Saturday, February 23, 2013

Waiting herons

Many great blue herons hunt in the Nisqually River delta and Puget Sound. I once watched a heron hunting at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge for half an hour. They are very patient hunters, slowly walking or wading, then like snapping up prey in the blink of an eye. Wait for it...BAM!

I wrote about Today's Pterodactyl last month in this blog. I'm hoping to photograph one of the heron rookeries this spring. In the meantime, I'll scan the skies for those massive wings and the river delta for patient hunters.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New eagle at the nest

This is about a month ahead of when I've seen nesting activity on our hill for the past few years. I've spotted my favorite eagle pair once so far this winter. They flew over us in early January during our usual evening walk. I photographed papa eagle in one of the favorite trees in November. I've also spotted adult and juvenile eagles in the distance at Nisqually National Wildlife refuge. I don't know if the pair are among them or not.

Yesterday, I spotted a young female bald eagle atop a tree near the ridge. I watched and photographed her for a few minutes, then she flew off to one of the trees in the nesting area a few blocks away. There have been reports of a new roosting area about a half mile from the nest. I've been checking that area about once a week and occasionally see juvenile eagles. I haven't seen any nest-building there though. Last night, I drove down to the new area after this young adult flew from the ridge. When I drove past the tree where she was roosting en route home, she was still there. Is she a new potential mate, or is she looking for a mate while attempting to claim the nest? There doesn't appear to be much building activity at the current nest site either.

Bald eagles don't breed until they're mature, at about five years old. If there's a sparse population of eagles in an area, they may breed as young as four years old. Their age corresponds with the emergence of pure white heads and tails. That's how I know the female I photographed yesterday wasn't fully mature. She still has a light gray mask by her eyes and her tail feathers are tipped in black.

Last April, a young adult female visited the nest area, staying for several minutes. She was clearly interested in what was happening in the nest which was most certainly mama eagle incubating her eggs. This could be the same eagle.