The big birds, the little goats and deer

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I was trying to start a column on something in the news office when circulation manager and fishing editor Jeremy Pyle interrupted with an important video on his cellphone of an eagle attacking a mountain goat. I watched it.

The European golden eagle was caught on video picking up the goat and dropping it off a ledge in The Alps. The eagle then swoops down, but the mountain goat lived and got away.
Nature is wild.

I have seen a lot of wildlife in the last few days. Unfortunately, not all of it was alive.

I stopped to pick up an alligator snapping turtle by parking in a safe place off a roadway and walking up to it. It was still on the shoulder. However, it had already been hit and was dead.

I saw what appeared to be a fox dead on Cornwell just north of Bass Avenue Friday morning. I did not stop there in city traffic. It is dangerous to stop and move dead or injured animals, so I feel obligated to mention to readers that the best way to handle this is to report such non-emergency sightings to police or animal control officers.

I love seeing wild animals and being outside. I know the animals don’t want to see people, though. I mostly like to hike with my children including Rob, 14, who has autism. In fact, we love to see and catch fish, but avoid handling hooks. No one wants to spend an afternoon in an emergency room with a treble hook in a finger. When Rob was younger, he had a thing about grabbing anything and everything in the tackle box and throwing it into the lake. So, I’ve had to hide hooks. He still loves throwing things into bodies of water.

One day, we figured out a way to catch a fish with a string, a pole and live bait only, no hook. From a cane or long tree branch or stick, tie some line to the tip and then loosely tie the other end around a big grasshopper. Drop a line and watch the ‘hopper float. You woulnd’t believe we have caught small catfish this way, of course needed a fishing net to help land them. My son Sam, 5, doesn’t support using the grasshoppers, though. Has something to do with Jiminy Cricket, he protests.

The great egrets, the large white wading birds around these parts, fish in that same spots where we try to catch the fish. The egret is there when no people are around and seems to make a living. The herons and egrets are birds that fly high enough to avoid traffic, usually. These huge birds are numerous across Canadian County skies. I’ll work on getting some photographs soon.

A neighbor told me he saw a bald eagle grab a goose out of the air above the unnamed reservoir in undeveloped northwest Oklahoma City. Eagle populations have been on the rise in recent years after decades of being threatened.

As for big local mammals, the Luther Register News has reported a recent bear sighting on the east side of the Oklahoma City metro area. The black bear was spotted near Indian Meridian and the new turnpike loop.

Each morning, I see the wetlands around the North Canadian River full of a variety of Oklahoma birds. There are pelicans, seagulls, and herons and various egrets.

This week I had an opportunity to meet Lauren McGough and her black eagle from Africa named Mokala. I had never written about falconry or how to capture and train a wild animal.

There will be more to this story, see page 1A of the Yukon Progress, Wednesday, June 3. Mokala was on a cord when she flew in front of me for the story and pictures. But McGough said Mokala will fly a lot further in the fall. Hope to follow up on this story.

On my nightly walks, I’ve noticed it being lighter later and of course, hotter. With temperatures in the 90s about 9 p.m., I walked along an open field looking away from the houses and lights of Oklahoma City to the east and the darker skies across less populated areas south of Piedmont. The lights of Piedmont glow to my northwest.

Bowie the Newfoundland poodle, (Shetland pony-size) suddenly sat down and looked at something move on the western horizon. About 40 yards away, a very young buck stood looking at us. He had to have been born in the spring. I wasn’t even sure it had horns or the beginning of such growth. He leaped over a barbed wire fence with the distinct movement of a deer, not that of a bobcat or cougar or dog, but that way the deer leap. There is nothing like it. Following him was definitely a doe, couldn’t have been much older than the buck. She jumped over the fence too and was gone.

I caught the deer on the cellphone camera. The sun was setting and the silhouettes of the deer were nothing short of mystical.

The land will have 150 more houses in two years. The deer will run to other open land. The birds will fly to new habitats. These are animals that adapt. Just like the coyotes that I don’t hear howling at the fire truck sirens as much any more. But they are out there.