I hope the new year brings you much joy, delight and peace through your outdoor adventures.

For some reason, I believe with the addition of a new number to our year, I can leave behind the tumultuous, the acrimony and heartache from last year and bring out the sunshine and positivity through new open eyes and heart.

If you love seeing bald eagles like I do, then I hope you find some excitement in what I am about to write.

I am a “Nature Noticer.” I have been that way for approximately two score and 10 years. Always looking at the outside world for fascination. The resplendence of our natural world with birds, trees, sounds and sights have brought me great joy.

Well, recently bald eagles have been seen in plenty around our area. Some are seen high in the sky and others fairly close.

For us from an older generation, seeing an eagle at all, or any bird of prey, was only in distant, hidden places in Alaska, Idaho or Minnesota. Being an aloof species, their hideouts were few and far between because of poisoning of the ground and sky. Very few people seemed to notice or care about the disappearing birds and animals.

This was back in the 50s through the 70s when big companies ruled the world and were allowed to do whatever they wished to land, water and sky. (Unfortunately, the present administration has allowed weakening of laws put in place for protection that could send us spiraling backwards. Not good!) My apologias are set when wildlife, clean air, pure water, safe soil, and future generations are at stake.

Seeing a bald eagle will always be a wonderful sight. At Hillsdale Lake you can find some who love to hang out on the west side of the dam in a dead tree. Maybe they are counting cars for the park… possibly watching some feeble waterfowl for a meal...or just because they truly like this tree in which they can sit on and collect local avian gossip.

If you go into the park and wind around the roadways to a place with no other people, stand very quietly and look ...really look and listen… there will be one or two in trees or in the sky. When my husband, grandson, and I went for a nature outing, one of the first things I saw was an eagle circling the lake against the clear, blue sky. Magnificent!

One day while I drove north of Paola on Silver Street, I looked skyward and saw a pair of eagles near Messers’ old farm...or the peppermint-striped farm... floating about 100 feet off the ground heading west. Driving and observing are not the best match, so I slowed to a crawl looking out my window. I soon noticed a car behind me and they too were looking in the same direction. Maybe a fellow birder? I don’t really know, but I do say it sure made my day.

Wea Creek is a likely place to observe eagles. My daughter, Zoe, lives near the bridge crossing by the Catholic Cemetery, and has seen them flying or sitting in the large trees along the water. She also drives her children to a bus stop along south Hospital Drive by the water treatment ponds. Along there, and Wea Creek, they have seen some sitting in fields eating carrion, up in trees and some flying just above the treatment pond water.

She stopped her car once as one flew right at her and opened the windows so her young son could see his first bald eagle as it approached them.

“Look! Look! Do you see the bald eagle?” she said.

The young fellow in the back in his safety seat screamed, “Close the window! Him is going to get me! Close it!” He hasn’t yet caught his grandmother’s adoration and zeal for all things brilliant and beautiful.

The pond on 68 Highway east of the roundabout is flurry of waterfowl. But I have also observed a bald eagle on the south edge getting a drink.

Yesterday, driving along a snowy field on 169 Highway just north of the Hillsdale exit, I caught sight of an eagle eating a meal with a rook of crows surrounding it, waiting for their turn.

Here again is my apologia...if you put down the phone, turn off the TV in the car, look out the windows, get outside more, unplug the ear thingies, observe, keep your eye on the sparrow or junco or cardinal or bluejay or chickadee you will be amazed at what you can learn and enjoy all around you.

I am just thrilled at what birds and animals I have discovered throughout my life.

Keep your eyes and ears open to new sights and sounds of nature.

Beth Conner is a Miami County resident, teacher and outdoor enthusiast. She can be reached at bethconner2019@gmail.com.

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