Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Bald Eagle story had some scared to death

After reading a story of mine in the newspaper, I am left thinking, "Gee, I could have done better." Almost always. My editor and I put a lot of time in making sure the story was balanced, and we did that well I think. But it came at an expense Monday, and now that the craziness is over with I think it is a funny story to share with everyone—I’m an open book kind of guy and I’ll shine light on some of my "closed meetings."

At the bottom of Monday’s paper there was the "Coming up" headline that said something like "Bald Eagles Nest Stops Road Project." I didn’t even see the darn thing and a concerned county employee pointed it out to me in a phone message Monday afternoon. I looked and gasped! WHAT? Who the heck wrote that? The Eagles nest is not stopping anything, and the headline was just incorrect. VDOT folks read it, county folks were alerted to it, and people starting flipping out—and rightly so! So, here I am, just a writer and reporter, trying to calm everyone down. I didn’t write the darn thing. Roads are a real sensitive subject in any locality, especially a road that residents for 17 years have waited to be paved. I am talking about Towles Mill Road.

Anyway, here’s the inside scoop of how the error occurred: When I originally told my editor about the story, I was under the impression that it was very possible the project would not be able to begin until the eagles were out of the nest—as long as half a year. So, my editor wrote in the “story list” a brief summary of what I said: Eagles Nest Stops Road Project. That was early last week. As the story progressed and I gathered the facts, the story became more about the state taking extra precautions, by law, to protect these beautiful birds, and that it is unlikely the project would be delayed.  The story list never got changed. A different editor who wrote the Monday night header just used what was in the story list summary. And that is how the error happened. Sorry VDOT. Sorry County staff. Sorry supervisors. Sorry readers.

But, I hope you found some enjoyment in the story. I was fascinated by these birds. Since the story, I’ve returned twice to have a glance at these two birds, and it’s just amazing to watch. I can see why these birds are still protected. They have a very unique cry, which I heard several times echoing in the wind. Their size is surprisingly big, and they fly very fast. Residents of the road are lucky to have that little area near their homes. I’d jog to it every day just to watch the eagles.

I plan to bring a few of my closest friends to the scene so that they can also see a Bald Eagle in flight. I hope these eagles are able to make a few babies.

Now, I am writing about a real cute dog who helps alarm his owner when she is getting low blood sugar. These dogs are called service dogs, and a lot of people are clueless on their importance. So, I guess I will do my best to help educate some folks on this subject.

I much prefer to write about animals than supervisors… OK, not really, but these last two stories have been fun. 

There’s no “animal” beat here, so I guess I’m stuck with land-use decisions, rezonings, code of ethics, quality of life and transportation projects—and of course the feature stories that make people feel fuzzy inside.





  • lgross

    Dan– when I first saw mention of the “Dyson
    Animal”.. I thought maybe that was your funny
    way of talking about one of the BOS…

    HA HA HA….

    We stayed at friends down on Nomini Creek this
    past weekend – and right next door to them –
    and a problem for the guy who owns that lot and
    wants to build on it – is an active eagles nest that
    our host had a large magnification scope pointed

    But while we were eating lunch -the Eagle
    swooped down from his nest into the backyard –
    dropped down the hill to the water and grabbed a
    fish and flew back to the next.

    So.. being the obnoxious type that I can be – I
    asked him how he felt about the guy who wanted
    to build a house like his just below where the
    eagle nest was?

    In other words, was he in favor of it?

    tough question – huh?

  • dantelvock

    It’s a good journalistic question to ask.

    Take a trip to Towles and go see those Eagles. Enjoy.

  • lgross

    got the lat/long coords?