We spot the familiar reddish-brown-and-black plumage of a mature Cooper’s Hawk as it circles in the cloudless infinity of a blue summer sky, high, high above the milfoil-choked lake–a once-popular spot for kayakers and canoeists–that we are using to break in our new red canoe. We pause to watch as the raptor sight its prey, a fat carp that swims oblivious to any scrutiny just below the level of waters that shimmer with thousands of diamonds reflected by a late August sun.
Relying on instinct, experience, extraordinary vision, and stealth, and driven by hunger pangs or perhaps the maternal need to feed a clutch of young nesting nearby, the aerial hunter does its signature dive bomb, knifing the air in its descent at a trajectory that is both dizzying and dazzling. All conversation on our part has dropped to a whisper level; we are afraid to shatter the moment as we wait for the inevitability that is about the transpire.
The predator’s rip entry in the water does not give the hapless fish time to react. It splashes around in panic, but its is a short dance of desperation, and in a few heartbeats and before our awestruck eyes, it goes from being a lively inhabitant of its watery denizen to lunch as sharp talons and razor beak find soft flesh to rend.
The exultant hunter makes ready to take flight with its meal, a flash of white and silver in its grasp. Moments later, the waters are calm once more, as if nothing had just happened, and conversation resumes at normal levels.
- Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots (dailypost.wordpress.com)