January 31, 2020
The sun was a welcome addition to the day after the weather being overcast most of the week. It was cold again but without the wind and with the sun it felt warmer than yesterday.
The 8:30 feeding hosted about 60 eagles and upwards of about 20 photographers. Action was prompt and after a fairly polite beginning the show on the ground was good.
When I arrived for the second feeding just before 10:30 I thought I had slept through the rest of Friday and arrived on Saturday. There were close to 100 spectators if not more - visitors from Quebec, Metro, Truro, the South Shore and the Bridgewater campus of NSCC. I was a bit apprehensive about the effect on the eagles but nonetheless I threw several chickens quite close to the cameras and hoped for the best.
And the eagles didn't disappoint despite being slower than normal to respond. I counted over 70 and a fellow observer with the advantage of binoculars put the count over 80. It began with a spectacular aerial display as large numbers of birds dodged each other before swooping down for some chicken. After 10 or so minutes the action on the ground began in earnest. The whole show went on for more than half an hour. One of the best displays this season.
The weather forecast should see us clear the morning feedings without adverse weather. The storm now appears to strike late on Saturday dropping about 10 cm with a further 3 cm possible for Sunday. It will be milder than most of the week and both days should afford excellent photo opportunities.
We have cancelled the Shuttle Service from Canning on Sunday as a precaution but all other activities, including feeding the eagles, are expected to go ahead as planned.
As always, please take care when driving and allow extra time to get to the site.
Scheduled feedings for Saturday and Sunday are 8:30 am, 10:30 am and 12:30 pm subject to weather and uptake of the day's earlier feedings.
January 30th, 2020
Today was very cold with a bitter wind. We had about 60 eagles for the 8:30 feeding and possibly as many as 65 for the 10:30. By the second feeding their were about 20 photographers or viewers.
As has been the case of late there was considerably more activity at the second feeding. Visitors today included a family from the South Shore and a couple from the St John Valley in New Brunswick. Our 4 Quebec visitors returned for their second of three days.
There has been no further word on the possible sighting of a golden eagle and on the balance of probabilities I remain a bit doubtful.
:30 and 10:30.
We will go for two feedings again tomorrow at 8:30 and 10:30.
January 29th, 2020
The colder weather boosted numbers today with 60+ eagles at both feedings. There was good action both times and which began within moments of me leaving the field.
We had a good crowd - over a dozen - from PEI, New Brunswick and Quebec along with some regulars from metro and the local vicinity. Welcome to all, but especially to those from further afield.
A golden eagle was reported at the site, though photographic evidence is yet to confirm this identification which took place at a distance. While I think it would be a first here it is by no means impossible as at least one has become a winter visitor to the Tantramar Marshes. I have been promised a copy of the photo if a clear one was taken.
In addition several red tailed hawks were spotted by one photographer on the way to the site.
I did some scouting around today after the feedings. There were a few beside the pond at the bottom of the Saxon Street hill down from Blueberry Acres, some hanging around the fields opposite the church on Middle Dyke Road and several in the woods along Fred Thomas Road. I looked for some in Pereau where I have had reports of regular sightings, but I couldn't see any today.
We will have two feedings again tomorrow at 8:30 and 10:30.
January 28, 2020
The weather finally turned colder again and is set to stay so for a while. Now if we could have a little more snow before the weekend!
The morning feeding brought an immediate response from the eagles - about 30 of them - but it was a fairly polite affair. By the 10:30 feeding numbers were up to about 45 and there was much more action even though it took longer to get started.
We said farewell to a couple of our friends from Quebec today but I believe that more are on their way. Save travelling!
I was somewhat overwhelmed with the generosity received today - so deep felt thanks to Juanita, Jacques and Yves.
Finally I got some chickens so we'll do two feedings tomorrow at 8:30 and 10:30.
January 26th, 2020
Well it was a damp and disappointing end to the first weekend of Eagle Watch proper. I'm sure the weather forecast deterred many from setting out from metro to join us and despite a dry first feeding at 8:30 the rain had started by the 10:30 session.
Numbers were well down on site with only about 75 for the 8:30 feeding. There were about 35 eagles and they came down to the field within about 10 minutes. It is always spectacular to see them, but there wasn't the level of sparring on the ground to really excite photographers. Nonetheless I think those that attended enjoyed the show.
Those who have been to site will know that it begins with a flat area before sloping away to the right. For some reason at the 10:30 feeding there were 3 or 4 pieces of chicken not touched on the flat upper level until most people left the site. The slope, however, was busy as 40+ eagles put on a better show than the 8:30 feeding. Also, the eagles took longer to come down - 15 to 20 minutes - and for a while I was concerned that they would try to out wait us. We had perhaps 150 spectators who all seemed pleased by the end result.
At the hall numbers were also down. We served about 215 breakfasts bring the total for the first weekend to about 650. That is a good number for us but when you consider that last year we did 600 on the first day it emphasizes the tremendous turnout in 2019.
The shuttle service was again a losing proposition but we have decided to stick with it next weekend. Perhaps we have to break it in before it catches on.
Speaking of next weekend I'd like to point out the other attractions upstairs at the Hall. We have two award winning photographers in residence with Sandi Little and David Elliott, Ducks Unlimited, Blomidon Naturalists Society, spectacular carved hiking sticks from Herman De Coste, bird exhibits, crafts for the kids (making bird feeders) and Tumbleweed Naturalist doing a demonstration of axe carving by the campfire out back. Do join us if you are able!
January 25, 2020
The first day of the Eagle Watch weekends went off fairly smoothly. I know they had a brisk day at the Hall and it is reported that we sold 439 breakfasts and whenever I popped in the place seemed to be humming and full of good humour.
We went with three eagle feedings today at 8:30, 10:30 and 12:30. I am pleased to say that food was taken up fairly promptly at each feeding so there was no repeat of last year's disappointment when the eagles decided to out-wait the spectators. By my count we started off with 25 - 30 eagles and about 175 people. The 10:30 feeding had at least 40 eagles and by my very crude estimate 400 to 500 people. The climax was the 12:30 feeding by which time there were 50 eagles and it was by far the most active session. Again, I think about 175 people were present.
Thanks to all who came and special thanks to all those who contributed to our donation box. It is much appreciated.
The Shuttle Service was pretty much a learning curve with only 41 tickets sold. Those that used it seemed to appreciate it. We had problems with directional signage which didn't turn up and for some reason Google seemed to direct some people to the old disused Canning Fire Hall instead of the new one. It is felt that the shuttle journey was too long to be responsive to demand between the various stopping points. I think we will persevere next year but we will rethink some issues in the meantime.
One of the pleasures of Eagle Watch is meeting and greeting people from far away. Today we have visitors reported from Japan and Brazil. My own special thanks are for a couple from Colorado for the kind things they had to say about this blog. I understand you will be in the area for a while and hope that we can meet at some point.
Tomorrow the 8:30 and 10:30 feedings are confirmed but I will wait on the weather as well as the eagles' appetite before confirming the 12:30.
January 23, 2020
January 22, 2020
It turned out to be a lovely day weather wise: very cold at first but the lack of wind and the appearance of the sun warming the spirits.
About 50 birds showed for the first feeding which went over fairly well. We had a reporter from CBC in attendance and he tried to leave a mini camera on a tripod in the feeding area. To be honest, it looked like a stick man and the eagles were having nothing of it. To his credit, the reporter withdrew the camera and within a few minutes feeding commenced.
By the second feeding we were in full sunshine and it was really pleasant. We were visited by members of the Newcomers Club in New Minas and I can divulge that upon interrogation there is a liberal view of "new" at the club!
The CBC man was still there and this time tried another tack at getting a close up. The tripod was collapsed to about a foot in height and partially obscured by a snow bank. A chicken was then thrown directly in the camera's view and we crossed our fingers. A half an hour later, every piece of chicken had been consumed except the piece in the camera shot. The eagles are canny birds!
Finally an observation on snow ploughs. Regulars will have noticed that a snow plough habitually tries to make it down Middle Dyke Road between 10:30 and 11:00 am. Each day he struggles to get by the two rows of parked cars. I took the trouble to point out that coming down before 8:00 or after 1:00 would solve his problems. I was roughly rebuked with "It won't get done, then!" One definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting to get a different result.
8:30 and 10:30 tomorrow. Friday unsure - be sure to watch postings.
January 21, 2020
It has been a day of adventures. It started with an okay 8:30 feeding which saw a reasonable show from about 40 eagles. With a relatively small crowd they were coaxed quite close to the cameras.
For the second feeding I was being filmed and interviewed by Jeremy who is offering tour packages which include a stop at the eagles. We had some fun with the photographers deciding where to throw the chickens.
I was afraid that the second presence on the field might spook the eagles but after 5 or 10 minutes they came down in force with 70+ eagles contributing to the show.
Also at the site was Herman DeCoste, a wood carver who will be offering hiking sticks capped by eagles, owls or a cardinal upstairs at the hall during the two eagle watch weekends. Herman has donated one as a draw prize for survey questionnaires we are running this year.
The adventure - or should I say misadventure? - climaxed when I got a phone call from a Sackville lady who told me she had lost her glasses either at the site or at eagle perches next to the white church on the way in to Port Williams. In fading light I dashed off in search of specs and returned empty handed to a message. The glasses had been found... in Hantsport! All's well that ends well.
Tomorrow two feedings at 8:30 (possible CBC presence) and at 10:30 (group of 20 from the newcomers club in attendance).
January 20, 2020
Normal service restored!
It was a good day for eagle watching: good light in an overcast sky and lots of fresh fluffy snow. About 60 eagles showed up for the first feeding with over 80 making it to the 10:30. Photographers seemed happy.
We had some non-photographer visitors to the site, in particular a couple from Ontario who are visiting relatives in Sackville. Welcome to them!
Two more barns were cleared out today but also three or four barns should be receiving new chicks this week. I am running lower on stocks that I would like but have yet to pick up anything from the barns being cleared which usually produces a reasonable haul, so fingers crossed.
There will be two feedings tomorrow at 8:30 and 10:30 and again on Wednesday as I have some groups coming in. Thursday and Friday feedings to be advised.
Malcolm lives in Sheffield Mills and is our resident eagle feeder. He feeds the eagles daily and has a unique relationship with these large birds. These are his adventures!