Saturday, March 28, 2015

I'm back - and so are Bald Eagles

After a nearly year long hiatus from posting on this blog (and instead focusing on my instagram account) I'm back and look forward to bringing weekly (and hopefully oftentimes daily) posts to this blog.  With the creation of the Long Island Wildlife facebook page (2,500 followers and growing) I realized that there are a lot of people from Long Island (and elsewhere) that are truly interesting in seeing what our Island has to offer.

So I'll start this off with a quick post about something that has generated a lot of buzz in the nature photography and birding community starting a back in winter (wait, is it still winter??).  Bald Eagles have for decades been a rare sighting on Long Island.  From time to time Birders or photographers would make a note of observing one flying high above - often times a subadult (which lacks the famous "bald" head).  I myself had seen sub-adults twice, once above Mill Pond in Water Mill and again in Flanders with a sub-adult perched on a high-tension tower eating a freshly caught fish.  But aside from these sporadic sightings, if one wanted to see Bald Eagles in the NY Metro area, you would head up to the Hudson near Croton and observe the dozens or more of Baldies that congregate there in the winter to feed on fish and carrion that was always plentiful.

This winter - Bald Eagles started being seen with relative frequency all across the Island.  Nassau, Central Suffolk and the Twin Forks seemed to have their fair share and after awhile it was obvious that there were many regular's across the island.  One of the more "popular" (read: most frequently observed) was a 4th year bird that had one silver band on its leg that spent time between Artist's Lake in Middle Island and Patchogue Lake in Patchogue Village.  While my wife and I tried often to find this bird - we never did, always "just" missing it.

Another mainstay was an adult (and often times a second along with some subadults) in Downtown Riverhead, right behind the aquarium (of all places).  After a few attempts at this bird, we finally got the timing right and I got a few wonderful photos of the first adult I'd ever seen on the island.  Later that day I saw a few more sub-adults further up the Peconic River.  Based on reports I saw on the facebook page and the NYS Bird listserv, I estimate that on the best days there were upwards of 30 Eagles from Montauk to Manhattan, with a daily average probably in the 15-20 range.

This past weekend, after getting a tip on a potential nest site, my wife and I found a pair of Bald Eagles at a local park.  It appeared from what I observed that the birds were incubating eggs and fiercely defending the nest (and their territory) from the recently arrived Osprey.  A report from a photographer we met there indicated a few subadults had been around the day before.  We are headed there again tomorrow in hopes of finding the birds again and getting some better shots.  **NOTE: The location of this nest is NOT being disclosed (for obvious reasons).  While it is at a publicly accessible location - I'm waiting on word from the NYSDEC regarding the closing of a trail which runs very close to this nest.  Once I've been assured of that and know that the nest location is common knowledge, I would be happy to share with others.  But for now, please don't ask as the nest is vulnerable to those who are not familiar with the site and their needs.

In the next week or so I'll try to elaborate on the Bald Eagle's recovery on Long Island including how many active nests there are and some reasons for their return.  For now, enjoy the images!

1 comment:

  1. Nice write up Luke, I look forward to your posts.