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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Wildlife on a cold, early morning

By John Hall/Missourian Reader
January 8, 2013 | 5:57 p.m. CST
Missourian reader John Hall shares this picture of an eagle perched atop a tree in the early morning hours of a cold January day.

John Hall frequently photographs his mid-Missouri surroundings, and he has been sharing his images with the Missourian for several years.

It all started out with sunrise yesterday morning at 3:30. Well, maybe the sun didn't rise at that ghastly hour, but one dog sure did, and that was the end of sleep as I knew it for about another 18 hours. The dog that arose early was the exchange dog for the day. That means he had to go home with his real owner, or so the owner thinks. When the droopy dog left, he was replaced by one that would pull a sled if I'd let him. The rambunctious dog started glaring at me before the sun came over the nearest mountain, of which there aren't any, but it sounds good. I kept telling the big guy that we'd take a morning ride as soon as the sun came over that slight rise on the eastern horizon.

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As these photos depict, I was out on the frozen tundra by sunrise, and after a few minutes the glare was fairly intense; that didn't do picture taking much good. But, we saw a few things such as ducks, a few more ducks and juvenile American bald eagles scattered here and there around the wildlife area.

I was struck by one thing: The ducks are more in evidence when the hunters put away their heavy artillery for the season. I was wondering if duck season had come to a conclusion or if something else had caused the dearth in the number of vehicles in the wildlife area at the first glimpse of the roads by dawn's early light.

When I got into that place, I found the roads slicker than Crisco rubbed on a brass door knob. I thought about turning around and heading out of there, when the big-enough-to-be-sled dog told me not to even give it a second thought.

So, we drove from one end of the frozen tundra to the other and along the way snapped a couple of photos. None are suitable for framing, but if you don't look too closely a couple of them aren't all that bad. Too bad that I didn't have a camera tripod or even a mono pod with me for taking photos of the eagles with a 15 pound lens. That feat of weight-lifting demands more than two arms that have long gone past the three score and ten plateau. But, that is an excuse, and as cold as it was early this morning, you're just darn lucky the sled dog talked me into making that trip. The next time I go "eagle hunting," I'll take the tripod and then probably will forget the big camera. Some of you might not realize what the ravages of "three score ten and more" can do to the mind and body. But, if you haven't arrived there yet, you will.

If you can't see the slideshow embedded below, click here to view it on Flickr.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor is Joy Mayer.