Friday, August 22, 2008

In Maine: Heavenly beauty meets Earthly beauty

An adult bald eagle chills on its perch beneath a mid-morning moon across from my parents' house in Princeton.

My parents and I packed up their 14-foot aluminum boat equipped with a 10-horsepower Mercury outboard and headed out for a day on the lake, Grand Falls Flowage.

There's not much of anything else to do here in Princeton, Maine, but to fish and take photos. Because I'm too cheap to pay for a nonresident fishing license, I'm relegated to taking photos and videos.

The lake is overflowing with wildlife, giving Maine the splendor for which it is widely known. The utmost of these attractions are the bald eagle and the common loon.

Loons are rather skittish and won't let boaters get very close. My father, a wildlife photographer, had to create a bird blind with twigs, mud and an inner tube in order to get some of his best shots of loons. His most famous is the one featured on Maine's loon conservation license plate, the state's most popular vanity tag. You can see that here.

We saw lots of loons, but they were quite far off, left.

Eagles are usually more easygoing. We saw four couples around the lake, only three of which have given birth to an eaglet this year. The childless pair's nest is the closest to my parent's house - directly across the lake. They're the ones featured in these photos.

The eagles weren't too cooperative, though. We chucked some fish into the water, a generous offering for a late-morning brunch. They usually swoop down and grab the white perch, but today, they must have already eaten because they just stayed in their trees.


The perched eagle's mate came along, above, while we were waiting for one to swoop down and grab the fish. The intruder kicked the other off the tree, likely upset that they don't have any youngsters squawking around the nest this year and likely too depressed to eat any fish.

The boat kicks away some lake water.

Though the eagles were rather stubborn, it was a glorious day. I didn't once see a cloud, which is a far cry from what my fellow Floridians are experiencing back in Melbourne. We had a lunch of sandwiches, homemade cookies and Moxie, Maine's official soft drink, on an island in the middle of the lake.

Unlike the eagles, we know when there's a good meal placed in front of us.

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