Leap year day turned out to be pretty special. The 8:30 feeding saw eagles circling around me before I could make my exit from the field - always a special feeling. The aerial display didn't last long as the eagles - about 40 of them- came to ground quickly. It was a fairly decent ground display which lasted about 15 - 20 minutes. The weather was sunlight diffused through thin clouds. There being little to no wind the air felt warm.
By the 10:30 feeding the sunlight had broken through the clouds. Once again action kicked off almost immediately with a fairly modest aerial session before the birds came to ground. Their numbers had swelled to about 60. There followed a ground display which was very special. It was so busy that one didn't know where to look, though it didn't really matter because there was so much going on it seemed like you couldn't avoid seeing action.
We had 30 or so spectators, mostly local apart from a contingent from the metro area and the two Ontario visitors still enjoying the Valley.
The snow made a good backdrop today and with more in the forecast I am looking forward to two more good showings at 8:30 and 10:30 tomorrow before the weather turns warmer next week.
With apologies to Charles Dickens it was a tale of two feedings today.
Conditions underfoot were treacherous for the 8:30 feeding with the accumulation of ice pellets and freezing rain turning unworn surfaces to sheer ice. The lighting wasn't bad but there was a strong southwesterly wind with temperatures hovering between 0 and minus 2. Action started early though eagle numbers were down - about 35 by my count. I had seen a similar number at the Upper Canard feeding site. The action was relatively tame with a decent aerial show and limited ground action.
Between feedings the snow moved in creating almost white-out conditions for a while. Visibility had improved by the 10:30 feeding time but the air was certainly not clear. The eagles seemed to struggle to get accurate depth perception with many an attempt to take chicken on the wing aborted at the last minute when visibility blurred the white ground from the white, snow-filled air. The main beneficiaries were the ravens who came to ground right away and for much of the session enjoyed an unmolested feast. Eventually the eagles did come to ground but while I was there (and admittedly I left early) there was little aggression apart from shooing off the crows and ravens.
Conditions made an estimate of numbers impossible, but I feel that we retained the 35 eagles from the earlier session.
One other point to note was the blowing over of several perching trees in the section of woodland across the Middle Dyke Road. I did manage to get some salt down onto the main slope into the site and at the access with the lopsided sign.
Feeding times for Saturday and Sunday will be the usual 8:30 and 10:30.
The wind was as bitter today as a jilted lover which turned a relatively mild temperature into a deeply sub-zero feel. The oft promised snow once again failed to materialize leaving us with ice pellets and freezing rain. There is snow in the forecast for the next three days and with the nights being cold and the days creeping just above zero the snow, if it comes, should stay a while.
The weather not withstanding it was another good day of eagle watching. Both feedings boasted about 60 eagles give or take. For the 8:30 feeding the aerial display began before I got into my car to leave the field as three eagles circled around me, one swooping to take a decent sized chicken on the fly. Many followed as I drove away. There being only two buckets the aerial display was stronger than the ground display and the chicken was hoovered up in about 15 minutes.
The 10:30 feeding also began with a strong aerial display but the extra bucket of chicken allowed for more ground action and a longer overall display.
A shout out again to the father and son team who drove down from Ontario. I gave Huntsville a nod yesterday, today a nod goes to the father's home of Bomanville.
I can confirm 8:30 and 10:30 feedings for Friday and over the weekend.
After a shaky start it was another successful day of eagle watching.
The 8:30 feeding elicited 2 flybys and no other action. Thinking that all of the chicken fed was large I returned to base to pick up some small chicken that could be taken on the wing. I came back with barely a quarter bucket, but it did the trick. Once two eagles flew down to take some on the wing the trees emptied and what followed was one of the most spectacular aerial displays this year. It took a little while for the eagles to come to ground but a good display followed. I counted over 70 eagles.
The late start to the 8:30 feeding made me apprehensive about the 10:30 feeding which was nonetheless on time. This time there was a better mix of medium and small chickens with just a few big ones. The aerial started almost immediately and was very good. Again, I counted about 70 eagles - one of the spectators counted over eighty but admitted that there were probably ravens included in that count.
After another good aerial display the ground action seemed rather tame until the very end when things hotted up considerably. The main focus was a large but immature eagle surrounded by 5 adults and several ravens. Time and again the juvenile fought off the older attackers and on two occasions swatted a raven away with its wing.
All the while the juvenile was gulping down bites of chicken and when that was reduced to transportable size made a beeline for the trees. The adults gave chase, one theatrically swooping nearly upside down to tear the chicken morsel from the talons of the juvenile. Perhaps it was a bit of a shame for the juvenile, but not before a decent feast and an heroic effort.
We are on again tomorrow and Thursday for 8:30 and 10:30.
We continue to have good luck with the new feeding strategy.
It was overcast with some distant fog for the 8:30 feeding. A good flyby started immediately on my leaving the field and the eagles - about 40 of them - hurried to pick up the small chickens thrown out. They were soon down on the ground to tackle the bigger stuff. Overall this was a good showing.
By 10:30 were were bathed in sunlight and warmer temperatures. It was somewhat against expectation that the aerial display started almost immediately and built quickly. We had about 50 eagles at the site for this feeding. The display on the ground was quite spectacular with many spats and contests over the food. This was an excellent show which lasted about half an hour.
Once again we entertained a visitor from Ontario. Glad you were able to include us in your itinerary!
Given the success of the past two days I am committing to two feedings at 8:30 and 10:30 for Tuesday and Wednesday. These will be warm days so there is no guarantee of activity but you won't freeze your toes off waiting!
Snow is in the forecast for Thursday so we will extend the current two feedings to then.
Finally, the plan is to keep the feedings going until the final weekend of March 28th and 29th. I will then use the following five days to wean off the eagles to a single feeding a day. The final day under this strategy will be Friday April 3rd..
I missed yesterday's posting. The results yesterday were in keeping with the rest of the week. A reasonable early feeding followed by a lengthy delay for the second. Numbers were down on what has become our average.
Today was different. Cold temperatures for the second day running no doubt helped. Action was almost immediate for the first feeding as 50- 60 eagles were at the site. A good aerial display kicked things off followed by a very good session of ground action. The eagles were hungry and the frenzy only lasted about 15 minutes before the food was gone.
I awaited the second feeding with interest as a good second show would be against the trend of the week and be a positive influence on the future feeding pattern. And so it was! We had an excellent second showing with about 70 eagles in attendance. Again a good aerial display opened proceedings with an excellent ground show following. Also, the action lasted closer to half an hour.
So for Saturday and Sunday my plan is to cut back the early feeding from 3 buckets to 2 and follow up with 3 buckets for the second feeding. Feeding times will be the usual 8:30 and 10:30. We are expecting warmer temperatures so the lighter feeding may keep appetites keen. If this works I will keep the pattern going next week. If not I may well switch to a single feeding of 4 buckets at about 9:30. I will try to give 48 hours notice of this before putting it into effect.
There are news items to report. We had a visitor from Saskatchewan today, staying with his son in Metro. Welcome to him!
For those who took part in our survey this year, many thanks. The data collected is proving very interesting. The winner of the prize draw is Tim Whynott of Annapolis County. Congratulations, Tim!
Finally, many thanks to all those who have thus far contributed in the donations box. Special thanks to Melanie and Mat for their message.
It was another disappointing day. The 8:30 feeding had a fairly prompt start with only a 5 minute wait, but the numbers were low at 30 - 35 eagles. There was not a great deal of aerial action but some good activity on the ground.
The recent pattern of long delays for the second feeding continued. After half an hour I left on a chicken run, returning half an hour later to find that the eagles still had not come down. It was about 2:00 pm by the time I got back and by that time the show was over. There were still a few eagles around and I had counted about 20 before I left on my errands. I can't comment on the quality of the show.
We had several people in from Bridgewater and two from Moncton as well as the returning folks from Quebec City.
I will go with the regular 8:30 and 10:30 feedings through to Saturday as the forecast is for colder temperatures. It being the weekend I will probably do the same for Sunday but I am already thinking of a single feeding for next week and contemplating what time to choose. At the moment 9:30 is the front runner. Feel free to comment on these plans as I will take your views into account.
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!