Friday, July 10, 2009

A New Lake, Ospreys and Eagles

My wife and Pat had plans for convening a local conclave of fellow "Goat Ladies" at Pat's place yesterday afternoon to exchange stories and information. So Jack and I decided to go fishing.

Jack took his boat. It's an old 14 foot aluminum v-hull with a 10 horse Evinrude motor that he had salvaged and repaired. He has it rigged with an anchor made of five old double hung window sash weights wired together. That anchor holds us in place in a good stiff breeze. The vessel is just right for two grumpy old men, but would be an insult for those guys with their 200 horsepower engines on their metal-flake fiberglass boats that I call bass bullets with their fully equipped electronic geostationary satellite positioning devices and "you can't hide from me" fish locators.

Anyway, Jack took us to a lake that I had never been to before--- Jungle Lake.

It was a gorgeous setting. Very few homes on the shore. Crystal clear water. Surrounded by forest. And we were the only ones on the water that day. The fish were biting pretty slowly, but steadily enough to keep things interesting. We ended up with our limit of bluegill, perch, sunfish, and rock bass. We also caught a few largemouth bass, but threw them back.

The real highlight of the day, though was the birds. A solo loon serenaded us throughout the day and was diving all around the boat. That loon call is as significant to my northwoods summers as the first robin song is to spring. I love it. For anyone who has never heard the loon's tremolos, wails, yodels and hoots, go here.

There were also two big ospreys out fishing for most of the day. They soar high over the water peering down for fish near the surface that they can swoop down and nab. It's amazing to me that they can not only pick out a fish from so high, especially when there is a good rippling wave on the water, but that they can tell that it is swimming close enough to the surface for them to hit when they stab for it.

At one point, one had come to a hovering stand still about 30 feet over a spot in the water.

Jack said, "Hey, it looks like he's spotted one."

And we both watched as it rocketed down and splashed, only to emerge with its talons full.

"Yup, he nailed it."

But as we watched, it climbed about 15 feet in the air, and the fish dropped back into the water.

Simultaneously we both yelled, "Oooooh! It got away," just like it was one of our fishing buddies right there in the boat with us.

"Hey look. He's still got one though." And, sure enough, he still had one in his talons. He must have caught two at once. Unbelievable.

He circled once, but then started to call out. Normally, they remain pretty quiet when they are fishing.

Soon we saw that a mature bald eagle was headed across the water toward him and the osprey was telling it to get the heck out of there. The eagle seemed to chase the osprey for a while, but then it turned its attention to the dropped fish. Sure enough, that eagle swooped down right where the osprey had dropped his catch and popped it out of the water.

Then the eagle flew low over the water across the lake to perch in its pine, and the osprey went off on its way. I hate to inform you of this, but our national bird is a lazy opportunist.

I looked over at Jack, and said, "Darned eagle is just like a tourist pushing his way into our favorite fishing spot."

To which Jack responded, "Did you ever stop and think that maybe we are the tourists in his fishing spot?"


If you've never seen an osprey fish, it would be worth a couple of minutes to view the following National Geographic clip:

As usual, I failed to bring a camera on this trip. The links to the images used are:

1) Mapquest
2) Loon

3) Osprey in flight

4) Osprey with fish

5) Eagle with fish


  1. Thank you for the link to the Loon calls. I had never heard them before. So beautiful. Great post!

  2. Your new lake looks like a boxing glove.

    We have an eagle that nests not too far from our house. I guess that should say pair of eagles...

    We also have lots of osprey. I love to watch raptors in flight.

  3. Howdy
    Not too sure how I got here but glad I did.
    Have had a wonderful time looking over all the great photos.
    I enjoyed the fishing story.
    I was with you until your friend Jack made a very good point.
    Happy Trails

  4. Ooohh, loon calls on a quiet gem of a lake, pine trees every where you look, the feel of a canoe paddle in my hands, the trail of brown water around the blade. I am so homesick for the northwoods. So far this summer we have only gotten as far as Wildwood park and minigolf at settler mill.

  5. That sounds like a most excellent day. Much better than goat talk (sorry Pricilla). Men need to do manly fishing and watching of stately fishing raptors.

    I would have undoubtedly asked to tag along since I am kind of a nature freak.

    We don't get either of those birds here. Or I should say I see osprey rarely and bald eagles never.

    Nature at it's best!

  6. Wonderful day. I'm sorry you didn't bring your camera. It seems as though that's a sure-fire way to see lots of neat things!

  7. Great piece of writing here! We live along a lake where ospreys live. They make their nests on the top of the power poles, each year adding to the same nest. It is wonderful to watch the antics of young and earlier when other birds are trying to claim the nest for their own. Lovely - peace for all

  8. Hi again Graig ~~ I also enjoyed your post about the fishing trip, by you and your mate and also the big birds. The photos are great. thanks for sharing.

  9. It sounds like you live in a wonderful place, filled with family, friends, wildlife, and good memories/times. :)

    Isn't it amazing to watch an eagle take a fish? It is something that I never tire of seeing....

  10. PS-What is the story behind the little goatley in your header? Talk about precious!!!

  11. What awesome pictures. Did you get any fishing done?

    Big Sloppy Kisses
    Gus, Louie and Callie

  12. I loved Jack's comment about you being the tourists.
    I haven't seen loons or ospreys for so many years. They are incredibly beautiful. I've never had the experience of seeing an eagle up close. That must have been awesome.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful day.

  13. Great post! I think your header is darling too! Sounds like you have a fun life. I'll come back and visit again sometime. Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

  14. So much natural beauty! I enjoyed visiting your blog. : )

  15. OMG!! Those are unbelievable photos!! I'm stunned over here. Those are incredible action shots and the close up of the loon...did you take that one too? It's great. I LOVE the sound of loons calling at dusk over a still lake. I haven't heard one in many year. There's nothing like it.

  16. Oops...I was so taken by the photos, I didn't see your comment at the bottom of your post about the links...still great though, thank you for sharing them!

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