Wednesday, April 14, 2010

6 fish, 2 moose, a herd of elk, and a dead bald eagle

As promised, there is a short story associated with the pictures of a dead bald eagle that have been circling the interwebs. After fishing Upper Rock Creek on Saturday, my friend and I started to head back to the truck. As we wandered back downstream, our path strayed from the creek with the presence of two moose stream-side. Heading away from the stream, we ducked down into a seasonally active side channel. Coming up on the other side of the side channel and onto the floodplain, I noticed a large brown shape lying on the ground about 10 feet away from us. We went over to inspect the shape and indeed it was a deceased bald eagle.

The magnificent bird was positioned as you see it in the pictures above, on its back, head turned to the left, wings holding stiff to the side. After closer examination, it's eyes were missing and the head appeared to be empty. That being said, I didn't get too close to peer in to it's skull. Based on the once over I gave the bird, there were no obvious signs that the bird had been killed (no gaping wounds). The portion of the river where the bird was found appeared to be colder than the downstream reaches. The floodplain was still frozen and patches of ice and snow still lined the banks of the river. Based on the presence of snow and the frozen ground, this portion of the river could be losing water to groundwater. When rivers lose water to groundwater, surface water temps are often much colder during the winter and hotter during summer. As such, my friend and I theorized that the eagle may have been dead for quite some time. Maybe it froze over winter and its plumage was maintained without significant damage. Those are just theories. I reported the "incident" to the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks at the urging of some classmates. It is in their hands now.

The fishing was decent that day. I caught six. Two cutthroat, three whitefish, and a brown trout. I did catch a football sized 17-18'' lady cutthroat. She was so impregnated with eggs, I could barely wrap my hand around one side of her. If one were to point their middle finger and thumb in opposing directions and their hands were as large/small as mine, that would be a reasonable estimate for the half of the girth of this fish. As I went to pose for a picture with the soon-to-be mama cuttie, her will to pro-create drove her to resist my wishes to record her existence and she escaped my grasp and returned to her lair underneath an overhanging willow. Enjoy the rest of the pictures.

Upper Rock Creek Brown Trout

Upper Rock Creek - 4.10

Elk Grazing at dusk - Upper Rock Creek

A Moose - I swear


DarkoV said...

"As I went to pose for a picture with the mama cuttie, her will to pro-create drove her to resist my wishes to record her existence "...

....Hmmm. Sir, recalling dark days in the classroom (and other dark days), I think the "mama cuttie" had already done the pro-creation thing long before when you had her in your slippery hands...

Just making sure you got that "pro-creating" stuff down as your parental units are looking for grandkids somewhere down the road....

Ivan said...

pater, fish do it a little differently. the mama cuttie - make that soon to be mama cuttie - will dig a redd (or nest), then the male and female will release their "sperm" and eggs at the same time. So, the soon-to-be mama cuttie has yet to release her eggs, therefore, ipso facto and prima facie she has not done the deed yet.

DarkoV said...

It's a good thing for you that the pater wasn't a pisces...

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