The switch to a single 9:30 feeding proved very successful today. It was sub-zero overnight but relatively mild and sunny this morning. Only three people showed up to see the eagles but they were treated to quite a show.
The action began as I was driving off the field with a truly excellent and extended aerial display. Numbers were up - I counted about 50 eagles this morning. The ground display that followed was also very good, so I intend to repeat the recipe tomorrow. If the number continues at the higher level I may reconsider the number of feedings, but I think the 9:30 time is convenient as it gives a gap after the local farmers have thrown out their chicken.
Also, I fed four buckets today versus the usual five between two feedings which was the previous practice.
Before I change the routine again I first need to confirm the trend to higher numbers and higher activity levels.
It turned out to be the best day since March 1st with the second feeding boasting over 40 eagles with 35 - 40 at the 8:30.
I was a bit surprised to see so many eagles at the 8:30 feeding - obviously someone set their clocks ahead an hour. It was a good aerial display which started fairly early and led on to a good ground display. We had under 6 people for the early show. It was cold but sunny with some dramatic clouds.
By the second feeding human numbers had grown to a dozen or so - one couple from Gatineau Quebec visiting family in the metro area. The 10:30 started slowly but there were a couple of eagles in flight almost from the time I left the field. This number built and built to about 20 birds in the air and a similar number in the trees. It was also a long display as it was about 25 minutes before the eagles took to the ground in serious numbers. They put on a very good display once down.
The number of juveniles seemed unusually high - further confirmation perhaps that the return to nesting grounds has begun (juveniles have no need of nests).
Despite the encouraging numbers today I am sticking with a single 9:30 feeding on Monday and Tuesday. I will try to give a couple of days notice before any changes are made.
The wind made it feel much colder than the air temperature today. The expectation of larger eagle numbers was partly fulfilled today as there were roughly 30 eagles at each feeding.
Only two brave photographers attended the 8:30 feeding. This almost private showing saw a stuttering start with a decent aerial display and a good ground display. Action wasn't continuous but rather had two distinct periods of activity.
By the time of the second feeding there were a dozen or so people attending - some wisely waiting in their cars until the action began. Again there was a very good aerial display before the eagles took to the ground with limited aggression early on.
We had visitors from Moncton and Burlington Ontario so I am relieved that the eagles put on a decent show.
While eagle numbers were an improvement on recent days they were insufficient to convince me that the majority of migrants are still with us. I now strongly suspect that the return to nesting grounds is well under way. Frankly, the numbers do not justify two feedings, a sentiment supported by the long delays in the eagles engaging during the past week.
There will be two feedings tomorrow at 8:30 and 10:30 as previously committed in the Blog, but as of Monday I am switching to a single feeding at 9:30 am. This should give visitors from Metro sufficient time to get to site comfortably. If this creates problems for anyone, let me know by commenting and I will give the matter more consideration.
Unfortunately it was another poor day of eagle watching. The 8:30 feeding had no immediate impact whatsoever for the about 20 eagles that eventually made it to the trees. I had to leave at 9:00 but when I returned for the 10:30 feeding the food from 8:30 was still there, barely touched although it was reported that some abortive action had occurred.
I trimmed the 10:30 feeding down to two buckets leaving a total of four on the field. Once again there was very little action - two flybys while I was there. I hung around until just after 11:00 and even the ravens weren't interested. When I returned at about 1:00 the action was over, so I can't comment on quantity or quality.
I feel bad for those who traveled from Metro or, in one case, St John NB, for a very poor show by our standards.
While I am committed to two feedings at the weekend (8:30 and 10:30) I am giving serious consideration to dropping down to one feeding next week (likely 9:30), so look for more news on that front tomorrow. It is forecast to be very cold tomorrow with a high of -7 and wind chill of -15. This should be cold enough to boost eagle numbers if in fact the bulk of the eagles are still around and not basking in sunlight at their nesting grounds. If you come, dress warmly and be prepared to wait.
The morning feeding turned out much better than originally anticipated. There was a fairly prompt fly around with one eagle on the ground and watching me closely as I finished throwing out the chicken. Having only spotted a half dozen or so eagles on arrival, ultimately 20 - 25 made an appearance and when they came to ground put on a good show.
The second feeding was almost the opposite. I counted a dozen or so eagles on arrival but there were at least three times that in ravens and crows. There were several false starts, which all began with decent aerial action but fizzled out with only one or two eagles coming to ground but departing again quickly. I had to leave at 11:20 and the main show hadn't begun by then. When I returned two hours later all the chicken was gone but whether into the beaks of ravens and crows or eagles I cannot tell.
We welcomed another visitor from Ontario - just outside Kanata - today. The remainder were good N.S. citizens from metro, Digby, Bridgewater, etc.
Colder weather is still forecast and the possibility of some snow, so I will persist with the 8:30 and 10:30 feedings. But after a very good week last week we have strayed again into iffy territory. If you come be prepared for a wait.
Given the weather and recent feedings this was something of a comeback day.
I thought I had been abandoned at the first feeding but just as I was finishing throwing out the chicken a car pulled up and three people got out. I had spotted a dozen or so eagles in the trees and initially felt this was going to be a repeat of the past two days. However, there was a decent aerial display which started immediately and by the time the eagles took to the ground the numbers were up over 30. A decent ground display followed.
The visitors were a couple from Moncton and the son they were visiting. All seemed well pleased with the display.
It was a similar story for the 10:30 feeding as there were no visitors when I threw out the chicken. I could see from the count of eagles in the trees that we were starting with a higher number than the first feeding. In the end we got 35 - 40 eagles. This was good because the weather had gone from murky to foggy followed by rain, so not ideal conditions. Again things kicked off quickly.
Both the aerial display and the ground action were slightly better than the early feeding, no doubt assisted by the slight increase in numbers. The visitors were from Wolfville and consisted of two special needs children and their carers. All seemed moved by the event reaffirming the power of nature to inspire at many levels.
The forecast for the weekend and beyond is a return to colder weather with some snow. That being the case I will continue with the two feedings at 8:30 and 10:30 until further notice. It will be interesting to see if numbers rise with the colder temperatures. From memory the tail end of last year settled into a pattern of 20 - 30 eagles which I assume to be year round residents. If the numbers don't increase it will be evidence that the migration back to nesting grounds has begun and we will be unlikely to see 50+ eagles again this year.
Sadly this was the worst day of the season barring the day of the big snowstorm. We were down to about 20 eagles in the first session, perhaps up to 30 in the second. Mild weather undoubtedly had something to do with it but it's just possible that the return to nesting grounds has begun early.
We had half a dozen visitors at the 8:30 session which began with a mild aerial display. It seemed that only one or two eagles would engage with the rest staying in the trees. When they came to ground it was a tame show with the ravens accounting for more aggression than the eagles.
The second feeding saw a return to the waiting game as by 11:05 there had only been a couple of flybys. I had to leave and did not return until gone 1:30 by which time everybody had gone: eagles, chickens, ravens and people. Often the best displays come after a long wait, so I hope this was the case, especially for our visitors from Washington D.C. who leave us today.
I will persist with two feedings at 8:30 and 10:30 tomorrow.
I guess the caption for today has to be Small is Beautiful.
Numbers were down today - about 35 for the 8:30 session and perhaps a few less for the 10:30. When I drove past the Upper Canard site just past 8:00 there were only a few eagles so I assume they fed later than usual which took numbers away from our second feeding.
Despite the lower numbers there were two good shows. The recent pattern continued with an early response to the first feeding with most eagles taking to the ground quickly. As I only throw out two buckets for the first feeding there tends to be less small chicks, so less that the eagles can easily take on the fly. The ground display was good if not as spectacular are recent session.
The reduced number of eagles was evident when I arrived for the 10:30 feeding. As a result I threw out two buckets instead of three. This was done partly because of the warmer weather that is approaching which means I don't want to overfeed them.
I had a bad feeling about the 10:30 because unlike the sessions for the past week there was no immediate response. I needn't have worried because the action started within five minutes with an extended aerial display which included high level soaring as well as taking food on the wing. There were also several incidents of "aerial combat" with chicken being taken from other eagles in flight.
The action then went to ground and was extended and aggressive. It was a good showing despite the reduced numbers. The folks from D.C. were back and the two gentlemen from Ontario decided at the last minute not to go home. I understand the addiction!
The forecast is warm and wet but we will persist with 8:30 and 10:30 feedings tomorrow!
It was another snowy day. The sun promised to come out between feedings but then slipped behind cloud cover giving both sessions a diffuse light.
The ravens greeted me for the first feeding, joined by a single eagle flyby before I left the field. As has become the norm, the eagles took to the air almost immediately but the flying display was curtailed as the eagles took tot he ground quickly. It was a very good ground display and I counted about 50 eagles.
The second feeding was very similar with perhaps a slightly larger aerial display and a bit less ground activity. The eagle numbers were down slightly: say, 40 - 50.
We were joined today by a lady from London Ontario and two ladies who flew in last night from Washington D.C. They arrived at the very end of the first feeding but I didn't see them at the 10:30. Hopefully they are settled into their accommodation and I will see them tomorrow. It's the last day for my friends from Huntsville and Bomanville who have enjoyed their week. Safe travelling, guys and i hope to see you again in the future.
It's not broken at the moment so I'm not going to fix it. Same times of 8":30 and 10:30 tomorrow.
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.