglet yet.

We went back to the park on Monday and immediately saw the young eagle on the tree top along the bluff above the pool. We decided to take the path up the slope to get a closer look but of course got disoriented amongst the trees. When we returned to the lower part of the park we saw the eagle fly to the tree top again but was soon chased away by a group of seagulls. We waited several minutes, but saw no sign of him. Just as we started walking away, a man walking toward us exclaimed to his girlfriend, "look a bald eagle!"

We were rewarded with seeing the young eagle soaring with an adult, which reinforced the notion that I need a telephoto lens. Arghh!

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