Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Rapid Release in the Rain

Saturday was a wet and chilly day but I charged my camera batteries in readiness as at noon there was a scheduled eagle release near me. It would still go ahead as long as the rain wasn't too heavy so I wrapped up and grabbed a golf umbrella as I walked out of the door.
Blue Ridge Wildlife had collected this eagle a year ago. He had been found on the ground yet when he was taken back to the center they couldn't find any clue as to why he'd been grounded. Sometimes birds are orphaned or left to fend for themselves too soon and this could have been the reason for this guy's dilemma. He was emaciated and the center did find maggots in his wing feather tracts so he was nursed back to health while waiting for new feathers to grow back in after his molt. He was moved down to the wildlife Center of Virginia for a while so he could spend time with other juvenile eagles and relearn how to eat, interact and fly, then he came back here. Blue Ridge has a wonderful flight cage, like a circular tunnel so he was able to spend time in there until his release.
There's a great video on their Facebook page of the eagle testing out his wings 
About 25 people showed up and we waited patiently in the rain until the eagle was lifted from his cage and shown to everyone. I was really struggling, trying to hold a large umbrella while keeping my camera dry as well as operating it, so my photos didn't come out as well as I'd hoped. But I was more there to witness this event rather than document it; I've been to 3 of these releases now and each one is an absolute joy to experience.
Heather walked around with the eagle, barely 2 years old, so he was still sporting his juvenile feathers. He made no effort to show any pleasure at his imminent release, instead scowling the whole time he sat in Heather's arms. But you have to just love that face, and what a privilege to see one of these majestic birds so close up.
And then it was time for his release. A quick count to three and he practically leaped from her arms, reaching out for the limitless sky and his well earned freedom.
 I just snapped a couple of shots as he flew up into the rain, not wanting to miss these last few seconds before he disappeared for good. He made straight for a line of trees at the edge of the field then vanished. He was young, healthy and free. Well done Blue Ridge!
I shall look out for him in the future as I drive up and down this road to and from work.There's an older bald eagle that also lives in this area and Heather said it could be likely this one was an offspring.
I was glad to jump back into the car, The whole event had barely taken 15 minutes but I was feeling quite damp and needed to wipe my camera down too. But only a few minutes after leaving I was out of the car again when I spotted a huge clump of fungi growing at the base of a tree by the road.
I think this is Hen of the Woods fungi, which is edible, but I had no intention of trying it out in case my identification was wrong. It didn't look that tasty close up either so I left with no regrets.
Driving up the hill to meadow House I passed a gang of turkeys grazing on the hill. They had a quick peek at me as I rolled my window down for a better look and then waddled out of sight. And I was happy to get home where two warm fluff balls were waiting for a lap to sit on while I nursed a big mug of tea. I would be staying home for the rest of this day, leaving the sodden exterior to turkeys and eagles and all the other wildlife,

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