OK, Eagle, I Got My Mate with Me This Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove: View from “Base Camp” on Deschutes River. Continuing thanks to Larry and Joyce Caramella for this spot. My cataraft I have named Pequod is tied up on the bank. 

A year ago on a different part of the Deschutes River, I saw an osprey fly overhead with a fish in its talons. A bald eagle was right behind it. Eventually, the eagle got above the osprey and swooped down on it, at which point the osprey let go of the fish. As soon as it did  that, the eagle folded its wings and shot down toward the ground. It picked off that fish in mid-air.

That osprey had to be thinking, “I do all the work, and you just take it away from me like a schoolyard bully stealing kids’ lunch money. Fucking eagles!”

This week, from the spot pictured above, I saw a bald eagle flying across the river, but this time, there were two ospreys harassing it (the pair from the nest on the railroad messaging-wire pole right near camp). I assumed they were protecting young still in the nest. When one of the ospreys would come close, the eagle would flip over onto its back in a flash so as to expose its talons. It did this four or five times before it finally flew off to the east. The female osprey came right back to the nest. The male might have chased that eagle to Pendleton because he didn’t come back to the nest for quite awhile. This proves one more time that females are far wiser than males.

As amazing as the aeronautics of that eagle were, they were nothing compared to the nighthawks I saw the first night out on this trip. Those birds can change direction almost faster than the human eye can see. You don’t see nighthawks when the wind is blowing hard because there are no bugs in the air. The evening wind also means no dry-fly fishing, an unfortunately common occurrence on this river. First evening, great dry-fly fishing, five nighthawks. Last night, heavy wind, no dry flies, no nighthawks.

© 2017 Joseph Galligan

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