Receiving the email last week, I printed off all the required documentation, made copies and have been reviewing it on and off. Yes, next week all the volunteers (including myself) will once again participate in the Midwinter Eagle Survey, a National initiative co-ordinated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
Here in CT, in 2020 we had 230 volunteers that covered 588 miles of shoreline located at 150 observation sites spot 181 Eagles. Those numbers increased from the previous year. Last year was a beautiful sunny, warm and balmy day so by mid-morning it was great for soaring and riding thermals.
This year our weather will start off in the 20's rising to high 30's which is a decent forecast as well. One year, it was 0 with wind chills of -8 degrees so 20-30 temps will be great! All conditions are recorded...temperature, wind speed, wind direction, percentage of ice cover if present, cloud cover, precipitation if any as well as total linear miles surveyed and the methods used.
However, I do not know how COVID will impact the number of volunteers, although in this immediate area, the COVID numbers continue to rise. Maintaining a 6' distance may be difficult at times especially when navigating a narrow trail long the river.
During the four hours we are being asked to "spend as much of this window as possible looking for eagles." Once again, my equipment will include binoculars, a spotting scope and my range finder all useful tools when looking for perched and or soaring eagles. Scanning both high and low shoreline trees carefully is a must since immatures are more difficult to see when hidden by the boughs of the thick pines. The frequented shoreline will be surveyed slowly and methodically when determining roost or non-roost along with time of day.
As Eagles are seen, they are classified as adults or immatures. The latter are then "aged" by characteristics into juvenile, second, third, and fourth year birds. Sometimes classifying them is difficult unless the undercarriage can be seen clearly, although one year a quick photo I took showed it was clearly a juvie while other observers thought it was a second year bird.
Hoping that COVID doesn't find me...fingers crossed...
seeing, saying, sharing...