Friday, June 02, 2006

Bald Eagle

Get this. It’s a Wednesday, about 3 in the afternoon. I’m a short 120 miles from the largest metropolis in the United States, in a row boat in the middle of a lake almost two miles long and a half mile wide. The temperature’s about 80, and I’m being pushed along by a warm wind. There’s not another boat on the lake. How is that possible?

I look back to my side of the lake, the western side, where cottages dot the shore. I see no one. I look easterly and see a pristine stretch of pine and swamp oak, and try to seek out the log that I think an eagle landed on the day before. I have to find out if the eagle that I saw from my picture window did indeed catch a fish in the middle of Mohican Lake.

It seems funny that two days before I was fighting the mobs on the subway to get to Penn Station, and pushing through those crowds to get a train to upstate New York. But every week up here I can count on at least one unforgettable encounter with nature, whether it's of a wasp carrying off a hunting spider, or of a pair of otters swimming in the cove.

Yesterday, it was the eagle, which I saw skimming the lake surface and flying to the log. Then, using a pair of binoculars, I tried to see if it were tearing into prey. Crows kept diving at it. I could hear them screeching even a half mile across the lake. But that’s not unusual. Whenever I’ve seen an eagle, I’ve almost always seen some other bird or birds driving it away. Birds as big as crows or as small as sparrows have serious issues with eagles. Then I thought that perhaps the scavenging crows were trying to drive the eagle from its prey, but after the eagle flew off and out of range, I didn’t see crows on the log.

So what happened? Had baldy caught a fish? That's what I mean to find out. I row closer, and see the sun glint off something shiny at the spot where I'm sure he fed. And I'm right, as evidenced by a pile of fish scales on the fore end of a waterlogged trunk of a pine.