Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Eagles return to ridge and nest

There have been far fewer bald eagles wintering in the Nisqually delta than I've seen in a long time. The chum salmon run was much less bountiful than last year. So much so that the chum fishing season was closed early.

In winter of 2011, I spotted at least a dozen bald eagles at a time along the Nisqually River. I shared the company of eagles - lots of them - to bring in the new year in 2012.

I've wondered if my favorite eagle pair would return to the nest this season. Occasionally I would see a juvenile in the area and, once, saw both male and female mates flying in the area in January. For the past couple of weeks, though, I've seen papa in his favorite snag where he watches over his mate and the nest. He spends a lot of time stretching and cleaning every feather - twice. No sign - or sound - from mama though. In the past few years, they would talk to each other - he from the snag and she from the nest.

Padme the wonderdog, and occasionally my son, would walk with me down the street where we can see the nest, watch papa for awhile, then head on our way. Papa was always patient, ever-vigilant. Young eagles, in fact many young raptors, wouldn't survive without two devoted parents.

These two are truly a team and are quite fond of each other. They talk together, fly together, roost together, hunt together. And take turns caring for their young.

Last weekend, we had glorious sunny weather here with temps in the 60s. I took the opportunity to visit the nest area at least once a day. Early evening about
an hour before sunset always offers at least a couple of chances to photograph last activity before sleep.

Papa lifted off from the snag and headed for another favorite tree directly over the nest tree. Meanwhile I spotted mama flying out of the trees near the nest, and they both started talking to each other in that chortling call they use with kin. They both circled around the nesting area, then settled atop the tree close to each other. And talked and talked. The whole experience lasted maybe 10 minutes.

Then mama flew back to the next and disappeared into its depths. She's probably still sitting on eggs, so can take short stretch breaks but cannot leave for more than a few minutes. Looking at these images again, though, I think that's actually papa who left the shared tree for the nest. Mama is bigger and has a bill that comes almost straight out from her head. Papa has more of an indent at the juncture between his forehead and bill. These two are fabulous parents, to be sure.

I started photographing this pair in April 2011. Since then, I've observed and learned their routines, how they interact with humans and other animals. And, of course, photographed hundreds of eagle activities.

And, so it begins again.

No comments:

Post a Comment