Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eagles, part 2

Having been excited about spotting the pair of eagles, we determined to monitor them.  One morning last week we headed back to their favorite area, and as we were rounding the curve uphill from Battery Way, we were astounded to see a deer trotting toward us on the road.  We have now lived here for over four years, and have heard from several people that there are deer living on the island, but we had never seen one.  They are rarely seen, quite shy, and usually come out near the roadways only well after sunset.  But here it was, nine-thirty in the morning, and we see a large stag coming to an abrupt stop right in front of our jeep.  He was at least as startled as we were.  We estimate he weighed at least 100 kilos (220 pounds) appearing to be as large as the largest deer we used to see in our yard in Michigan.  He was about a twelve-point, although this variety has a rack that is more compact than a whitetail’s, thicker overall, and bumpy or ribbed especially at its base.  Steve reached for the camera, but just that quickly, the buck scooted off into the jungle.  Oh, if we could only play back our mental images into a video!
After the disappointment of being unable to photograph the deer, we were lucky enough to spot the eagles’ nest during this outing.  We took a bunch of pictures, and when we got back to the house and examined them closely on the laptop screen, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the nest contained two eggs.  At one point Marcia was pretty sure she was seeing one of the eagles – thanks to its bright-white head and legs – perched in a high tree in the cliff-face several hundred feet from our position.  She took a few telephoto shots aimed at that spot, and again, when we examined the photos on the computer, we found not one, but both adult eagles in the photo.  So we’ve included some long shots along with close-up crops so you have an idea of what we’re seeing through our 320mm camera lens.
Every couple of days we’ve gone back to see if there has been any change in the status of the nest.  On one visit we noted that an eaglet had hatched.  You can see it alongside a parent who is keeping a sharp lookout.  A couple of days later – interrupted by a full day of rain despite the fact that we are in dry season – the second eaglet had hatched.  If you look closely at the photo of the two babies, you will also see a small fish lying at the left side of the nest.  More to come… 
On Saturday we hosted a United States Congressional delegation which was led by Jeff Miller of Florida’s 1St district.  Miller is chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.  Jeff, whom we had previously hosted, was accompanied this time by his wife, Vicki.  Other congressmen in the delegation were Gus Bilirakis of Florida’s 12th, vice chair of the committee, along with his son Teddy; Mike Michaud of Maine’s 2nd District; Tim Walz of Minnesota’s 1st; and Jo Bonner of Alabama’s 1st, accompanied by his wife, Janee.  The group also included several staff, security, and embassy personnel, one of whom currently serves with the 4th Regiment of the U.S. Marines.  His comments led to some good discussion about Generals MacArthur and Wainwright and the surrender of Corregidor, matters traditionally rife with strong and differing opinions.
It was a very friendly group, and all were interested in the story of Corregidor’s role in WW II as well as the part played by Steve’s father, Walter, during the defense of Bataan and Corregidor.  We were honored that each of the congressmen bought a copy of Steve’s book.  The following email arrived Sunday from the woman who coordinated the trip for the U.S. Embassy.
Steve and Marcia,
On behalf of the US Embassy, I cannot thank you enough for donating your time this Saturday to lead an insightful tour. The Congressional Delegation felt they were receiving the red carpet treatment and were reading your book on the ferry ride back to Manila.
It was a pleasure to meet you in person.
Best regards,
We have now had the pleasure and privilege of hosting 11 United States Congressmen, as well as many other VIPs.  We hope to be able to continue to serve them and Corregidor, long into the future.
In addition, we have had several visitors this month of February, some “old friends” and others new.  We’ve met Mike from California, Mike from Nebraska, Jerry from Michigan (close to our old home area of Lansing), Rose from Metro-Manila – friend of a family-friend of Jerry, and then we spent a couple days with returnees Joe and Melissa from California.  We also had a visit from Mikey, originally from California, who now lives in Subic Bay.  While near Kindley Field on Tailside, Steve and Mikey spotted two whales swimming close to shore.  They were at least 20 feet long but mostly stayed underwater, so the pictures Steve took were, not surprisingly, a disappointment.  Nevertheless it was quite a thrill to see whales in the wild for the first time.
Finally, on Sunday we quietly and gratefully celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.  We were married in St. Cloud, Minnesota, on a day following a medium snowstorm.  We’ve now spent five consecutive anniversaries here on Corregidor, with much warmer temperatures, no snow to shovel, and clear blue skies.
Steve and Marcia on the Rock

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