When I posted the bald eagle fact I remembered an encounter with an eagle I had when I must have been probably about 8 years old.
As you all might know by now: I grew up in the Swiss mountains. We have eagles too. We call them Steinadler, or Golden Eagle. The Golden Eagle is about the size of a bald eagle, with a mass of up to 4.5kilograms.
The King of the Skies, as the golden eagle as it’s also called, reaches a wingspan of up to 2.2 metres. The Golden Eagle is the only large predator in Switzerland to have survived the days of ruthless persecution during which the bearded vulture, the lynx, the wolf and the brown bear were exterminated. Meanwhile, the population of the Golden Eagle has recovered and is now almost saturated in the Alps. Due to the large number of unpaired single Golden Eagles, territorial pairs are repeatedly involved in disputes. They are therefore regularly absent from the eyrie, which reduces breeding success.
Enough about the facts, otherwise this will turn into another of my Did You Know posts and that was not my aim…
As I said, I must have been about 8 back then and my Dad took us on one of the hikes up in the mountains. I remember that the day started off as blue sky and warm. A usual fall day. He was always a very careful man, keeping an eye on weather conditions to make sure we would not end up in any issues. However, for whatever reason we suddenly found ourselves in thick fog on our way back to either the valley itself or to the place where we could take the gondola off the mountain.
Eagles were very rare back then, still are today. So whenever we were out there hiking we tried to spot one, which up to this day never really happened.
There we were in thick fog, trying not to lose track of our little path and making sure we do not slip. It’s difficult to really know now how bad the weather was then and how much my fantasy played into it. All I know is that I was slightly scared and that I didn’t like the fog around me.
While walking on this narrow trail suddenly out of the fog and only an arm length away from me the eagle soared by. It was so close, so huge, so impressive. Although not being sure if you can really call it a sound, I still remember the sound of this majestic bird flying past. And as quick as the eagle was there, it was gone again. I’m not sure who else saw it too. I think at least my mom did, but then I really couldn’t tell anymore.
To the day I can feel this deep humble and yet excited feeling this moment gave me. It was the first and last time so far I’ve seen an eagle in the wild so close by. I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again. Not that close.
Over the years I’ve seen eagles soaring the skies, far above. It’s always a good thing to see them and it makes me happy. Every time I see them though, makes me think of this moment in the fog. It was one of this almost unreal moments, that although they only last for a split of a second feel like it took forever. As if it was played in super-slow. And yet there’s no rewind or pause option.
Just a memory, forever engraved in your mind and in your heart…