Sometimes in life you have regrets. No one is immune. They can mount up over time. Yes, there are the big ones like not marrying your high school sweetheart (and true love) or not taking that perfect job offer because you wanted to go to Europe instead of starting a career after college. Then there is the time you spent too much on a luxury car to impress a girlfriend. Wow was that stupid! Other regrets are not so catastrophic, like not replacing an old toilet with a new Kohler model. I made the mistake of getting a cheap replacement instead of forking over the big bucks for a top-of-the-line brand. Needless to say, the decision caused problems. Here is my story:
I never miss a bird watch, especially when it comes to raptors, but I had to recently as I was waiting for the plumber to arrive. Anyone who has had issues with sinks and toilets know you usually wait for hours. The toilet in questions overflowed, causing a huge mess as you can imagine. Clean up was prompt but nasty. I rue the day I found a bargain basement model. I was a sucker for the low price. It has not been particularly reliable. This day was supposed s to be special—out in the field among the raptors. We bird lovers all know the best local spots. I wait patiently for these opportunities and take along my digital camera with a zoom lens. Even missing one outing makes me blue.
I was a disappointed sad case, but my friends went without me and reported back a wonderful experience in nature. I live for such days so this time it was vicarious. But it wasn’t my destiny due to the faulty toilet. At least it was repaired and the issue has ended. Next time, I am going to get a new Kohler, and choose which one will look best in my home based on the reviews at http://www.ratemytoilet.net/kohler-toilets-reviews-find-best/. They make superior products including the latest innovations: no touch flushing, self-cleaning, low water flow for us conservationists, comfortable elongated seat, and more. You can opt for an “intelligent toilet” with a cleaning seat. I can’t believe the technology for toilets. It has reached new heights. No wonder the company defines itself as “the bold look of Kohler.” On top of all the great features, you get an elegant modern style. Yes, elegance is what I want in a toilet. Don’t laugh. Of all our home devices, this one gets the most use and attention. Why not get one that looks good.
I am back on track and ready to book some raptor watching time. Meanwhile, I am saving for the best that Kohler has to offer. I am reading the reviews which are endless. People go on and on about their satisfaction. I know they can run in the thousands, but I am no longer going to cut corners. I want durability and reliability above all. I refuse to be a victim of my poor choices.
I am about to tell you the basics of raptors, or birds of prey. You know them by various names but they share keen vision, talons, and beaks. They are evolutionary creatures that can detect rodents during flight. Capturing them is the goal. It is the way of the animal kingdom to target your easy sources of food. When the word comes up, you may think of eagles, ospreys, hawks, buzzards, and harriers depending upon your interest in hunting. While some species are still rare enough, we don’t want to plunder what creatures remain so we limit ourselves to observation, often at night when they are greatest in number. I personally love to take nighttime trips to see them in action, accompanied of course by my best hunting flashlight turned on to night vision mode.
The word predatory has a negative connotation, but basically it is defined by the birds’ practice of hunting and feeding on animals. After all, isn‘t this what mankind does with meat, fish, and poultry. Let’s not give raptors too bad a name. I mentioned their good eyesight which helps them find food. The talons help grip that food, and of course they have a curved beak that has evolved over centuries to tear flesh. Thus, some people fear their presence. They prefer birds in cages that don’t kill other beings. Ornithology is a vast field containing thousands of species, some are more endearing than others.
Usually, we don’t include storks and gulls in the category of raptors since they eat large fish primarily, which they catch with their beaks. True birds of prey by definition feed on vertebrates, or so I have been told. The prey can be larger than the bird itself. When I observe them at night, it is just to see them flying about, not to witness acts of destruction. It can be gruesome. I love the sight of the large eagle with its long, broad wings. It also has impressive feet. I relish the action of soaring with great wings spread. I am not into the eating of carrion although I know this is the raptor’s mode of being. Think of vultures and condors and the havoc they can wreak. They can feed on other birds as well, and various pests to farming such as rabbits. Thus, not everyone fears their presence. There is the balance of nature to consider in this realm. I have caught sight of many buzzards. They are a medium-size raptor known for their broad wings and rather robust constitution. By contrast, falcons have pointy wings and are very swift flyers. Let’s not forget the mighty own, a night hunting bird that silently soars through the sky with little turbulence. Unlike some other species, they have particularly good hearing.
Each of these birds of prey has a place in my hunting journal as I have a good nighttime digital camera. I am into collecting what I witness, not hunting them myself as prey.
Those who practice water recreation usually believe in preserving our beautiful scenic resources. It’s a good cause. After all, they are enjoying them during their leisure hours first hand. No one wants to see debris floating by as they are riding the waves or observe dead fish floating on a lake surface. No one wants to drink chemicals. This attitude goes for water skiers, body surfers, swimming and diving, canoeing, rafting, and more. They all want to respect nature’s bountiful offerings of flora and fauna and hope to see that the waterways they and others use are kept clean and pure. Pollutants used to abound in rivers, lakes, and world oceans. Remember Rachel Carson’s book, The Silent Spring. It caused a major environmental revolution in corporate America to stop chemical dumping of toxic waste. We are much farther along in our panic about the future of our ecological system. We still have sewage issue in the ocean, but we are trying to heed the warning calls.
As a bird enthusiast, particularly the wonderful raptor, I have my own focus on ecology. But we all have a part to play and if we each take a piece of the big puzzle in hand, we will ultimately complete the final picture someday. Over time, it does get brighter and more coherent. I hope it is a good image for all in the end. So I am on board with the water recreation adventurers and I do support their cause. In turn, I hope they will embrace mine. We need more literature on the environment highlighting the most pressing concerns. That, for me, would include endangered species and detrimental bird hunting laws. Who doesn’t believe in the balance of nature in which a bird of prey has a fundamental part in ridding the world of an excess of insects and rodents? If not, you have re-enforced the need for more public education and more exposure.
I, like many people, love water recreation and have my preferred favorite pastimes. I like to take my inflatable kayak out onto the local rivers and lakes, go where the raptor lives to observe and admire this great winged creature in action. I like to photograph them and create a documentation of sorts. I collect photos and videos as well. I am happy to share my findings, but most of all I want to convey my love and concern for the longevity of the species. Meanwhile, I also want to see someone deal with clean water issues and maybe get themselves in government positions where they can make their views known and help enact ordinances and laws.
It is not enough to write and talk about the subject. Some of us have to step up and form organization and support groups. The media can help if you hound them enough on the cause of your choice. They are pretty savvy about waterways and oceans, but not so much on birds of prey. It is my job to keep them informed and up to date. That goes for you, too!