It was a long day, especially for those patient enough to witness the end results of the second and third feedings.
The morning started well and eagles came down to feed promptly. I estimated 40 birds and the show they put on was their typical mix of aerial agility and tenacity on the ground. The spectators numbered between 100 and 150 and most people seemed to leave pleased.
The second feeding found the eagles less cooperative. By this time the audience had grown to 400 - 500, the temperature had risen and there was a slight tang in the air from the smoke of the fire on Saxon Street. There were a few relatively minor violations of the restraining line but for whatever reason the eagles showed no interest. After about 45 minutes I made the decision to fetch another bucket of chicken to lay out further away from the crowd in the hope of enticing the eagles down.
No sooner had I left than down they came and by the time I returned to show was in its final stages. I estimate about sixty eagles. Sadly, many of the spectators had given up and moved on but those that remained had a good show.
Because it was gone 11:30 before the 10:30 feeding finished I was going to scrap the third feeding. What decided me the other way was a couple who had driven from Moncton on the day only to miss all but the last of the second feeding. For them I decided to go for a third try.
This time the wait for the eagles to come down was colossal. After 50 minutes I decided to go on my chicken run around the farms picking up supplies. This takes the better part of an hour and when I returned there was still no action and I was just about resigned to picking up my chicken and going home.
Only a dozen or so people remained and they all wanted to wait it out. And so we waited, and with what a reward! It started slowly with one adult eagle on the ground glowering at us and not even within reach of a meal. However, as he or she hopped to the nearest food offering it seemed to trigger what started as a flyby of several eagles and ended with a veritable dogfight in the sky. Eagles were coming in from all directions - at least 70 of them. And this was just the beginning because as they came to the ground there were massive displays of aggression as well as underdog heroics from the ravens. It was easily the best show this year. What a shame that only so few were rewarded, but I am pleased to say that the Moncton couple were there until the end. What could have been a huge disappointment ended as a day well spent.
Tomorrow we try again with feedings at 8:30, 10:30 (fingers croseed) and quite possibly 12:30 (or thereaouts!).
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!