Thursday, August 4, 2011

Raptors close and far

The other evening we attended a party for Coastal Mountains Land Trust, a 25th anniversary party for the land trust in fact, at a lovely seaside estate in Rockport. I could wax on about the 200-year-old house, the gorgeous gardens, the happy occasion, the people committed to such a good cause, but - you know me, I'd rather talk about the wildlife.

We didn't see the two ospreys and their nest, but the owner told us they have been there for 12 years, perhaps even the same pair. A couple of babies fledge every year. Of course, osprey are fairly common on the coast but in this case they nest in a tall spruce in the middle of the lawn, within 50 feet of the house. Clearly they tolerate the close presence of humans, and their noisy parties, including, according to the owner, a birthday do whose fireworks drove away the piano player but not the birds. The fishing must be very good off Deadman Point.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing three bald eagles above our cove. They were too high for me to get a good look, but two of the three were adults and the other a juvenile, it appeared. I imagine them scouting: no, not there, Junior, too many out-of-state plates; how about here? no, it may look good but see the house peeking out of the trees? there's some conservation land but it's not nearly enough; sorry son, I'm afraid there's just too much development of this side of the bay, let's go back to the islands and the preserves, after all we're not osprey who'll nest just anywhere.

I don't care how far an osprey lowers itself; I'm just thrilled to see one anytime, anywhere. That an eagle would come close to my house, my car, my pollutants is even more thrilling. We don't see bear or moose in this part of Maine, so raptors are our symbol for wildness. To me it's much less a matter of wildlife getting used to humans. It's that humans, through lands trusts and their benefactors, are working hard to keep wildlife wild, in all its guises.

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