Love is all around.

mallards-2

I am thrilled to report the mallards are back!

You remember them, no doubt, the courageous couple who–just last summer–nested beneath the daylilies on the edge of our koi(-less) pond. It was the drama of the season, if you don’t include the saga of Harry and the bluebird babies, since the mallard story involved nine gigantic eggs, two large gorging snakes, and one human’s year-long fear of retribution from all of reptiledom. (I may or may not have lost my head and insisted that my brave husband bludgeon the first IT’S DEFINITELY POISONOUS snake, which he did just for me.) You’ll find that entire story here.

 

i love them.
i love them.

 

The Canada geese are back, as well.

 

geese

 

We’ve been raising babies together since that first big gaggle in 2009 and I love these devoted parents and each and every little ball of yellow fur like it was our very first. I also worry about each like it is the primary target of all the big ol’ turtles out there, which sadly happens to be true.

 

our little family, circa 2010
our little family, circa 2010

 

She-Blu and He-Blu are everywhere, flying in tandem, fishing like there’s no tomorrow. (For a long time we didn’t realize there were two blue herons, so rare is it to see them together.) This morning I spotted one of them on the Eagle’s perch in the Cope’s side yard. What is up with that?

 

blu-1

blu-2blu-3

 

As if that’s not enough, guess who else showed  up?

 

reflection

 

The Eagles! They’ve been about, and Sunday afternoon, one or the other showed up to hang with us all during a happy hour cocktail down on the deck at the edge of our yard. I can’t remember the last time one of them came to sit in those trees—outposts they used to frequent.

 

eagle-2

 

BickleysPondEagle

And I must say, that’s nothing compared to the goings-on of the songbirds. Yes, love is all around and I will tell you that story next time. (There just might be a bluebird sighting.)

The promise of Spring. So happy it has come to Bickley’s Pond!

 

 

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hello old friend

We moved to Bickley’s Pond in 2008, and one of the great joys we discovered here was an Eagle’s nest just across the tiny cove from our back yard. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get the chance to watch such fascinating activity from my screen porch; our house is built on a lot that slopes toward the water, so we have a pretty good “bird’s eye view” from the main level of our house. We raised three broods there, those eagles and I, something I was thrilled to share here on The Daily Grace. (You can follow much of the story via the links below.)

And then the giant pine in which they’d built their nest died, and the branches became frail, and the nest began to crumble. I think I’d have cried the day I watched as the entire thing fell 100 feet to the ground—except that a major contributor was the fact there were three giant eaglets fighting over food in the nest at the time. How I delighted in watching those babies grow.

With the nest gone, the eagles built farther back in the woods. My friend Jay (an expert) took Tim and me on a hike to visit the eagles one Sunday afternoon. My heart warmed to find them at home and, seemingly, very comfortable there.

All of this is to say there hasn’t been much eagle activity in my life of late. In fact, I don’t think I’d seen either of them all summer. And then two days ago, I happened to catch sight as one or the other cut a flight path right through our yard, no doubt headed to Lake Murray or the tree in Matt’s yard with the natural perch they love.

And then yesterday, just as I passed by the big window over my kitchen sink, I saw the eagle again, just above the pond. I watched as he swooped down and back, and then landed in a tree just at the edge of the water, right on our side of the fence. I ran for the camera and crept down the side yard hoping for a quick up-close shot. He spotted me and those giant wings lifted off. My heart sunk a little as I click click clicked, hoping to get something worth sharing. And then to my delight he landed on a branch just across the water.

Hello old friend I said out loud as I raised the camera to my eye. It’s mighty good to see you again.

8.21.14, on Bickley's Pond
8.21.14, on Bickley’s Pond

Follow much of the Eagle Saga here:

Part I, 2009: Eagle nest in our back yard.

Part II: Strange Eagle activity. Eagle eggs? Babies. X2! They eat. They grow. Big. Fast. They want to fly. They are so high. We fret.

Part III: They fly! And then they are gone, and we are left here. Empty nesters on Bickley’s Pond.

Part IV: Spring 2012 Three years pass.

Part V: The Eagle Nest Falls

Part VI: Reversal of Fortune

Part VII: Finding the new eagle nest

 

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Day 16: Dusk. Rain. Eagle!

You probably know the sight of either of the Eagles is cause for great celebration in our house, now that the pair has made a regular home back in the woods, out of our view. For so long their nest was right here, across the tiny cove from our back yard, where I could watch (and document) every move. We raised five eaglets in that nest, those Eagles and I.

Late yesterday I stepped to the sink to wash up some dishes, there in front of the big kitchen window. Looking through the rainy dusk I spotted this.

eagle-1

(Not great photos due to the darkness, rain and distance–but you get the idea.)

It was thrilling to see that big bird there, for obvious reasons. But even more fun is the fact we’ve never seen either of the Eagles perched there, on the tip-top of the tallest tree on Bickley’s Pond.

What a grand view of the world I thought. How glorious it must be to see things from that height, to have that broad perspective.

eagle-2

It was a beautiful reminder of advice I received years ago that has served me well in this life:

When you are wrestling with a problem you can’t seem to solve, pull out, broaden your perspective. Then broaden again. And again, if need be. The answer is there for you—you just can’t see it when you are down in the weeds.

I hadn’t thought about that counsel in a long time, but I get the feeling it has come to me now for a very good reason.

 

30 Days of Grace III

Eagle Proof: Hello Fall

I’m thinking they’ve summered in the Hamptons is what I thought just yesterday as I considered the Bickely’s Pond eagles, that devoted pair who’ve shared the thrill of their rearing of three broods (six babies) with us. Sightings have been rare since that night Dad was here, a gift of nature for which I am still grateful.

And then this morning, from the corner of the kitchen window, I caught a glimpse of that familiar white tail crossing the sky above Bickley’s Pond. In the Eagle’s talons was a gigantic branch, a sure sign nesting season is upon us.

My heart skipped a beat. Since the tree that held their gigantic nest fell—the one here in full view, just at the edge of the pond—the Eagle couple has been homekeeping deep in the woods, just beyond our neighborhood. (Do you remember the trek Jay, Tim and I took to find them last Spring? Thrilling!)

Not 30 minutes later, out of my bathroom window, another sighting of the Eagle, this time in the air above the Cope’s pool.

And then the flight back.

It’s enough to cause me to pronounce that as of this very moment, Summer is making way for Fall. I can feel it (and see it) in the air.

building time, circa 2011

the walk

You know how crazy I am about my birds.

You should see my Daddy.

He’s visiting us in South Carolina for the first time in several years, and at the top of our agenda is EAGLE WATCHING. We hung out on the pretty screen porch, fingers crossed, hope hope hoping for a sighting. Then right in the midst of dinner, two bites into the pork tenderloin, I caught a quick glimpse of one of the great birds crossing Bickley’s Pond. We decided right then and there to wrap up dinner ASAP and head out for a walk, intent on finding the eagle trio.

Saddled into his little red scooter, Dad was ready to go. So we all set out: Eliza, Tim, my brother Sutton, Little Bit, Dad and me.

I love a man with some binoculars.

I’m happy to report we found those Eagles in short order, perched high in the tall pine just at the top of the next cul-de-sac. What a thrill it was to share that moment with my Dad.

We talked about the big birds, the baby (who seems to be missing?) and all the action that takes place every day around Bickley’s Pond. Then I looked down to find this.

And then this.

 And later, along our route, this, and this, and this.

It was a great night for a little outing, an opportunity to talk about interesting things, to look for interesting things, to see interesting things. It was also a night of abundant blessings—which someone certainly made sure I realized, what with not just one feather, but five.

so much to see!

 

careful what you wish for

It was so quiet around here all those months between the demise of the great eagle nest and our discovery that (to go with the new nest back there in the woods) there is a new baby eagle.

Now it is not so quiet. This baby screams day and night, and it doesn’t matter what the big bird is up to. Perching on a branch, standing on the ground, flying in gigantic swoops above Bickley’s Pond—it screams and screeches like nobody’s business. Most curious, it regularly crashes right into a perching parent with such force it’s a wonder they don’t all come tumbling down.

Just tonight we heard such a racket Tim and I both headed up the driveway for a look. Big Baby came swooping down and knocked into one of the parents with such great force I still can’t imagine how the older bird held on. But sure enough, after 20 or 30 seconds of great wings flapping, the Big Baby lifted off and landed in a neighboring tree. Things calmed a bit until BB came back, finding a spot a respectable distance from Mom and Dad.

And still that baby carried on!

I’m thinking these next weeks will be long ones for our eagle parents. How happy I am they have several years of experience under their majestic belts.

A sad day.

Notice anything?

See that big empty space? There, to the left of the towering pine? Once upon a time there was another tall tree there that housed a huge Eagle nest. It was home to an Eagle family.

Then the tree died, but the nest stayed.

Then those Eagles had three rambunctious babies who ripped apart the nest fighting over food. The nest proceeded to fall to the ground in two gigantic clumps. And before you could hardly get a photo, there was no nest at all.

There was still a tree (or at least the skeleton of one). We’d gaze up at it lovingly, as if any moment some significant Eagle activity might commence. And sure enough, from time to time, one or the other, or one of the growing babies, would land there, sitting a while, lording over Bickley’s Pond. I’d grab my camera and come running like I didn’t already have 5,000 photos of those birds, sitting in that very tree.

eagle photo #4999: one of the babies

And then last night, Tim looked up to find the old dead tree gone. Vanished, in the blink of an eye.

How could this happen? How did we miss the entire event, after the countless hours we’ve spent speculating on when, and in which direction, that old tree would fall—toward our house? Into the lake? In the Cope’s pool?

I went searching for the tree this morning on my walk, creeping way deeper into the gigantic weed trees and spider nests than I expected. I had to see that tree, after all this time.

Doesn't it look spidery?

But alas. It has been swallowed up by the woods and the weeds, not to be seen by me until winter comes and strips the spot a bit more bare.

I feel sad deep in my heart. I know this is silly; every ending is a new beginning. Who knows? Maybe the eagles will build a new nest in the even more gigantic pine just next door? Maybe the next babies will be even closer?

Still, I’m sad. It’s very strange to glance up to that tree to see what might be going on there, only to be reminded it is gone. And I do it a thousand times a day.

Tomorrow, I will remember to fill the bird feeders. In no time there will be great flocks of sparrows and finches and chickadees and mockingbirds dancing just beyond the kitchen window. I will leave my camera there on the kitchen counter—ready to snap a shot of the speckled baby cardinal. And didn’t I see a pair of herons just this morning?

Come home, Eagles. I will keep watch.

Day 12: The Eagles, and the Empty Nest

This most glorious October weekend started with this beautiful sight:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, for the first time since leaving for college, my sweet Eliza is home for the weekend. The mere sight of her car in the driveway made my heart leap as I drove up Friday afternoon.

Then on Saturday, this:

I caught sight of the baby Eagle as she (he?) made her way across our pond to a favorite perch of her parents. They’ve been residents of our neighborhood for several years, and two Springs ago, nested—and raised two babies—just across a small cove from our back yard. Tim and I spent many months mesmerized by the goings-on of that family, from the harvesting of our newly-planted sod (!) to line their nest, to the first rather terrifying flights of both babies. I’ve never witnessed anything quite so spectacular.

Mom, Dad and the two babies, circa 2009

We were saddened to watch the demise of the towering pine that held their humongous home, knowing the Eagles would build elsewhere and move on.

(That’s just what happened.)

We still see the parents pretty regularly, but since the new nest is deep in the woods, we are left to wonder—every nesting season—whether there are eagle eggs, if they hatched, and if they survived. So I’m sure you can understand my delight in catching a glimpse of that baby crossing our pond. I saw her (rather amateurishly) land on a long, strong branch just across the way, so I grabbed my camera and ran out the door, headed for the water’s edge.

It was a glorious October afternoon, and we spent a good, long while out there, the baby Eagle and I. While she was completely preoccupied by the ducks and the geese and the turtles and the fish, I think she knew I was there, standing by, holding my breath when she spread her wings to fly.

 

30 Days of Grace