Saturday, January 26, 2008


The bitter cold continues and as a result, the lake features change: the ice expands and open water shrinks. This morning was a busy one for our fine-feathered friends, some just migrating through, while others make their home here.

One of them who calls this their home now, a bald eagle, returned with yet more nesting material. He ever so carefully and gently placed the branch different places, over and over again, until he found the perfect spot, then immediately set out to gather more. It is a slow process to building the gigantic home, just one branch at a time. Did you know that some bald eagle nests can weigh as much as 2000 pounds? It’s hard to believe that a tree like a cottonwood (Populus deltoides, Populus fremontii, Populus nigra) could support that sort of weight, especially when the ground and cars are littered with fallen branches after just a wee bit of wind comes through.

Other birds that are active here today are the migratory birds. I previously mentioned that they circle around until finding a spot to alight on the lake. Well, with the shrinking open water, and the increasing water population, there is less and less water space for birds to land. During certain times of the day and in certain light conditions, it is also likely parts of the lake that are barely frozen over can look like open water. So perhaps it's no surprise to see ducks coming in for a landing, apparently thinking they will glide in the water as they touch down, only to find they are touching down on ice. So instead of a splash-glide, they clunk-slide to a stop. Okay, maybe you had to be there to see it in person, but it reminded me of the cartoons I watched as a kid, and a little chuckle slipped out.

With the small amount of open space, watching the various types of birds navigate around each other is almost like watching the skaters on Rockefeller Skating Rink. Fascinating to watch, the birds all move in a choreographed clockwise dance…

With a pirouette and an arabesque,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Walking on Thin Ice

Like so much of the country, it’s been unseasonably cold here this month. The lake is almost frozen over, which is quite an unusual sight. It seems even the ducks are surprised by that, as they circle around a few extra times before landing. When they do land, they take a swim around the lake perimeter, slowing to bob up and down as they snatch some tasty morsels, perhaps some snails or maybe some greens. Once they finish, they gravitate to solid ground, ahem, ice. They obliviously walk on thin ice, carefree as to whether it will break under them. What tough critters, as they stand on the ice for hours, like a cute little Cabela’s store window display. (*topnav*CabelasLogo)

Farewell for now, my fine-feathered-friends!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nature's Alarm Clocks

First it’s the rooster who calls from across the way, then the ducks quack-quack-quacking, then the rays of sun break the horizon. A new day has dawned, and nature wakes. And it’s another beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest.

No eagles on the nest this morning; perhaps they are following the salmon today. Surely that has to be an easier meal for them than chasing down a duck. Although I recall one time…sitting on the deck with a group of people, we watched as a mallard flew just over our heads with an eagle pursuing it close behind. The mallard’s wings were beating as fast as they could, while in contrast, the eagle just slowly and easily glided behind with an occasional wing movement. They both flew to the north and then did a U-turn to the south, the eagle biding his time and hanging just behind the mallard. They flew over the deck again, not 20 feet above us. We could almost feel the duck’s hammering heart as we heard its wings pounding away, desperate to make its escape from the danger lurking behind. The duck must have finally used up its energy and it splashed down at the far end of the lake, with the eagle right behind it. There was a splash as the duck landed and then a second splash. The eagle rose, and the duck was no longer visible. Standing on the deck, the group of people just stared, stunned to have seen nature, brutal nature, in action.

A friend who lives fairly close to the lake has also had close encounters with the eagles. She has farm animals, including chickens, ducks, and geese. She has seen the eagles stop by for a chicken dinner plenty of times. Her opinion is that if a chicken is stupid enough to be outside, by itself, and an eagle is near, well, if the eagle gets that chicken, that’s survival of the fittest at its finest.


Monday, January 21, 2008

When a duck isn't a duck...

The eagles are busily adding to their nest and today I noticed one is sitting, tucked down into it. It’s so hard to even see her in there, but I saw her hop in and can identify a few feathers now.
The other day was very exciting…the pair was swooping down on a lone bufflehead as they were 'hunting' him on the lake. That wasn't unusual, but something I hadn't observed before was when one of the eagles landed in the water and stayed there, floating for what seemed like minutes.

Please pardon the focus of the picture, as I took it of the eagles at the far end of the lake. I snapped the photo of one eagle floating on the water while the other is above swooping down for the bufflehead (yes, my favorite little water fowl) should he emerge (he didn't at that point). I hadn't read anywhere that the eagles actually stayed on the water, floating like a duck like this one did, for longer than to grab their prey. When the bufflehead emerged, he was probably 10 feet away from the floating eagle, who then took flight. Eventually things turned out as expected...the thrill of victory (for the eagles) and the agony of defeat (for the bufflehead). Fascinating viewing, and evidence that what looks like a duck isn't always a duck!

Am I In Green Bay?

It's another gorgeous day in the Pacific Northwest, but wait (blink), is this truly the PNW or is it really Green Bay? The temperatures have dipped below freezing and everything has a coat of white frost and looks like a winter wonderland. It's one of those days, so crisp and clear that it beckons you to come outside and indulge. So, out you go. The hairs in your nose freeze when you breathe; as you walk, everything crunches; the wind cuts through you like a knife.

These are perfect conditions for those bulbs that were put into the ground in the fall (or maybe some that were just put to bed a month ago--oops), to give them what they need in order to explode into their spring displays.
This picture was not taken in Green Bay, but rather at the Tulip Festival in LaConner, WA in April 2007. I only wished my gardens looked like that!

Well, that is 'gardener' part of the Gardener's Roost observations. As for the 'roost'...I've seen at least 4 different types of water fowl on the lake this morning, and the pair of bald eagles on their nest. I'd be hard pressed to say which of the water fowl is my favorite, but the buffleheads have to be right up there at the top of my list. They are so cute! Check them out at:

More on the eagles next time. For now, I need to get a big cup o'coffee and warm up!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

First posting...

Welcome to my first post!

There are a few details I should mention right off the bat...

Q) what is this subject of this blog?
A) birds and buds (plants, that is).

Q) who am I?
A) Philosophers have dealt with that question for eons, haven't they? So it is not a simple answer. However for the purpose of this blog, I am a person with eyes on the birds and hands in the dirt...a bird-watcher and a gardener.

Q) why should you visit this blog?
A) I hope to keep it interesting and inform you about the activities surrounding the eagles and eagle's nest I am monitoring, as well as gardening observations, perhaps some gardening frustrations, and just sharing information about gardening in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, there could be entries based on the highlights or interest of the day as well. For instance, today is the day of the NFL AFC and NFC championships. Who are you rooting for? I think that topic, close to my heart, will need to be a separate posting. I'll give you a hint though...I may be a transplant to the Pacific Northwest, but I'm still a New England girl at heart.

Having said that, the game is about to begin...signing off...Aerie-el