S: MY JOURNEY WITH THE NBG EAGLES (and their friends) Memories by Judy Johnson
BC: EAGLE ON!
FC: MY JOURNEY WITH THE NBG EAGLES (and their friends) | Memories by Judy Johnson
1: It all started when a friend told me about a bald eagle nest on a web cam in Virginia...Wow! This is incredible! Little did I know at that moment what these precious little "bobbleheads" were going to mean to me and what a huge meaningful part of my life they were going to give me. | On April 26, 2011 the female eagle was killed by an aircraft. Eagle Nation mourned. But what followed was an upswelling of love that connected thousands. This is the story of my journey with the Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagles! | Screen captures above courtesy of Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Center for Conservation Biology, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and WVEC-TV. Thank you for giving us this window into the lives of these magnificent creatures!! | It | Nights I watched and learned from the incredible moderators ("mods") and the other viewers - it was such a very cool community of people interested in eagles. And then tragedy struck.
2: May 21, 2011 - My first journey to Virginia was to pay tribute to Mom Norfolk and hope to see Dad - perhaps I should say the Female and the Male. But I will always think of them as Mom & Dad Norfolk. | I'm so glad to be here!!
3: Such powerful emotions!
4: After visiting the nest tree I set about exploring the gardens. What a wonderful place! | I love these funky flowers & the mystical crepe myrtle grove! Spectacular rose garden and cool eagle statue near the Statuary Vista.
5: A Great Egret on the Virginia native plant habitat walk. I completely fell in love with the Norfolk Botanical Gardens!
6: After spending the morning at the gardens with no sighting of Dad, I headed back to the hotel and googled "restaurant on the water" and came up with "One Fish Two Fish" in Virginia Beach. This wonderful spot is on Long Creek minutes from the Chesapeake Bay. It was quite simply perfect! | The ubiquitous vacation meal picture!
7: As I explore Virginia Beach I see signs for Fort Story, so I head that way not realizing this is a serious military installation. Intense car inspection with mirrors looking under the car! When asked where I was going, I responded "just riding around". The soldier responded "Ma'am you can't just ride around a military base - you must have a destination." | Luckily I had seen the signs about the lighthouse - my destination!
8: Back to the gardens for one more hunt for Dad - no luck but still felt the raw emotion of being there under the nest tree...this is what I wrote that day: | IN MEMORY OF OUR WONDERFUL MOM EAGLE - MAY YOU SOAR IN THE HEAVENS! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR WONDERFUL BABIES AND THE GIFT YOU GAVE THE WORLD IN BRINGING SO MANY PEOPLE TOGETHER. YOUR EAGLETS WILL SURVIVE & THRIVE WITH THE LOVE OF SO MANY PEOPLE. IF ONLY THEY KNEW!
9: Sunday as I leave I head west toward the James River to check out Westover Plantation where Ed Clark says he usually releases eagles. Beautiful historic place! And I saw an eagle immediately upon my arrival!! | And then I saw a 2nd eagle! Ha!
10: Wow! Fabulous house, grounds, view and a working plantation - a peaceful historic wonder on the James River! And right across the river is the James River National Wildlife Refuge - established to protect nesting & roosting habitat for bald eagles. Lots of adults and juvies for our babies to learn from!
12: Strolling along the grounds, I noticed clusters of mushrooms - they always captivate me! | As I walk through the Westover gardens, I am thankful for this first visit to pay tribute to the beautiful female eagle of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.
14: Eagle Release On April 27, 2011 our three eaglets were removed from the nest and taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Our web cam eagle nation continued as we observed them grow and learn to fly under our watchful eyes. And now the day has come at last for them to soar free like the eagles they are! | I arrived about 2:00pm on July 26, 2011 at the Edgewood B&B - a quaint circa 1849 plantation run by Dot & Julian Boulware. My room was "Sarah's" and featured an ornate 1790 canopy bed. Dot, with a flair for the dramatic, led me on an entertaining tour - boy does she have some stuff!
15: I set up my night stand with "Eagle" Muscadine wine from my friends Holly & Debbie and my Duane Noblick Seasons of Eagles.
16: First I explored a bit and then relaxed on the front porch with the computer reading the blog & watching the eaglets for a last little bit in their WCV home. Two other couples arrived: Lois & Lou from Venice, Florida and Sheryl & Tom from Orlando. We all had wine with Dot and then went to dinner at the Charles City Tavern. Very good - I had crab cakes of course! | After dinner I headed over to Berkeley Plantation (the release site & the site of the first Thanksgiving). Saw a deer just as I pulled up to the edge of a field - perfect!
17: I passed a car coming out as I was coming in (relevant later in this tale) - I just waved like I was supposed to be there. Directions said go past the small silos on left and then just past sunflower field on right. Beautiful farm scenery. Drove down to the river's edge and stayed till dusk - no bald eagles, but incredibly peaceful & yet exciting in anticipation of tomorrow's release - I want to say launch! Maybe that is an appropriate description.
18: I headed back to the B&B and sat out on the front porch after it got dark reading the blog while Dot entertained Lois & Lou. The two sisters Judy & Jo from Pennsylvania arrived late & I met them briefly. Off to bed - tomorrow is the big day! | The day has arrived! July 27, 2011 The instructions said that Berkeley opened at 9:30, but I left the B&B about 7:15. I saw one police car, but drove right by again like I was supposed to be here. When I got to the release area, there was only one other person - Jim Deal, another photographer who later introduced me to Duane Noblick, whose books I have. It was so exciting - the anticipation mounts as people begin to arrive - the eaglets are coming!! | Girls on the porch morning of the release! And Dot! (courtesy of Lois & Lou)
19: Banner at entrance - beautiful sequence of shots of Mom Norfolk by Jim Deal | The crowd gathers! | The view from my spot - eaglets to be released facing away from the water so they can get their bearings. | A juvie flies overhead! The American flag represents the non-NBG eaglets. A record quintuple release today! | On a sunny July day in Charles City, Virginia, eagle fans gathered from far and wide...
20: And now it begins. Donna Krabill from NBG introduces Ed Clark (who needs no introduction - Ha!) of WCV to bring out the first of the other eaglets. | Hampton Eagle - found emaciated in a field June 3, 2011
21: "That's what I'm talking about!" | He heads across the James River as a rescue boat looks on.
22: King & Queen County eagle (found tangled in netting at landfill on July 14, 2011) takes to the air with the assistance of Dr. Dave McRuer!
23: AND NOW FOR THE ROCK STARS!!! The flag changes to "Her Legacy Continues!" | Dr. Miranda Sadar does the honors for our big girl NZ! | "Cameras Up!"
24: And so the first of our beloved NBG eaglets soars to her freedom as she was meant to do. NZ, may you carry on the legacy started by your fabulous Mom - a very special eagle! You are supported by thousands of those "earth walkers" who love you! | And she's gone!
25: NX - the little eagle that tried! | Little did I know that NX had an encore performance planned! Even then she was a Diva! | Released by Steve Living of the Virginia Dept of Game & Inland Fisheries - she doesn't look very happy with him!
26: Okay this is it - we must say the final good bye to our precious eaglets. Ed Clark is going to release NV - the little male. The one that "fell out of bed in the middle of the night" and "caused a meltdown of the phones at WCV - now really this did not constitute a medical emergency" but..."he was the first to leave the nest!"
27: "Cameras Up! 3 - 2 - 1!" | Clearly this is not easy! | Twin expressions!
28: "It does not get better than that!"
29: "Life as they know it is over... | Life as it should be has begun."
30: What an amazing incredible emotional experience! I hung out a bit to speak to Ed Clark & Dr Miranda. Saw Vinnie and Ben - interns made famous by changing the water in the eaglet's pen! Took pictures of Ed receiving a carved eagle shovel for the groundbreaking of Buddy's new enclosure - Ed clearly loved it.
31: As the crowd was dispersing I set up my chair overlooking a field and the James River and opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate! And then "what's happening?" A van pulls up in the field and then Vinnie runs by in front of me. NX apparently did not head out, but only went to the trees where she was recaptured. So now a 2nd attempt to release her - wow - so glad I was still there! | Off she goes flying low over the field - can she make it?
32: OH NX too low - can you gain some altitude?! | Maybe... | No baby girl NX is just not ready to go - back to the center!
33: WOW! A singularly spectacular day in my life! | Berkeley Plantation Site of the First Thanksgiving And what a day of thanksgiving it was!
34: Before leaving Berkeley I drove down to the water's edge & hung out with some Virginians - they were the ones I passed the night before! Super enjoyable - we saw a couple of juvies, an osprey with a big fish and a snake swimming. Rode around a bit more toward Westover. Saw an adult eagle flying! Later went to dinner with Judy & Jo to Dockside and lo & behold there are my Virginia friends! Eagle Nation!
35: Thursday morning I got up early & went back to Berkeley - drove down a road with a sign that said don't go w/o permit. But I did - oops maybe I shouldn't mention that. Saw an osprey, great egret & juvie fly-by. Went back to the release site for one last memory. Read the 1st Thanksgiving history - cool!
36: Took cut thru road to Westover - headed toward 1st perch tree. Yep, there is a juvie! As I returned a guy stopped me - said they weren't open and I had to leave even though I said I was looking for eagles. But as I was leaving he apologized and then told me he thought our babies were on the dock late yesterday and I was welcome to go walk the grounds. I saw an adult & one juvenile on the trees above the dock. Not good light, but there were eagles!
37: Departure breakfast with Judy & Jo along with our hostess Dot! | Soar on our NBG Eaglets! What special memories I will always cherish!
40: That incredible eaglet release weekend led to making new Eagle Nation friends including Judy Schartel & Jo Jackson, sisters from PA, and Lois Abrams & Lou Salhany, a great couple from FL. We decided to meet up again for the Mom Eagle Tribute Plaza Dedication on October 15, 2011. We stayed in Richmond as we were also going to The Wildlife Center of Virginia open house on Sunday. Another eagle adventure begins! | I drove up on Thursday and arrived about 7:00pm. Had a fun dinner with Lois & Lou at TGI Fridays. Poor Judy got in late due to plane troubles. Early Friday morning we started our fabulous weekend with Capt. Mike Ostrander on his "Discover The James Bald Eagle Tour"! We saw 10-11 adults & a couple of juvies! | First sighting! We are so excited!!
41: Our first sighting-an adult & a juvie | Migrating Canada Geese (I always said Canadian) | Adult seems to be chasing the juvie off - time to go on your own!
42: I didn't get any sharp images of a fish capture, but still cool to see! | Uh-oh empty talons! | Got it! | Coming in again...
43: Happy crew - we are seeing lots of eagles!!!
44: Incredible James River scenery!
48: Eagle landing above an old osprey nest
49: Pair with Nest!
52: I have to say these were set up fish scenes - Capt. Mike caught bait fish early in the morning, kept them in a cooler & then filled them with a syringe of water to stay buoyant. His eagle friends were quick to partake!
53: Bad hair day! | An osprey joins us in the skies
54: Pictures not so crisp, but... | cool landing & take-off!
56: This experience was simply stupendous, marvelous, awesome - what words can express it!?!
57: More views along the James River
58: The snag | Hmm...I think my friend Capt. Mike has left me a gift...
59: Fine dining or to go!
60: Happy Chilly Crew!!! What an amazing experience! Many thanks to Capt. Mike!
61: Marina at Richmond Yacht Basin - home of Capt. Mike Ostrander's "Discover the James" A most amazing bald eagle tour! | Beautiful bluff on the James | My two favorite flight shots on the following pages!
64: Friday afternoon takes us to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond | Really cool Pitcher Plants | This one has a little visitor!
65: Castle of nature made from young tree saplings
66: Silly Judy | Funky texture trunk... got a "Gumby" feel to it! | What a great day!!!
67: And now for the main event: Eagle Tribute Plaza Dedication Live the Legacy... Celebrate Nature October 15, 2011 | I arose early and headed to Norfolk w/o my compadres. I felt the need to wander in the gardens alone.
68: Resident Great Blue Heron - early morning sunning! | Mermaid on Parade - a symbol of Norfolk
69: Eagle Peeps gathering. Caught up with Judy, Lois & Lou. Above - me with cute little eagle dessert!
70: Our guide on the garden boat tour | What used to be Mom & Dad's favorite fishing tree until the branch broke off in a storm | Very realistic Great Blue Heron sculpture | Flock of cormorants take off on Lake Whitehurst
71: Awaiting the unveiling!
72: Steve Living - Wildlife Biologist with the Virginia Dept of Game & Inland Fisheries | Reese Lukei - Research Associate with the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary and our hero | Tod Smith - President & GM of WVEC-TV
73: MVK & Shoebutton - two of our awesome moderators! | Holly Lamar is introducing her world premier of "Eagle" when someone shouts "EAGLE!" | OH MY GOD - it's DAD! Hugging, crying! Our eagle nation emotion drew him here - of that I feel certain - of course Reese was trying to take credit for scheduling the appearance. Dad was just a bit too early - we hadn't unveiled the statue!
74: I swear - maybe Reese was telling the truth - Dad is looking toward the statue! Someone dragged Holly back to the stage.
75: Magnificent sculpture by David Turner It was the perfect portrayal of a very special eagle!
76: Blowing eagle kisses
77: My gift to Ed Clark & WCV - NV at that "ah-ha...I am free" moment!
78: Holly Lamar flying like an eagle! | Holly & Ed - great smiles of eagle nation joy!
79: I hung later that night with photogs, Virginia (James River) friends, Holly, Ginger & her Mom - dusk approaches, then "Eagle"...my camera captures a mystical magical moment! | Talked with this couple - she was dying of cancer. I told her "I'm so glad you experienced this day!" As am I!
80: Celebrating another incredible eagle nation experience! I connected the laptop to the television and we watched the pictures of the weekend. We saw Dad!!! Wooo Hooo!
81: WCV Open House October 16, 2011 I again rose early and went to the Wildlife Center of VA in Waynesboro ahead of the rest. Did a little bit of hiking adjacent to the center - Bear Oak Trail. Very pretty!
82: Views from the Blue Ridge Parkway! I also went to a hawk watching place Ginger White (from Charlotte) told me about the night before - behind a hotel. Boy were those folks good! They could spot a "sharpie" before I even saw a speck. Pretty amazing!
83: WCV Open House! | Amanda & Peg the opossum who has since passed away - goodbye Peg! Thank you for your work as a wildlife ambassador!
84: Awesome behind the scenes views!
85: And now to the outdoor facilities...
86: The Wildlife Center of Virginia A hospital for native wildlife | Teaching the world to care about and to care for wildlife and the environment!
87: BUDDY! Hatched April 27, 2008 | Our eaglets' older brother who contracted Avian pox which caused a deformity in his beak making him non-releasable. Now a WCV wildlife ambassador!
88: It was a very special opportunity to visit the Open House at The Wildlife Center of Virginia - a place I will always support for their incredible work with so many animals and people!
89: We had a lovely lunch of wine & cheese at Veritas Vineyard & Winery | No she did not wet her pants! Ha!
90: Funny owl chair creature! | CHEERS! For the love of eagles!
91: What can I say - I am so glad to be a part of this eagle nation! My first year 2011 with the NBG eagles and their brethren on the James River brought both tragedy & joy! Also new friends and a connection with a very special place - I am forever grateful for all that it has meant to me.