Eagle Watch has gone out with a whimper, not a bang. When I arrived for the 9:30 feeding I confirmed a count of 16 eagles in the trees. Over the next half hour to forty-five minutes that grew to 32, but there were very few flybys and even the ravens didn't land on the field among the chicken.
We were treated to a decent exhibition of riding thermals as up to 20 eagles soared around over the northwest corner of the field, but that was it. At 10:30 I left for a coffee.
I returned at 11:30 and still no action had occurred. That put paid to the 11:30 feeding. I went home and returned at 1:30 to see the chicken still in the field and the number of eagles reduced. There were a few people still there out of the half dozen who came today, at least two from metro so I felt sorry for them.
I came back again at about three o'clock. The spectators had quit but most of the chicken was gone and one large adult was finishing off her meal. I counted about 15 in all, so perhaps 20 may have been involved. Most of the eagles were roosting in the northeast corner so I took the remaining chicken and threw it over the slope down in front of them; only a half bucket remained and as I drove up the road two of the eagles had come down already.
There was no siting of Redneck today.
So this is it for the official eagle watch until December. I'll check the field at 9:30 each morning next week and if there are enough eagles around I'll throw out a couple of buckets of chicken. If you're local you might want to drop by but those contemplating coming from further afield would do well to have a plan B in case the eagles don't show up.
This is my final blog until winter comes again. I am sad to end it this year and will miss the comfort of the routine I have established. I will certainly miss meeting the people that come from distant places - I always marvel at how far the word of eagle watch has spread. Mostly I'll miss the regulars with whom I have built a friendship. You have been kind and generous for which I am forever grateful. Thanks also to the farmers without whom we wouldn't have eagle watch at all.
Stay healthy and see you next winter!
The eagle count remains strong as we wind down proceedings for another year. On the 26th we had a count of 45 for the first feeding followed by 32 for the second. In both cases there was a decent aerial display and good action once the eagles came to ground. The driving sleet for the second feeding made viewing unpleasant.
There were no sightings of Redneck on the day.
The numbers continued strong this morning with 55 eagles counted for the first session. Both the aerial display and ground display outshone the previous day. Redneck was seen briefly down the eastern edge of the field before disappearing into the woods about a quarter of the way down. There was no report on his condition.
For the second feeding there was a delay of about 10 minutes before the aerial action began. I counted 18 eagles at the outset but these had increased to 45 before the end of the session. The aerial display was good but it was the ground action which stood out today.
The number of visitors is well down as one would expect. Some are content to view from their car and the few that venture out with cameras are well spaced: more like six yards than six feet.
We are heading into the final weekend and I am sure that many of you will choose to stay home. I know you'll be there in spirit so I'll just say, "Stay well." For those of you coming it's 9:30 and 11:30 both days. It's supposed to be cold overnight but warming considerably through the day and staying warm for Sunday. On this basis I would bet that the early Saturday feeding will be the best.
The depth of the snow caught me off guard this morning as travel was difficult on snow packed and slippery roads. Not surprisingly I was the only one at the site for the 9:30 feeding. Visibility was poor and the only eagle I saw was a juvenile flying to the site as I left to do my barn run. Given the state of the roads it was an hour before I returned and by then all the chicken was gone. Visibility had improved and I spotted about a dozen eagles in the trees but suspect that it took more than that the clean up the food.
I was a few minutes late for the 11:30 feeding having got stuck behind a snow plough. The dozen or so eagles were still in the trees and I had the company of a single photographer. The snow had turned to sleet by this time and though it was mild it was not a very pleasant morning.
The aerial display started very quickly and was a decent show. By the end there were about 40 eagles at the site and they got stuck in on the ground quite quickly. Most of the action was in the air, though there wasn't much taking of chicken on the wing. There were, however, several attempts to carry off chicken with the ensuing chase. The action on the ground was relatively tame.
I am very much aware that the time is ticking down for the eagle watch season. While I would love to have a decent attendance to send the eagles back to their nesting grounds I appreciate that social distancing is an issue. There is a fair amount of space at the site so that I think we can spread ourselves adequately thinly provided that we're not overwhelmed by numbers. However, safety must be everyone's primary concern.
I am pretty much committed now to the two feedings at 9:30 and 11:30 so I'll be there either way.
It was minus 8 when I arrived for the first feeding at 9:30 and much to my disappointment there were no eagles in the trees shivering. I put out a reduced feeding and as I left the field there were two immature eagles circling high overhead. Instead of waiting I decided to do my circuit of the barns.
When I returned about 40 minutes later it was just in time to see the second wave of eagles feeding. I managed to count a total of 40 on the ground, in the air and in the trees. By this time I had missed the aerial display but the ground display seemed about average.
Between feedings Redneck made another appearance at the rear of the field but did not venture further forward, so there is no new intelligence to report.
The second feeding was barely an hour after the finish of the first session so I was not surprised that things were slow to kick off. I counted about 15 eagles in the trees surrounding the field. After about 10 minutes there was some high altitude flying and gradually this brought the numbers up. Shortly after this two or three eagles landed but as has been there habit of late they were there to watch rather than eat, at least at first.
With the growing numbers the aerial activity increased and soon the eagles were feeding in numbers - between 8 and 10 - on the ground. My final count was 30+ eagles for the second session.
It is tempting to cut back to a single feeding but while there weather remains on the chilly side overnight I will persist with 2 feedings at 9:30 and 11:30. I'll review this on Tuesday.
Conditions at the site have deteriorated with the warmer temperatures and overnight rain. It was impossible to drive my car onto the field and accessing the field on foot from the driveway entrance was sloppy to say the least. For the second feeding I used the ditch path with the slanting signboard which was better but still required crossing an ankle deep section of mud. People coming tomorrow will find that the approaches through the other ditch crossings are easier now that the ice is gone.
So unsurprisingly there was no one there for the first feeding at which 5 eagles could be seen in the trees. There was immediate indifference to the food put out so I headed off on my barn visits. I returned about 35 minutes later by which time all the food was gone and there was a single adult eagle sitting in the field. A parked car was just leaving and I did not have to opportunity to speak with the driver so I cannot comment on the quality or quantity of the action.
For the 11:30 I counted 15 eagles at and around the site. Initially there was no action but within 10 minutes the odd flyby was followed by eagles taking to the ground. Numbers built to about 20 - 25 by the end of the show, which was better as a ground display than an aerial display. I did not see Redneck today.
We had two viewers: a gentleman from Timberlee and his sister-in-law from Windsor, Ontario both of whom enjoyed what they saw.
I will stick with two feedings at 9:30 and 11:30 for the weekend.
In many ways it was a day similar to yesterday but without as many as 60 eagles.
The early session had a prompt aerial response which was excellent and the ground action which followed was also very good. Initially there was a single spectator but another joined us before the action ended.
The only sighting of Redneck was between feedings at at the far northeast corner of the field.
The second feeding, like yesterday, got off to a slow start. There were a dozen eagles left in the trees but very little happened for the first half hour. It then began with a series of flybys and taking of chicken on the wing. Soon after the eagles began to gather on the ground while the aerial acrobatics continued.
Hi up in the sky there were several soaring eagles and these brought in additional numbers. By the end of the show we had 30 - 35 eagles.
Attendance at the second showing was up to a dozen or so with one visitor from Edmonton, Alberta.
Tomorrow we are expecting rain, so it is not a good forecast for eagle watching. The viewing area is already fairly churned up so come prepared. I will feed at 9:30 and 11:30.
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!