Eagles, Sandhill Cranes….Abundant Beauty

Eagles, Sandhill Cranes….Abundant Beauty

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Pelican flying nearby

It was a most glorious day here along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Sun was abundant and the temperature may have reached 70 degrees. This is my favorite time of year here and makes up for those humid, 90 degree summer days.

After an early morning Pure Barre workout followed by hedge clipping from a ten foot ladder, I wasn’t sure about SUP boarding today but even after the yard work and intense workout, I simply couldn’t miss some river time.

photo copyI hadn’t planned to paddle hard given that I felt my workout needs were met for the day, but the wind–blowing upriver–caused me to dig deep from the beginning and so I resigned myself to finishing the day with another intense workout.

Just past the bridge an osprey sat silhouetted in a tall pine tree. At the corner before Devil’s Hole, two brown pelicans floated along the surface.  Even though I gave them a wide berth they flew off a bit grumpily. As I paddled past the beach at Devil’s Hole, the tree with the heron nest caught my eye as a huge bird moved. The juvenile bald eagle from two days ago was still hanging around. Sweet! This was exciting. Perhaps he or she will be making the river home.

photoDownriver I paddled, digging against the wind but not complaining. Pelicans were floating and fishing on both sides of the river as it widened. When I got to Bemis Bay an abundance of the large diving birds were feasting on my juvenile mullet friends. I was so caught up in watching the pelicans that I nearly missed two bald eagles flying together, touching, grabbing talons briefly and then flying away. Did I just see that? I was in nature-rapture.

photo copy 4Continuing my downriver paddle I came across another bald eagle in solo flight and one more off in the distance. I felt as if I was in a shamanic journey and a new spirit animal was coming to befriend me. I stopped paddling and stood laughing hysterically. What else could I do? It was beyond my ability to take in, to even believe.

Then I looked up, toward the sun, and there was a huge gathering of large birds riding the thermals over the river. No matter how much I paddled, I never got as close as I wanted to. They were very high and gliding air currents in large circles. White wing feathers glistened in the brilliant light and were visible against the blue sky. Sandhill cranes in migration. I have seen this in Florida before but never here.

photo copy 7Could my ability to take-in more beauty expand any more? Then SPLASH! A pelican landed maybe fifteen feet from my board. When I glanced back he was swallowing a fish. Then on a few more minutes and a huge mullet landed less than a board length away from my board after making a big leap.

Great egrets, shining white in their fine feathers, crowned several of the cypress trees as they sat observing the river happenings. I drifted under them on my way back upriver as the breeze gently pushed me.

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Pelicans perched at the no wake zone.

I sit now, reflecting on the abundance of life and extraordinary experiences that happened during my paddle. When I got back to the wide area of the river we call Bemis Bay, I knelt down and watched the two eagles play…or whatever they were doing. Not that many years ago this would not have been possible but thanks to reintroduction efforts, the bald eagle is beginning to thrive here. And come to think of it, so am I.

Thanks for reading. Comment and/or share as you wish. May your day be filled with abundant beauty.

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