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.
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!