The Circle of Life

Hello everyone! This morning’s bird count was one for the record books! We were on one of our last ponds, and were coming around the corner of a bend when I noticed something in the road. Before I could speak, a Peregrine Falcon flushed from the ground while attempting to pick something up! Ricky and I both “Woaahhed” in excitement. We slowly inched forward to find that the breakfast of the peregrine was a Pied-billed Grebe. We acknowledged that we had interrupted the falcon’s meal, and kept moving and decided we were going to attempt to get some shots of the falcon eating from further away. We drove up the road a bit, parked the truck, and walked to a spot far enough away from the bird so as to not disturb it. We set up the tripod and the scope and within minutes the falcon landed and began a sneaky trot back to its prey. We watched as it vigilantly checked its surroundings and then began to feed once more. Many may find this to be a gruesome scene, but having an understanding for nature, wildlife, and the outdoors, you realize that it is a part of life, the reality of nature, and, frankly, an amazing opportunity for us to watch. I feel privileged to have been at the right place at the right time…..and to think I get paid for this!!

Even more coincidental is the fact that right after this event we observed a Canada Goose pair and its chicks just scooting along in a pond. One parent goose was leading the pack, while the other stayed tucked low with the chicks. So, in the span of under half an hour, we were able to observe the end of a life as well as the beginning of life for some goose chicks. Connecting the dots I told Ricky, “Wow, we are observing the entire circle of life today!”

So today, being the beginning of the end for me, I look back and am grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have been able to accrue with EFTA and the BLM here in the San Luis Valley. I started with very little experience, knowledge and understanding, similar to the goose chicks, and have grown into a knowledgeable and experienced environmental steward, naturalist and wildlife biologist. Although I have a long way to go, I’d like to think that, similar to the Peregrine Falcon, I can now handle my own!

Farewell, los pajaros! Best of luck to all the 2018 EFTA crew! I know you all will grow tremendously with this experience, and want to remind you all to appreciate everything you have been through up to this point and, more importantly, never forget where you started!

Goose pair and chicks scooting along the pond attempting to evade detection.

Alexander Mullins
[email protected]
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