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Soaring beyond the heat
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I'm finding it hard this week to work up the will to take the granddog out into the sultry still morning for a walk, however piteously she looks with that sad blue eye and that even sadder brown eye.

It's hot, it's humid, even at 7 a.m. I'd rather read and ride an exercise cycle than go on an excursion along the trail in Oxford with the dog. Sorry, Sophie.

She eyes me with disgust while I ride.

And yet when I try to shoo her out the back door, she hesitates and gives me a "how can you do this to me" look. It's as if she's saying if she has to go out, I should go out, too.

She barely makes it off the deck, takes care of business and is back at the door, yelping for re-entry. There's no lingering, looking for chipmunks and squirrels and cats these mornings.

Our long walks are less frequent in summer, but we walked the length of the trail on Monday.

We had it to ourselves. The birds were quiet, even the peacocks that live nearby, as if the heat was already too much for them. The only sounds were the dull thrum of traffic from the interstate and the insect buzz from the swarm of assorted winged critters that engulfed us whenever Sophie wanted to stop.

And then I heard a snort in the undergrowth by the creek behind Oxford College and watched the deer run up the hill. We weren't alone, after all.

The sink behind the college is usually the coolest part of the trail, but today, sweat was already seeping through my T-shirt and beading on my arms. The air was so saturated, it had nowhere to go.

We continued the climb and left the trail below the Oxford water tower. The 14 buzzards that make their home there seemed to be eyeing us and judging whether we had potential as a meal. They apparently had no interest in a parboiled breakfast.

It was even hotter out in the open along Wesley Street as the sun continued on its ascent, but there was some relief to be found on the Oxford quad.

Birds were more active there, and there was one particularly unusual call coming from an oak. A large, brown-feathered bird was there, with white mixed in. It was obviously a raptor, but seemed too big for a hawk. Its call wasn't as shrill as a hawk, either. Was it an eagle?

We stopped and stared until the great bird flew into the sunrise and away from campus.

I checked with Jim Ozier of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources later on Monday and described the bird.
It's indeed possible that the college visitor was an immature bald eagle.

A nesting pair of bald eagles had been seen at Lake Varner, he said, which as the eagle flies, was not that far away. It could have been a bird passing through, too.

The bird sighting made my day and the long, sweaty walk worthwhile. I don't care how hot it gets, it's still cool to see an eagle.

Tharon Giddens is editor of The Covington News. Reach him at (678) 750-5011 or at