Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Look it Up)

This morning we left our overnight lodgings at the Riverdale Inn, on the north shore of the St. John's River, and went to the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute for my one-year checkup of the treatment I had for my prostate cancer. After my checkup (a good report, thank you very much) we headed north for Amelia Island.  On the way we spotted a flock of buzzards in a swamp alongside. I came to a quick stop when I spotted the white heads and tails of two Bald Eagles in amongst the buzzards. Strangest thing I ever saw.
As we stopped it appeared they were all gathered around something dead, and apparently fighting over whatever it was. Naturally I had to change to my longer lens, so a minute or so was wasted giving one of the Eagles a moment to jump up to a tall tree stump.

The second Eagle stayed on the ground near the dead beastie that they'd been fighting over. No way that I know to tell whether this was a mate to the other Eagle or just a hunting companion.

The first Eagle left his perch, jumping down and grabbing the dead beast while the Buzzards whirled around him.

He jumped back onto the tree stump, catching his breath before taking off again, trailing his lunch from his talons.

He swooped around, gathering altitude in a long sweeping circle until he reached another, higher tree. It was farther away and I couldn't make him out with my 200mm lens. The Buzzards finally decided they weren't going to get  their lunch away from the Eagles and left the area, too.

We continued up the coast, taking lunch at Amelia Island and having a short (given the cold breeze) walk around Fernandina Beach before heading north to Savannah. Dinner at the Moon River brewpub near the waterfront, but we didn't spend much time strolling around town since the icy wind was still blowing a gale. Tomorrow we'll head for Atlanta and a couple of meetings before returning to Chattanooga.
While the encounter with the Eagles was the highlight of the day, finding that my PSA has stabalized at 0.4 and my prostate is in good condition a year after the cancer treatment came in a close second. We thank God for his goodness to us.

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