Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Walking with Eagles

Our walk last Saturday was probably the best ever. We started out thinking we would just go look for Sierra Newts in the creek as we did last week, and then walk along the river as we usually do. We ended up running into the owner of the property where the newts live and getting permissions to walk wherever we wanted so instead we took off up the hill and spent the next six hours exploring. We saw a golden eagle and watched it for some time while it soared and hunted. And of course we saw lots of other birds, and definitely we can tell that spring is coming because it's a different set of species as our winter visitors head out and our summer residents are starting to move back in.

Some of our favorites are now in evidence again, including a Lark Sparrow who spends a lot of time in our front yard. He is an absolute terrorist when it comes to eating grasshoppers, which are evidently yummy if you're a sparrow. We also saw a score or more of white-throated swifts which we had never seen before around here - they were eating some sort of insect on the wing, and it was quite fun to watch them.

We gained about 800 feet of elevation on our walk, getting up to 2100 or so. The view from the top of the ridge looking down into the valley toward our ranch house and the Chowchilla River was unbelievable - so beautiful! The river was just shining with the sun on it - it reminded me of that Paul Simon song, "The Mississippi delta was shining like a National guitar." Breathtaking, not that our little river is as grand as the Mississippi, of course.

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