In Our Own Backyard...A young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love
One afternoon last week I received a voicemail message from my husband on my cell phone.
“Call me as soon as you can,” he said breathlessly. “I have something to tell you about!”
It turned out he was on a bike ride along an area roadway when he looked up and saw a giant nest at the very top of a construction crane with two small heads sticking out of it.
The next day as I drove past the same spot, I pulled over and looked up. And sure enough, there was the massive nest, made haphazardly of sticks and teetering in the claw-like bucket at the distant top of the crane, some 100 feet or so in the air. I could just barely make out the heads sticking out the top of it, but as I got my camera out to take a couple of photos, one of the birds scramble up on the edge of the nest and flew away a short distance, followed by the other. It was impossible to tell if there were any eggs or chicks in the nest, but judging from their solicitous behavior, I figured they’d certainly started their family.
As I am every spring, I was touched by the strong drive birds and animals have to once again start the life cycle anew.
It seemed that all of nature was suddenly hastening to get on with spring last weekend as the temperature hovered around the 70-degree mark. The last of the ice on our lake disappeared overnight, and by Saturday my husband was fishing and I was launching my kayak for the first time since last October. The first few paddle strokes were heavenly, as though a giant weight had been suddenly lifted from my shoulders and I had been set free at last. As I headed across the lake hoping for a glimpse of the loons we’d been hearing, I noticed that every exposed log and deadhead seemed to have turtles camped out on them, warming themselves in the sunshine. On one log, three turtles were lined up in a row, each overlapping the one next to it, with another in the water just off the end of the log, hoping to find a spot of its own. Even as I paddled closer to grab a photo, I could tell they were reluctant to leave the warmth of their log and they held their ground.
A pair of mergansers hugged the shoreline, seemingly oblivious to my presence. The red-orange beak on the male glowed brightly, and the fancy cinnamon-colored crest on the female flared over the top of her head like a Mohawk hairdo. They clucked and muttered as they alternately swam toward, and then away from, each other, in some sort of ancient mating ritual.
A small flock of Canada geese set up a terrible racket in the nearby bay, flying touchdowns on the water only to lift right back up again as they sparred over what was probably an unattached female. An osprey soared high overhead, climbing, climbing until it seemed to stall briefly on an air current before it went into a freefall, crashed headfirst into the water and came up with a small fish.
I discovered the loons were doing some fishing of their own in the far end of the lake, keeping constant vigil on each other and only sounding their warning call when an eagle flew far overhead.
It was then I noticed that the eagle was being pursued by a crow, who scolded incessantly as it chased. I wondered why the eagle would turn tail and fly away from so small a bird, and then I wondered suspiciously if the eagle had raided the crow’s nest in order to feed its own young. And so, I felt little sympathy for the eagle as it swooped this way and that to try to get away from its pursuer, but to no avail. I took a few photos of the chase through the long lens of my camera.
But it wasn’t until I got back to the house, downloaded my photos and zoomed in on the eagle that I noticed something I had missed with the naked eye — it carried a small branch in its talons. It seems the majestic bird wasn’t raiding the other’s nest after all — but was in the process of starting one of its own.