Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 16, 2011

Eagle Park, Part 2

Continued from Eagle Park, Part 1

My eye drifted to tall fins about a half mile east. I squinted. Something was different on top, and I lifted my binoculars. A raptor shape! I had found a perched raptor! You may think that is a “so what” statement, but when you work with a skillful and accomplished birder who sees every speck in the sky (even while driving) and every bump on the rocks, you despair of EVER seeing something before she does. Tricia had predicted that this moment would come, and we exchanged a high-five and then set up the spotting scope to see what raptor it might be.

Spotting scopes magnify the image 30, 45, 60 times... invaluable when birding

The distance made it difficult. We could tell it wasn’t black like a raven, but it gave us no further clues. It sat stock still — for a half hour. Meanwhile, my keen-eyed boss sighted a flying raptor and we lay back on the rock to keep it in our binocs. A handsome Red-tailed Hawk circled effortlessly, peering earthward frequently… and then began an aerial display, rising, diving, rising again, tucking his wings, plunging, over and over again… then drifting north until our eyes lost the speck he had become.

I had given up on the unmoving bird to the east, concluding that it must have been a raptor-shaped rock taunting me, but as I turned my attention to it it took off. Its rufous tail caught the afternoon sun and all the pieces suddenly fit together. She had been the audience for whom the flight display was intended. We had a pair! In my business, a pair is a wonderful thing, and may lead you to a nest if you’re in the right place at the right time.

What a day. Our tiredness only added to the sublime sense of satisfaction we felt. Five hours in Eagle Park was a restorative for our souls; I’ll be back.

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