Forgotten Voices of the North Woods:
Revisiting historic literature of the Adirondacks
L. E. Chittenden and his book "Personal Reminiscences 1840 - 1890," published in
Lucius Eugene Chittenden (1824 - 1900) Born in Williston
Vermont, studied and practiced law in that state. He was active in anti-slavery
politics and was Register of the Treasury under Lincoln's first administration.
Among his other writings is "The Capture of Ticonderoga" published in 1872.
Lucius Chittenden is mentioned in Alfred Donaldson's "A History of the
Adirondacks" Vol II (published 1921) when, in his late 50's, he visited the
Adirondacks and made the acquaintance with the guide Mitchell Sabattis. A
condensed version of his association with Sabattis is given in Donaldson while
the full story can be found in chapter 16 of "Personal Reminiscences."
For today we will revisit Chittenden's exciting account of an encounter between
osprey and bald eagles on Long Lake. This is taken from Chapter 24, "Owls,
Falcons and Eagles":
At the time of which I am writing, on a point which extended into the lake from
its western shore under Buck Mountain, there was a grove of white pines. In the
largest of these was the nest of a pair of eagles. They had nested there for
many years. Sabattis, then a man of fifty, could not remember a year when it was
not occupied. By annual additions it had grown to an enormous size and was
visible for miles. These eagles were masters of the lake, and it was not often
visited by the ospreys, even upon a fishing excursion.
One morning, from my camp at the outlet, I noticed a pair of ospreys with two
young but full-grown birds in the trees on the eastern shore. The old birds were
training the young ones in capturing small fish, which I thought were yellow
perch, near the shore. One of the young birds made a circuit farther up the lake
and struck a lake trout. He had some difficulty in rising from the water, but
slowly succeeded. Before he took his course toward the place where the parent
birds were on the watch, a young eagle dashed out from the point and with a
fierce scream started in pursuit. At the same moment the old ospreys started to
defend their young. They were not in time. The eagle had almost reached the
young hawk, when it dropped the fish. The eagle did not seize it before it
struck the water, and in four or five similar cases I never saw the fish caught
in its descent. While the eagle was struggling to rise after it had seized the
fish, and before he was twenty feet from the water, one of the ospreys made a
swoop and struck his claws into the eagle with such force that both went into
the lake, where they separated. As the eagle rose a second time it was struck by
the second osprey and again forced into the lake. I think he was struck in this
manner four times when the old eagle came to his rescue and the ospreys
retired., screaming defiance, and one of them carrying the fish which had been
the cause of the contest. But the eagle was disabled and could not rise. One of
the guides went for him in a boat, but before he could reach him he was drowned.
His back was found to have been so torn by the talons of the fish-hawks that the
wounds would have been mortal if he had fallen on the shore.
We're pleased to bring you
from an Adirondack Blogger,
Dave Waite (firstname.lastname@example.org).
is an amateur nature and fine arts photographer who was trained in black & white
photography in the early 1970's, worked professionally a bit and then set aside
all artistic pursuits until about 2003. Ne now enjoys creative aspects of
photograph and writing to share with others. Please visit Dave at:
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