Jojo and I have been out yakking and canoeing on Lake Monroe this August, and reecently we got to watch a full grown (big) bald eagle circle above us. The wings were significantly larger that a buzzard, and we could clearly see the white head and tail. I grabbed the camera and got this low-res, fuzzy view, but you can make out the white, and the silhouette is all eagle.
The next week, we saw one in a dead tree overlooking the water. We paddled past and stopped to go swimming. After a while we saw one, then another eagle fly over head. First we heard a very unusual calls from the trees where we saw the first eagle, a descending series of resonant tones. The the other full grown and a juvenile were on the shore opposite us, and they called back. We were just out of the water when one of them circled above us, and then flew to the other side of the bay, and dived at the water. We didn’t see anything in the claws, but we were not sure.
It was the longest day of the year Sunday, and Jojo and I took a ride to Lake Monroe to cool off. As we were walking along the shore line, Jojo spotted several colonies of Bryzoans (Pectinatella magnifica) in the water. We had found them two years ago, but last year the water was high all summer, and we found just one small colony.
These animals filter water for bacteria and clay, and although they look very strange, but they actually help water quality. Pectinatella magnifica is the fresh water version of the bryozoan family, which has been on earth since the Ordovician period, nearly 486 million years ago. This means they are one of the oldest animal familys, along with their cousins the corals. The colonies are gelatinous, with the creatures living along outside. They have retractable tentacles that grab tiny particles in the water. We lifted one out of the water, and it seemed to be filled with water. They are reputed to have and oder that repels fish, but we did not smell them.
Here are a couple of videos of them bobbing in the water, and here are some photos.
I saw my first eagle of the year on Jan 22 during a ride on the ice of Lake Monroe. He/she was sitting on the shoreline next to the ice at dusk as I was coming into Pine Grove bay.
I think I saw the same bird (or perhaps a relation) just as I was riding west from Pine Grove ramp. The funny thing is that I had just been talking to a birdwatcher who had come down from Bargersville. He talked a bunch about seeing eagles, and I wished him the best. We both saw a robin hopping around in the snow, I guess they don’t all migrate. He decided to head down to Paynetown, and passed me as I was riding on the snow. A few minutes later an eagle flew across the road in front of me.
It was warm (in the 40’s), and I saw two hawks hunting as I rode, one looked to be an accipitor, but the other was much bigger, perhaps a red-shouldered or red-tail hawk. I didn’t hear them call, which is often the best clue to a bird’s identity, and they look similar in flight.
On the way out of Pine Grove, I watched a great blue heron take off from shore and cross the lake, I am sure he was hungry as all of Lake Monroe was frozen. I heard a few woodpeckers calling as I rode over the ice towards Elkinsville, and I found some tracks in the snow cover the ice. But it was not till I was returning westward, when I spotted three coyotes running across the ice. They stopped and watched me for a while as I watched them, but when I started moving, they took off, one split off parallel to me along the ice, the other two started running towards the south shore.
Then as I came around the last point before heading for Pine Grove ramp, I saw a full grown bald eagle take off heading east, he/she had been standing on the shoreline, no doubt wondering when the ice would melt.
Both Jojo and I felt the need to pedal some, but it was hot humid August, so on Sunday morning we rode a short early loop down Harrell Road and down Schact Road, then across Walnut to That Road and back up the Clear Creek trail and back to the westside via the new “safecut” from the trial via Countryside and Rogers Rds.
By the time we got back we were quite hot, ready to hit the water. We grabbed the kayak and canoe and headed for Lake Monroe, putting in at Moore’s Creek. I took the kayak first, as the canoe has a quiet electric motor, and I have been needing the exercise for my rotator cuff problems I ‘ve had for at least a decade. By strengthening my scapular muscles, I’ve been able to realign my neck, which was the source of my arm pain. I had been favoring that arm, not using it as it was painful, which is the opposite of what I needed to do, which is use the muscles, work them so they become toned and resilient.
We paddled out to one of our favorite spots, beached and swam for a while. Then we moved across the lake and into small bay, and we went swimming again. We then crossed over the water again and found some more spots for diving, swimming and floating around. We got back in the boats and headed back, and as we passed a rock outcropping with large bird droppings, a bald eagle took off right over our heads and headed down the shoreline, and then across the bay.
The clouds kept piling up, as did the humidity, we took a last dip, loaded the boats, and headed home.
While Jojo and I were out canoeing on Lake Monroe during the last week of August, I noticed a large splat of bird poop along the shoreline where we were swimming. I saw there was a large dead tree above, and speculated that it had to be a big bird hanging out in that tree. As we were paddling along the shoreline later, I noticed another big white splat on the rocky shoreline.
Just as I pointed it out to Jojo, a full grown bald eagle took off from a tree above us and flew along the shoreline for a while, then headed across the bay. If you look closely you can see the white on the rocks just to the left of the log in the picture below