[caption align="alignright" width="200" caption="Photo by Alice Liles"]
There were already a few cars parked beside the road when weÂ arrived at the site. One of them belonged to an accountant from Brenham, who had set up two tripods, one with a camera and the other with a spotting scope. Wearing a heavy coat and wool cap to ward off the cold wind, he had obviously been there a while. He invited us to take a look through the scope, and filled us in on the latest activity in the nest. He said at present the two eaglets were visible in the nest.
I looked through the scope, and sure enough, I could see theÂ backs of two little heads peeking up above the nest. Not much to see at thatÂ point, but still, two mounds of fluff in a nest of twigs and branches. AÂ squirrel running around the edge of the nest and under it made it easy to tellÂ that this was one huge treetop construction. Several of the spectators madeÂ jokes about the squirrel not being very smart, considering the parents couldÂ come back at any time and make a meal of him. But maybe he was smarter than we thought, and eagles intent on feeding their young aren't looking for squirrels.
Alice and I took turns looking through the scope with the otherÂ spectators and a few new arrivals. The accountant welcomed one and all and proved quite knowledgeable about birds and the history of the nest. He saidÂ he'd spent a lot of time watching the eagles over the years; he had a notebook full of photographs that he'd taken to prove it. I figured he was setting us up to buy some of his photos, which were quite good, but no, they weren't for sale. He took them just for his own and others' enjoyment.
Later, as I was looking through the scope, I saw one of theÂ parents swoop in and land on the side of the nest. What a dramatic arrival! ItÂ caused a mild commotion among the group, all of whom wanted a glimpse of the majestic creature. Thanks to the spotting scope, everyone had a chance to see him. (And yes, the accountant thought he was a male.)
As we huddled around the scope, waiting for our next turn, we visitedÂ with our companions. It turned out that there were several schoolteachersÂ in the bunch, and a couple of people figured out that they had gone toÂ Stephen F. Austin State University together a few decades ago. I couldn't help but think about the unusual nature of this gatheringâ€”total strangers connecting on the side of a road as they enjoyed watching a family of birds.
By the way, the accountant/roadside birder told us that the eagles would probably stay around until at least April or May. If you havenâ€™t made it to the viewing yet, itâ€™s worth a trip.