Cowden's visits to the clifftop nest of Temujin, a fledgling black eagle, have already been the subject of a National Geographic article and a documentary film by Arthur Bowland (the photographer who shares the adventures but not the title page here). Carrying gifts of dead rabbits and frequently attacked by the watchful mother eagle, Cowden took a good deal of punishment and some desperate risks to bring the eagles into camera range. Finally, her diligent good will was rewarded when Temujin, fallen from his nest and blown away in a gale, trusted her to carry him back to safety. Unfortunately, readers will have an even harder time scaling the effulgently adjectival prose than Cowden had getting up Natal's Drakensburg range. (""A recumbent monster with stone ribs curved out in colossal ridges from scaly heights, it has notches on its vertebrae that stand out in clear peaks along the three hundred miles of its gargantuan spine."") No help either are her fondness for interspersing ""literary"" quotes--comparing mating eagles to, say, ""star-crossed lovers""--and her tendency to play surrogate mother to Temujin (""Let him live, O Gods, this baby Temujin. . . and let him grow into a great South African eagle, proud and free""). The impulse soars; the execution is, frankly, a turkey. But we wouldn't mind meeting Temujin and Ms. Cowden in less distracting surroundings.