Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Bald Eagle Nest Check and a First For the Season!

I saw a quick check by the sitting eagle, then she ducked down out of sight and didn't pop up again while I was in this position.  There is a blizzard forecast for just south of this area so there may be weather action here as well.  Plus, though the the actual temperature is 33 F.,  the real feel  is nearer 20 due to a gusting wind.
Upon scrutiny....if you look at the top left edge of the nest that may be the sitter's head obscured through the middle by a branch but an eye observing just over the top of the branch.
See the speck center in the sky?  That's an eagle.  Possibly Eagle  Dad but possibly someone else as the eagle overshot the nest and headed in the direction of the conservation area.  I decide to head for the conservation area as well.
When  I get to the conservation area pickings appear pretty slim as well.  A pair of Canada Goose.
That is until I looked over near the treeline. 
BINGO!  My first pair of Sandhill Cranes for the season! 
They see me and perk up...

Then go back to their business.  Either they know they are on restricted land or perhaps they also know that I'm on the other side of a fence and I can't fly therefore they have plenty of time to take off if necessary.

The male does periodically lift his head and give me the eye.

Then I hear loud rattle calls coming from behind me.  
And I mean LOUD!  They can be heard while still 2 to 2 1/2miles away.

If you have never  heard Sandhill Cranes click the link below.

There is continuous calling as they pass over the foraging Sandhill Cranes and over the trees which flank the Mill Race. 
The Race is a man made channel dug back in the day to divert water from the Sugar River into the town of Brodhead, WI in order to run a mill.

The flying cranes reach the trees, make a hard left and disappear into the distance amongst the trees.
Then a third Sandhill Crane appears on the trajectory of the two  who just flew through and disappears from sight as well.  Possibly a colt from last season following the pair?
4:46:20 A flock of geese fly over. 

4:46:37  Seventeen seconds later a Bald Eagle appears in hot pursuit.

4:47:13  She's an immature.  Remember it takes a Bald Eagle three years to mature into their white head and tail.  She heads in the direction the geese took.
 4:47:20 But then appears to be going into the trees the Eagles tend to hunt from.
When I spotted the young Eagle flying in, I also saw a pair of raptors circling in the distance which I took to be Red-tailed Hawks.  Conceivably that was because I expect to see Red-tail pairs circling in courtship flights at this time of year.   In truth I don't have a drop dead ID on them.
In the meantime...
In the meantime the young Eagle has turned round and given me "the look".  Also note the wind blowing her feathers.  It is downright cold out here at least for me as the sun disappears.
Young Eagle starts working on her feathers.  I start working my way back to the car.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

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