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Getting the Inside Scoop

Blogging Friday morning, a text came in from Pam about her sewing machine tension...could I help? Sure, I'll ride over on my bike. After checking the machine and setting things straight, I asked her, "do you want to see a nearby eagle's nest?" How would you answer that question if you were the curious type? I thought so.

Off we went, riding down Ferncreek. It is always great fun showing someone a nearby neighborhood that they've yet to see, and this time was the no different. As we rode down Waterwitch, on our way to the cut-through to Harbour Island, and yes, that is how they spell it, I spotted an eagle in the usual spot in the tall pine tree, lakeside. That is how things started...

Pam was freaking out at how cool it is in Harbour Island, with all of the old trees shading much of the road and beautiful homes, saying she could not wait to show the area to Glenn. I can't say as I blame her because it is a very special place, right off Orange Avenue, that is like being in another world altogether. Before we got to the eagle house I saw a girl a little ways away taking a photograph with her mobile, and I knew that something neat was going on. Indeed it was...this hawk sat and stared at us until I started moving closer, and off it flew.
If you are keeping count, that is two raptors so far. We rode down to the house and were disappointed that there was not an eagle in sight. Boo hoo! After a bit, I said let's ride down this way and I'll show you around a little more. We came across these beautiful bushes filled with blooms that Pam could not immediately identify, although she did guess that perhaps it was a mango.
Anyone who knows Pam's garden prowess knows that her guess is generally an educated one, and indeed she was right. Fragrant as well.

Not quite ready to give up, we rode back to the nest, hoping in the interim something would have changed. We ran into John Mears, (of Mears Transportation for my Orlando readers) while he was walking his two Boxers. We chatted. He'd not noticed the nest until he saw me looking at it, but now his eyes were glued to the tree. Lo and behold, he said I think I see something moving. Sure enough....
Not great, but still exciting. Following the sighting we went on our way, with Pam and I splitting up at the entrance to her neighborhood, but not before we saw yet another hawk fly into the tree canopy over Pershing Avenue!!
Set against the new Spring green leaves it was so pretty, eventually putting on a bit of a show for me. Remember, I am not a nature photographer, only a nature lover!
Wouldn't that have been an awesome photograph without my movement due to my excitement?? Not long after he/she took off toward my side of the street!
And now you know why it is called a Red Shouldered Hawk! Pretty neat, huh? You would think this hawk was accustomed to people as I got yet another photo when it flew onto a hedge.
No eagle, but wow...two hawks in one morning and that is not counting the one we saw way high on top of an Australian Pine out Pam's back door. Amazing, really.

Friday evening we went to a charity event with David and Michelle, sponsored by the Junior League, of which Michelle is a member. It is not often I get a photo of Bruce and one of his sons.
I only wish the elder Peck would have been looking more at me! Held at the former Peabody Hotel, it was a night of fun and bidding on silent auctions. More another time on that topic!

Saturday morning, while Bruce was at the job site, I rode over, once again to the nest. I told you I was in real danger of becoming obsessed! I was so excited when, yes, Mr. Eagle was on the lookout.
Let me put this into perspective for you...
Way the heck up there for sure!

While I was milling about, the gentleman, whose back yard contains this tree, was out working in his front yard, and you won't be surprised to learn that I struck up a conversation. Mr. Joe Stine could not have any nicer had he tried. Oh my goodness, we had such a nice visit, with him filling me in on the eagles, who apparently have been using this nest since 2006!!
Don't you just bet he's been wearing his hair like this for decades? I do. Well, anyone, again Orlando folks will find this crazy interesting, Mr. Stine used to run Harry P. Leu Inc., the business founded by Mr. Leu whose story you will find HERE. If you've ever been to Leu Gardens in Orlando you won't want to miss it. Joe took over the business from his own father, who has a neat mention in this article from the Orlando Sentinel. You may not know it, but mostly I write this blog for myself, learning as I go. I'm fairly confidant most of you never go to the links I add, but I keep adding them nonetheless. How else was I to know that Joe's dad was originally from Charleston, SC? Must be where he got his Southern gentleman manner. He and his wife Joan have lived in this house since the island was developed in 1974.
He pointed out a number of camellias in his yard that came directly from Mr. Leu before he turned the property over to the city! He recounted tales of playing on the grounds of what we now call Leu Gardens. You can imagine I was giddy with excitement! He also told me that generally the eagles only have one eaglet; should there be two they would fight like mad for food. While we were chatting up popped Mama and baby.
As you can see, the sky became overcast during our conversation, making photographs more difficult, however, we did see both parents fly to and fro before papa took up guard once again.
Should you be curious about the dark heads, I've learned, and perhaps you already knew that the eagles generally get their white heads around age five.

Apparently, in 2005, the year of three major hurricanes, the island lost one third of the old trees including a previous nest. We are seeing the latest model. :)

Now you too, have the inside scoop!

Speaking of perspectives, last week when I went to the cemetery, while chatting with some folks, one of the women picked up a pine cone, marveling at the size. My friend Sue loves giant pinecones, so I asked if I might have it for her. Absolutely, she replied. Putting it alongside one of my hibiscus blooms gives you an idea of just how gigantic it is.
Isn't that something?

Are you tired of birds yet? I hope not because this little guy visited recently and I could not get over how RED he is. Come August he won't look anything like this beautiful!
Had enough for today? Watch this space for the next installment which may or may not include some birds.

In bird heaven,

Gail

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