Sunday, June 1, 2008

Eagally Speaking

Saturday June 1 2008

I've pretty much been working feverishly, non-stop since the Fandango ride, writing and working on pictures, a little cleaning (OK, and a lot of sleeping) and packing for my next trip. I've got to get everything done before I leave Tuesday for Europe. So far the endurance schedule is: the Dutch Championships, a ride in Sweden, then to Athens to sound-engineer my Gospel at Colonus show (that's another story), then a ride in Austria, then a ride in Italy... then back to the US for Tevis, and on and on...

Haven't even had time to ride a horse since the Fandango, but I did take a few hours today to go with Karen S to check out a golden eagle's nest on Castle Butte. A co-worker of Karen's had done a fly-over by helicopter a month ago, and had seen an eagle sitting on a nest.

We drove out there with the landowner's permission, over the old Oregon Trail, to the base of Castle Butte, to see how the young were doing, because by now, the young would probably be approximately 4-5 weeks old, getting ready to fledge.

Thirty years ago, the eagles in this territory nested on the northeast facing cliffs of the butte, sheltered from the strongest winds, and from the blazing heat that can cook the cliff faces in the spring and summer. Since then, a farmer built a place on that side, and the eagles, bothered by the constant human presence, moved to the southwest facing cliffs - more wind and more sun, and presumably less success at nesting.

Karen set up her spotting scope, and we saw several nests, two of which looked like they'd had some recent activity, with some whitewash on the rocks around the nests. Karen's experienced eye picked out the "decorated" nest, the one with fresh branches of sagebrush on it.

We looked, and looked, through the scope and our binoculars, at the nests and scanning the sky, and saw no sign of eagles. We were looking at an angle up at the nest, and sometimes the young can crouch quite low in those deep nests, but after watching for over half an hour, we saw no signs of eagles.

We concluded the nest failed - with that hot spell last week, with wind-less temperatures here in the 90's (so, imagine that cliff face baking in the sun), if there were young chicks, they probably fried. I prefer to think that the eggs never hatched.

We stopped at Regina's on the way home and I was entranced by her two black Percheron mares. One had a thick forelock that dropped fell her lip, both had 2 foot long manes, and both of them were so sweet. I'll be going back there for pictures of them, like maybe in the golden October light...

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