Thursday, December 24, 2009

Eagle Watch

December 19, 2009
Hudson River

This Saturday morning was the first of this winter's Eagle Watches conducted by Moreau Lake State Park.

I'll tell you right off, that despite 4 pairs of eyes watching, we didn't see any.

But as they taught us during Turtle Monitor training at the Lake George Association, it's just as important to record what you DON'T see, at least for research purposes.
It's a little early in the season to see them.

Two days ago, when I was scouting out this part of the river, the park naturalist, Gary, spotted an eagle right down on the beach at the Moreau Lake. (I of course, was on the wrong side of the mountain at the time!) It had apparently been attracted by a dead Canada goose. So we know they are in the area.

We drove over to the river and started a series of timed observations, beginning at the Lower Boat Launch.

Just Thursday, the water was wide open.

After two nights of temperatures near zero, the same stretch of river was now iced-over from shore to shore. (see previous blog to compare). This morning was cloudy and very cold, and the breeze didn't help. It always seemed to be coming from the direction we needed to look toward. I scanned the treeline with binoculars, as a cold tear rolled down my cheek.

Gary, completely at home in the outdoors, led the way as we stopped at several spots along the river over the next two hours. He didn't seem phased by the cold or the wind.

I was OK, having found the right combination of thin but warm long underwear, wool and warm boots to keep me cozy. Watching for eagles is not in any way aerobic, and so you don't build up any heat.

After two hours, we were ready to head back to the park office with its fireplace.
Better luck next time.

Ben, the SCA intern, was bundled up tight - but he was still cold. (Which is to be expected when you have recently moved from a more southern climate.)

Dave, the Environmental Educator, who grew up in "Lake-Effect Snow" country west of here, somehow managed without gloves.

Three of us had scarves wrapped around our faces, in a vague effort to keep our noses warm.

We looked more like bank robbers than naturalists.

I prepared to take a photo of Dave against the beautiful lower river valley,

and as he turned away from the wind, I said "Smile !"

"I am smiling," says he.

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