Friday, October 15, 2010


About a week ago, searching for any excuse not to do the work in front of me, I picked up my camera and drove to Hell Neck Road in the neighboring county.

Yes, Hell Neck Road. Because nothing says procrastination better than a trip to Hell Neck Road.

Actually, the main purpose of this trip to Procrastination involved the public landing at Harcum, but when I saw the sign for Hell Neck, I couldn't resist the urge to dawdle further to investigate.

In spite of its exciting name, however, there was very little to photograph.  Just as a wave of irritation started washing over me, I happened to glance in a recently harvested corn field and noticed an eagle hovering over a dead animal that looked like a deer (but could have been anything, especially since our raccoons and opossums grow to be the size of small ponies, especially the ones who live in my yard and eat 9-Lives cat food all night long).

Intrigued and perplexed, because I've only seen them eat fresh fish, I asked Google about eagles eating dead deer, and this site provided some information:

Raptors (predatory birds), bald eagles are at the top of the food chain and fish in both fresh and salt water. They feed on fish, small animals like ducks, coots, muskrats, turtles, rabbits, and snakes and carrion (dead animals) occasionally. Fish account for 90% of their diet; however, they will prey on whatever is available and easiest to get. It takes them about four minutes to eat one pound of fish. While catching their prey, they rarely enter the water, they snatch the fish from the surface with their talons. They also steal fish from ospreys which are smaller. Historically, ranchers and farmers shot and killed them in large numbers because they were grouped with raptors that killed chickens, lambs, and other domestic livestock.

Speaking of stealing fish from ospreys, below is a recent shot (from my fishing trip) of the Queens Creek eagle sitting in a tree that is also favored by ospreys.  Except now the ospreys have packed their bags and headed south.

The eagles, having no ospreys from which to steal, evidently have taken to flying to Hell Neck Road where they eat dead deer or dead opossums or whatever happens to be lying around in a cornfield.

At least that's what I take away from all this.

So, to recap:

1. Eagles eat primarily fish and have been known to steal fish from ospreys.
2.  Ospreys fly away from here in the cold weather. 
3.  I often dream of flying away from here in the cold weather too. Maybe next year I'll hitch a ride with an osprey, preferably one headed to Bora Bora.  
4.  With no ospreys flying around doing all the fishing, eagles sometimes eat dead animals--large dead animals.
5.  This means my dog Buddy better not lie around too long in the back yard lest they think he was  a beached whale  an afternoon snack.
6. The word "coot" is guaranteed to make me laugh.
7.  After all this, I don't even know for sure that was a dead deer because I can't tell from the picture.  All I know is that eagle was eating something large and dead and it sure as hellneckroad was not a fish.
8. There really was something worth photographing on Hell Neck Road.
9.  Have a fantastic weekend.


Deltaville Jamie said...

The Tidewater area has the coolest road names: Hell Neck Rd, Bob's Hole Rd, Marvin Flippin Lane... The word coot always makes me think of my cousin calling me "Cooter" as a kid. It comes from our days of watching The Dukes of Hazard. I loved me some Duke boys.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I wanna go to Hell Neck Rd! Which, by the way, would also be a good name for a band, I think. Or a blog. Or a bar!

deborah said...

Very interesting facts.
Fact that a picture of an Eagle can transport you from Hell Neck Rd to Bora Bora...but that's due to the fact that you, in fact, need a long vacation. Just the facts, ma'am!

TSannie said...

Good read! Your book is going to be a smashing success!

Kay L. Davies said...

Very interesting about eagles eating carrion.
There has been a lot of interest in eagles in my home province of British Columbia in the past several years because of "eagle cams" being set in trees opposite eagles' nests, so people can watch the live "feed" on their computers.
A friend of ours has been in charge of the eagle cams for most of that time, so we always knew when another one was set up in a different location. Your post just reminded me that I must check with him in the spring to see where the "best nests" are.
-- Kay, Alberta

Trisha said...

You always manage to catch such interesting things! I am happy you went investigating Hell Neck Road - partially because of the pictures and partially because of the wonderful name.

big hair envy said...

We have a Hell Bottom Road in my county. Well, we HAD one. Some prude moved in a few years ago, and petitioned the county to change the name to Bottom Road. She won, but we will always call it Hell Bottom:)

Anonymous said...

My Dad used to get crabs from a strange lady named Sue Johnson, who lived in Hell Neck back in the 50's. Crabs, the shellfish - not the pubic pests...and strange as in somewhat creepy. Hell Neck had a reason for its name.

Growing Wild on Waverly Lane

Anonymous said...


BayBrowder said...

Yesterday, I got to observe five or six beautiful eagles up close, living in sanctuary at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. They are amazing....incredible how large and powerful they are. These birds are in sanctuary because they have been injured and are unable to return to the wild.

Can't remember them now, but since moving to Mathews, I have noticed several road names that are strange and amusing.

Hoping the Hoos and Hokiies are winners today.

Andi said...

I want to live on Hell Neck Road! I am so boring!

Anyway - the game wardens here in our neck of the woods, will take the deer road kill and put it out on the ice in the local reservoir to feed the raptors in the winter. Keeps most of the ground dwelling carnivores away from it, so the birds have dibs. The other creatures get enough in the woods. We are rumored to have three or four bald eagles in our neck of the woods but I have yet to see one. although I am the only person who has been up to Hawk Mtn time and time again and never seen a hawk. so what do I know! Now a red tail and sharp shinned hawk in our back yard, certainly!

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

We also have a Pattie Swamp Road round these parts to go with the Hell Bottom Road that is now Bottom Road. Oh Hell Neck Rd this makes no sense!

foolery said...

Hell is actually a town in California, east of the Joshua Tree National Park on the desert highway to Phoenix. No matter how much you zoom in on Google maps, Hell never looks any bigger.

I want cool road names like you guys have. Who do I complain to?