Wednesday, November 21, 2012

BALD EAGLE SURVEY

I guess everyone is probably getting tired of seeing eagles up here on a daily basis.  I don't want to make this an eagle site at the expense of all else, however, I've only been involved in eagles lately.
I wanted to get a good eagle count on Douglas Lake for the American Eagle Foundation, AEF, as they are the folks who released C 2 four years ago and recently discovered on Douglas Lake by myself.  I spent from 11AM until 4PM today searching the center of the lake for bald eagles.  Starting on the 23rd of this month I will be involved in an elk survey which should provide an interesting story for the blog.  There's lots of things about to unfold that I have not ever been involved in.  All this makes my life very interesting.
The gulls seem to have appeared from nowhere.  They filled the sky and water.  This is the first winter I've really spent on Douglas Lake and I'm learning about the coming   and going's of the birds.

I was running the Gheenoe on the center portion of the lake today.  Today is a day off for me and I can spend quality time on searching out bald eagles.   I found many.  They were perched in trees with the sun at their backs, as usual.  My goal was to collect GPS data for each bird and the photography effort was more of a secondary effort today.  Running the boat while holding the binoculars to my face, photographing birds, monitoring the GPS and documenting locations with pen and paper can get challenging.  I got some good eagle shots but not all are of the quality I like to post.


I wasn't on the water for 15 minutes when I came upon this good looking fellow. As I said in an earlier entry - I believe these young eagles are migrating here from points north.  I simply did not see them all summer.


The day was gorgeous!  Calm water and warmer temperatures made cruising the lake wonderful.  The next eagle came up quickly.  It was an adult.







This eagle was pretty far away.  I photographed him, documented the GPS location and moved on.

















The next sighting was a pair of adults in a tree together.  At least I thought that's what I saw.


Look very carefully in the same tree.  There is an immature eagle standing on a limb perfectly camouflaged   I shot picture after picture of the two adults before accidently discovering his presence.  Look at the first picture of the two eagles.  Look to their right.  He is there.  Look hard and you'll see his yellow feet.  He appears more plainly in the second shot below.  






I was hoping these shots would be acceptable.  These two eagles were a treat to watch but, the secret immature was a crowning Jewell.
The eagles appeared one after the other.  A short float up the lake brought yet another eagle into view.  They were out in force today.


This adult is far away in a tree inland.  I quickly documented his location and noticed he was preparing to fly off.  I waited.

















A bass boat blasted past me to the rear and set up some pretty heavy wakes that were starting to roll into the gheenoe.  Perfect timing.  I couldn't hold the camera steady.  The shots are what they are.




That bass boat is messing up some potentially great eagle shots.  

 Wait a minute.  Where'd this guy come from?  Oh well - from the biggest to the smallest.
You have to remember that I'm only sampling a few miles in the center of the lake.  I think the number of eagles I'm finding is unprecedented.  I'd be curious to know how many are on the lower and the upper sections of water.  Yet another eagle appeared.


The above eagle was photographed directly into the bright sun.  I couldn't even look at him very long due to sun in my eyes.  I jotted down the location and moved on.
A very large eagle was in the top of a tree.  He was huge.  The thought came to mind - golden eagle.  It was only a fleeting thought.  I haven't seen a golden eagle anywhere yet although I've heard they have been sighted.





I'm realizing these shots will be less than I'm capable of.  I'm not taking time to position the boat properly and I'm not worrying about the sun's position.  I want to record the eagle and document him on paper.  I didn't expect to see this many today.



Another adult.  As usual - I had to shoot directly into the sun.  Can't win today.




Just magnificent!

My data indicates a count of 16 bald eagles today.  That seems to be a lot of birds for this short piece of water but, what do I know?
I beached the Gheenoe and took a walk to stretch my legs.  I carry a bottle of salt water to rinse my mouth out with.  Dentist's orders.  I guess it kills germs.  

What a great little boat!  Can't say enough good about it.  The only thing better would be the same boat made of aluminum.
The holiday is here and I'll be into something for sure.  I'll get off this eagle kick I'm on - promise.  Have a good Thanksgiving and pray we can sustain ourselves in the face of the ridiculous leadership we have in Washington.  See ya later.