We’ve had a very mild winter, despite the crummy weather this weekend. Our flora is confused. Our forsythia has taken its merry time to bloom. Daffodils and crocuses seem to be resisting.
A sure sign of spring are the young deer I saw the other morning in the park near my home. But our biggest sign of spring has gone viral. Bald eagles. Once nearly wiped out by DDT seem to be taking over, much like our exploding population of Canada geese.
The real show is at the National Arboretum in DC. It has two cameras perched above an eagle nest and people are spending countless hours watching for the eggs to hatch (one down, one to go), eaglets flopping around in the nest, and mama and papa eagle bringing and eating big hunks of fish.
Here’s the link to the cameras: http://www.eagles.org/dceaglecam/
I was feeling a bit left out. I normally see quite a bit of eagle action on my commute, especially at sunrise. There’s been very little this year. I know of three nests along my route. One is just south of the beltway next to the Belle Haven Golf Course. For several years this nest was occupied but the pair of eagles abandoned it a few years back. It’s very much exposed and right next to the GW Parkway. For whatever reason, it seems to be a popular spot for eagles to visit. In the mornings, I often see an eagle or two perched on a branch near the nest, facing the sunrise.
About a mile farther south, just past the Tulane Drive turnoff is a massive nest. I only found this one a couple of years ago. (Pro trick: keep an eye out for photographers!) By its size, it seems obvious that this nest has been there a long time. It was near the Tulane nest that I found skeletal remains of a Canada goose and a small animal. This one is extremely hard to spot even when you know where it is. It’s also on a curvey section of the trail. Pull over to check this one out.
The next nest, at least until this week, is near the Morningside Drive exit of the GW Parkway, about a half mile further south on the trail. Like the Tulane nest, this one is on the left between the trail and the river. This is a whopper too. And it has been occupied in recent years. I haven’t seen eagles at either the Tulane or the Morningside nests yet.
But there is good news. Right between the Tulane and Morningside nests is a new nest. In fact there used to be two small nests, so small that I thought they might be osprey nests. They were each on wee islets at the southern end of Dyke Marsh. One of the islets is gone, trees and all. The other, closer to the trail, is still in one piece. The other night I spotted two bald eagles at the nest. One keeping lookout the other in the nest. I think we have babies on the way.
So just when winter starts wearing me down, spring lifts me up. In about a month, we will be seeing snapping turtles laying eggs along the trail.
Speaking of turtles laying eggs, the turtles often bury their eggs on the edge of the trail. As I was riding home, I notice several dents in the edge of the trail, about the size of a turtle. Could it be that the excavation the turtles do for their egg clatches are undermining the trail’s edge?
Nature is so cool.
So is my bike commute.
I love my bike commute.