A first for me – a photo book. I spent a lot of time working on this over the last couple of months. Had to keep it a secret as I couldn’t risk the honored first recipient of it, my mom, finding out about it. It is a hardbound, 24 page book of all my ‘top shots’ from the past year – wildlife, landscapes and more – with a very special dedication. I will certainly sell copies to anyone that might be interested but they are a bit pricey – $75 plus shipping. If you’re interested, let me know.
I am pleased to announce the availability of my 2017 calendars with some of the amazing animals, raptors, and landscapes I have captured with my camera over the past year. Whether you are struck by the sight of a majestic Bald Eagle, awed by sunrises and sunsets or amazed by the animals that we share the planet with, there is a wide variety of subjects to choose from. Get more details here.
It is with a heavy heart that I learned late yesterday of the passing of a local eaglet. The female Bald Eagle was the offspring of a pair of the majestic birds that I had closely watched and photographed for the past six months.
I first discovered the parents at the end of January as they worked on a nest near the intersection of a highway and relatively major street. Despite the high profile location, they went relatively unnoticed and I routinely visited them in the following months as they courted and worked on their new home.
The pair provided many extraordinary photo opportunities and I became quite familiar with them, and they with me I like to believe. We spent many hours in each other’s presence, me thoroughly enjoying their presence, they not minding mine.
The latter half of March it was apparent the female had laid at least one egg as she spent her time sitting on the nest, rarely leaving. That put an end to me visiting them other than to watch from afar as I wanted to be sure to give them their space and not endanger their eggs.
By May the little one was visible and she grew quickly over the next couple of months. She was expected to fledge around the first part of July and as the time got closer, so did the public attention.
The Raptor Education Foundation (REF) put out a very public call on all local news media for people to start watching the eaglet. The very real concern was that her first flight could take her onto the highway.
She was slow to take that first flight and finally did this past Monday. Thankfully she went into a nearby field and seemed to be okay.
However, her parents ignored her and even after being moved closer to the nest by the raptor group Tuesday, she was alone. Yesterday, Wednesday, came the news that the eaglet was found to be very ill and soon passed away. The statement from REF is pasted below.
I can’t help but have a heavy heart today.
Many early mornings were spent sitting in the winter cold watching them for hours. I have shot hundreds of pictures of them and felt like I had gotten to know them, and they me as well.
My kids oftentimes went with me and it was great to share the experience. My daughter had even named the new arrival “Heritage” – a fitting name for such a majestic bird. She and her parents have given me and my family so much joy.
The chances of a bald eagle surviving its first year of life are less than 50% so in some ways this isn’t surprising; that however is little consolation.
I hope they try again this coming winter and establish a new heritage of eaglets at the nest.
Writer’s note: As the statement from REF indicates, a necropsy will be performed to try to determine the cause of death. I can’t help but wonder if the tremendous increase in traffic in the area created by the group that put out the public call didn’t cause undue stress on the eagle family and contribute in some way.
At times there were more than a dozen cars lining the street and the news media made many appearances. It seems to me there would have been other ways to get volunteers without potentially putting the birds at risk.
While the location of the nest was hardly a secret given its vicinity to major roads, few members of the public knew of its existence. The time an eaglet fledges is critical and this layman can’t help but wonder if the increased attention didn’t contribute in some way.
On the net:
“They say” you should have a UV / haze filter on your lenses to protect them from damage as much as for any other reason. I have always used them but at times wondered if it was worth it. Now I know.
Getting out of my truck one day I dropped my camera bag. Since my camera and bigger lens were around my neck I didn’t think too much about it. Last week I swapped to the lens in the picture below which was in my bag when I dropped it.
When I got home and downloaded the images I noticed strange ‘ghost’ lines on the images. Inspecting the lens I found the filter cracked severely.
Made a believer in protective filters out of me!
If you use DSLRs, be sure you have a UV / haze filter on there. A $30.00 filter is far more tolerable to replace than a $200.00 lens.
Some nesting bald eagles may force at least one summer road project to be delayed.
According to the Longmont Times-Call, a pair is nesting near where a bridge on Boulder’s East County Line Road / Weld County Road 1 was washed out during last September’s big flood event.
Boulder County Transportation director George Gerstle told the Times-Call that it could be late summer before the project gets underway depending on when the fledgling birds leave the nest.
When that happens, construction can finally begin on replacing the bridge over the St. Vrain River that was washed out in last September’s flood, Gerstle said.
He said Boulder County is being careful to comply with guidelines the U.S. Endangered Species Act sets for such projects in order to ensure that the Federal Highway Administration will reimburse Boulder County for most or all of the estimated $4 million to $5 million total it’s expected to cost to design and build the new bridge.
I believe there has been a rather noticeable increase in bald eagles this winter along the Colorado Front Range. It seems like with little effort one can find them, even in areas quite populated. Indeed, one of my favorite places has been along the South Platte River in the north Denver area suburbs.
It will be interesting to see if more stories like this are repeated in the coming month or so as eagles mate.
In 2007 the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list after staging an extraordinary comeback. It is however protected by the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
In Colorado, the state’s Division of Wildlife has established guidelines establishing buffer zones around the bird’s activities. Those state:
No surface occupancy (beyond that which historically occurred in the area; see ‘Definitions’ below) within ¼ mile radius of active nests (see ‘Definitions’ below). Seasonal restriction to human encroachment (see ‘Definitions’ below) within ½ mile radius of active nests from October 15 through July 31. This closure is more extensive than the National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines (USFWS 2007) due to the generally open habitat used by Colorado’s nesting bald eagles.
Winter Night Roost:
No human encroachment from November 15 through March 15 within ¼ mile radius of an active winter night roost (see ‘Definitions’ below) if there is no direct line of sight between the roost and the encroachment activities. No human encroachment from November 15 through March 15 within ½ mile radius of an active winter night roost if there is a direct line of sight between the roost and the encroachment activities. If periodic visits (such as oil well maintenance work) are required within the buffer zone after development, activity should be restricted to the period between 1000 and 1400 hours from November 15 to March 15.
Diurnal hunting perches (see ‘Definitions’ below) associated with important foraging areas should also be protected from human encroachment. Preferred perches may be at varying distances from human encroachment and buffer areas will vary. Consult the Colorado Division of Wildlife for recommendations for specific hunting perches.