eagle update

dirtgirl(So. Illinois)April 3, 2006

I am sure some of you are really wondering how things are going with our couple. Well , the real test arived here yesterday around 5:30 in the form of a lovely squall line packing 80 MPH straight-line winds and quarter sized hail. By the time things were done and every one was through assessing the damage in their yards, it was too dark to go check on the big nest and its occupants. My husband gave me the good news this morning though: everything looks to be ok and he could make out the standard white tip of a head poking out above the rim of the nest. Seems the birds likely fared better than many of their human counterparts on the ground, given that there were several barns torn apart, a home, a garage and a car flattened by trees, and power lines in many places ripped from the poles. In fact I myself did not escape unharmed. I was caught about a mile and a half from home on my bike wearing nothing but my biking shorts, a summer-weight jersey and a do-rag. I was really convinced that I could make it to a neighbor's barn less than a 1/4 mile from me but it may as well been 5 miles. When I saw that green sky go white I knew I was headed for some hurting. The area was totally flat, no cover whatsoever and the ditches full of water so my only recourse was to align myself parallel to the wind, set my brakes and brace my feet out ahead of me. I had a separate rain jacket strapped to the bike and I thought of throwing it over the frame and cowering behind this pathetic shield but the wind made this completely impossible. Then the hail was on me and all I could do was try to make my profile as small as possible and keep one arm wrapped around my head. During the worst of it I recall thinking that it felt like I was in the middle of a wet towel fight in a locker room, only everybody had hidden their towels in the freezer and were scoring direct hits on my bare legs and there was no dancing or dodging the assault. I could see the ice bouncing off me and flying past, and the unsettling thing about this was that although snow blows horizontally and rain can blow horizontally I've never seen quarter-sized hail move this way, much less been forced to STAND in the WAY of hail advancing in this fashion.

This morning when I woke up, I decided to get the mirror and look at the backside of my legs. It would appear that they are attached to an idiot who went to a paintball competition at a nudist colony and did a lot of running away.

Then I got on here and read about the tornadoes and deaths all across the midwest and I realized I got off rather lucky by comparison.

Hope everybody is ok, and are smarter than I am and always wear a helmet.

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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi Dirtgirl,
I was thinking about you last night, as I could see that line of storms was passing over your way. We really lucked out. I believe there may have been a tornado about 25 miles south of here, and several others in the state.
I'm learning that hail is usually always present in the northern part of the cell that produces the tornadoes. I guess it is the result of incredibly strong updrafts.
I'm glad you're okay, and that your house is okay, and that the eagles' nest is okay.
I had to chuckle at your description of the back of your legs and what might have caused them to look that way! You silly goose!
And wear that helmet the next time!
Keep us posted on the eagles. And stay away from that paintball competition at the nudist colony! (Better to do alot of running away than running towards!!! ;))

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 3:49PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Isn't that amazing? They built a nest that is stronger than any old roof. We had lots of thunder and lightening up here, wind was blowing pretty good too, rain but no hail. We had hail last year late and that stuff was softball sized! My poor car was sitting outside and there was no way I was going to try and run to it. I would have been knocked out for sure. Anyway, I'm glad you're alright (stay away from those nudist camps from now on!) and I'm really glad the eagles are alright too.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 4:05PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

Now that a few days have passed I have had a chance to get out and see some of the damage. It makes me even more impressed with that nest!! There is a brick house about three miles from here, and in a direct line from where I was hunkered down, and the entire front porch, including part of the garage and roof, is just peeled away--gone. Nearly every fencerow running north to south has the larger trees snapped off in a neat line, all laying to the east/northeast. I learned that we had a series of very intense microbursts, with some packing sustained winds of 70-90 MPH.
A few weeks back we had a similar round of storms, and a boy in a town near here was out the next morning and found a cancelled check that had been blown in from a city in Missouri, over 100 miles from here. He and his folks tracked down the people and told them about it, and they had lost everything but their lives in a tornado.
And I think if my house ever gets wiped out like that, I will rebuild, with large sticks and in a large tree.

Makes me wonder...at the worst of the storm, do the parents try their best to stay over the eggs and protect them or do they just have to flee and save themselves??

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 1:04PM
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I think feathers are pretty tough, and able to absorb the impact of hail, but quarter sized hail sounds like a bit much to me. I wonder if their feathers are damaged and might inhibit their ability to fly efficiently. I can understand your reluctance to wear a helmet when biking off-road. Nobody wore a helmet when I learned to ride, back in the late 50's. I do wear one when riding around town-it's all pavement and concrete around here.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 2:37PM
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