First, because I fell asleep last night before I could remember to post him, an old friend:
Now: this evening marked Try No. 4 in the ongoing quest to rediscover the Kilduff Road eagle. As we stalked up and down the road, into the quarry and back out, beside the beautiful barn and then past it, to the edge of the bridge and then back again, my Clevelander student told me that yet another person had told her today, "Oh, yeah, I've seen the eagle." Everyone (including me, you'll recall) had seen it, it seemed, but that fact did nothing to bring us closer to our goal of seeing said eagle ourselves.
As we stood near the quarry, we spotted an oncoming swarm of starlings, and to me this was some kind of revelation. It was a tornado of birds. It was the sky come to seething. I could have wanted them back over and over, even knowing what a nuisance they can be on the ground.
And then, after we spent some long, idle time lolling about on the road, talking through what's happening in these first days of my student's classes and these last days of my being here, I saw a large, dark bird drift into the trees beside the river. We shifted so that we could stare down the river--toward where we saw the heron last night--and I joked that I would not be willing to forge into the trees in order to try for a better look. Finally, we decided to try one more walk toward the quarry, in the hopes that the dark bird would turn out to be the eagle--and would turn out to want to shift to a less shady resting place.
Suddenly--and now, I'm not even sure why it was that either of us was turned around when it happened--the eagle was flying over our heads, out of the woods and across the road and toward the woods further downstream. We both flailed in our excitement. I'm deeply grateful that my camera turned out to be set almost to where it needed to be. Almost. Had there been time, I'd have lengthened the exposure so that his head's white feathers would be more visible. But considering that I could have gotten nothing, I'm pretty pleased.
After he passed us by, he landed in the top of a riverside sycamore and perched there for the rest of our time on that backroad. We waited patiently for awhile, hoping that he would decide to fly back acros sthe road, but he seemed to have gotten comfortable. Or--and we certainly entertained this possibility--he was simply mocking us, up there on his perch. This latter idea seemed plausible to us; perhaps he's been watching us all week.
In any case, seeing him was an unexpected ending to what had seemed as though it was going to be an eagleless outing--though not a birdless one, as we'd already totaled up all the flying wildlife we'd seen (the starlings, ducks, geese, last night's mystery bird, last night's heron, a group of crows, many mourning doves, many other Miscellaneous Small Birds). "I'm keeping my promise," my student said as we approached her car. "I promised him that if he let me see him, I wouldn't keep coming back and bugging him." It seems a fair enough deal.