Friday, June 26, 2015

ALBACORE TRIP REPORT: SEP 13, 2014

THE BEST JAEGER SCHOOL

64 JAEGERS & 2 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, Oh My!

OUR 2015 ALBACORE TRIP  SEPT. 12
Monterey seabirds and marine mammals delighted and thrilled folks on the Shearwater Journeys' offshore albacore trip on September 13, 2014. Because the marine forecast was excellent, we headed south toward the Sur Canyon area. Highlights were non-stop: BROWN BOOBY, MANX SHEARWATER, SCRIPPS'S MURRELETS, SABINE'S GULLS, ARCTIC TERNS, BLUE WHALES, BAIRDS' BEAKED WHALES, GRAND SLAM on the JAEGERS: POMARINE, PARASITIC, and LONG-TAILED putting on an amazing show to the delight of all! The albacore trip is a specialty trip, being 12 hours long, as compared to the classic trip which is 7.5 hours long. IF you can only make one trip in Monterey, make it this one! Shearwater Journeys is the only company that offers this trip. 
At daybreak, already many miles offshore, the first bird was a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, above.
It was also the last seabird of the day when we returned to the dock!

LONG-TAILED JAEGER, above, is often a very difficult to find nearshore, and even more difficult to photograph. Read on!


The best reading from Terrafin, a service I subscribe to that provides SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES, above, was a blended map due to fog. The warm water 'blob' was present everywhere. This is not necessarily good for birding. Finding the edges of where cooler water meets the warmer water is important for seabirding.

Storm-petrels have been largely absent all fall, probably feeding at some extremely distant location not reached by daily pelagic trips. However, this BLACK STORM-PETREL, above offered some nice views. A handful of endangered ASHY STORM-PETRELS allowed for flight comparisons.

One indication of exactly how flat-calm the seas were is the number of NORTHERN FUR SEALS that were observed (8). This fur seal is resting in what is called, "the jug handle position," locking its hind flipper with its fore flipper. 
A handful of LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS entertained us. This species is usually associated with offshore warm water. 
We were definitely very lucky to find two BLUE WHALES because all of the blue whales along the nearshore of the central coast of California departed about July 10th, when the krill disappeared! Blue whales are the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth, larger than any of the dinosaurs. It is difficult to grasp their size most of the time — three school buses long! Above, Beth Hamel beautifully captures the steely-blue colored flank and small dorsal fin.
The blow of a BLUE WHALE shoots some 30 feet high in the sky! 
I once saw a peregrine falcon flying through the blow of a blue whale!
Some 29 miles offshore, a BROWN BOOBY made a pass at our stern!
This fall brown boobies staged a major invasion along the coast with many reports continuing into winter/spring 2015. 
Remarkably, only one BULLER'S SHEARWATER was found. Typically, we find hundreds on the albacore trip. The masses of them must have been feeding at a temperature break that we could not reach on a one day trip. Still, one is better than none!
And the chase is on. And, on. And on!
The word "jaeger" is of German origin, meaning "hunter."
We certainly did see a lot of them hunting!
The larger jaegers, pomarines, especially, seem to chase SABINE'S GULLS. 
LONG-TAILED JAEGER, below. 
Long-tailed Jaegers often chase ARCTIC TERNS, below. 

LONG-TAILED JAEGER, subadult, above. 
Sub-adult PARASITIC JAEGER, above. 
POMARINE JAEGER, adult male, above. 
Males are smaller than females. 
A number of low, bushy blows are spied, and I'm sure we have BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES! 
This is a major specialty of trips that venture far offshore! 
In the images, above and below, Beth Hamel captures the "beaks" of these whales. 
Like all odontocetes, these toothed whales have a single blowhole, visible in the image, below. 
Females can reach 40 feet in length. Army brown in coloration, they show many scars. 
BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES, Berardius bairdii, travel in tight groups, blowing and diving synchronously, and often touching each other with their beaks. 
They could be capable of diving deeper than 9000 feet. 
They eat squid and deep dwelling fish. Indeed, we came across the remains of their food which was being consumed by BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, in the image, below!

Nearly a constant companion, PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS often follow in the wake of our vessel. 
A Grand Prize of any albacore trip is murrelets, especially sitting on the water for great views! 
This SCRIPPS'S MURRELET was one of two that were positively identified. 

It has been a big fall for the BY-THE-WIND-SAILORS, Velella velella, above.

Many thanks to the wonderful group of birders who joined us on this day who hailed from England, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Washington, Georgia, Minnesota, and California. It was a gorgeous day at sea. Leading this offshore trip were: Scott Terrill, Linda Terrill, Jennifer Green, and Debi Shearwater. 

The complete species list follows. All records are for Monterey County. SST's ranged from 63F to 60-59F. Beaufort .5 to 1.5, glassy seas, excellent conditions. We went south to the "weenie."

13 SEPTEMBER 2014 MONTEREY BAY OFFSHORE TRIP TO THE ALBACORE GROUNDS

BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 25
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 430
FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 1 (only seen by two birders)S
BULLER'S SHEARWATER- 1
SOOTY SHEARWATER- 970
*MANX SHEARWATER- 1 (photos)
BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER- 218
ASHY STORM-PETREL- 5
BLACK STORM-PETREL- 13
*BROWN BOOBY- 1 29 miles offshore; SST 60.8F
BROWN PELICAN- 40
BRANDT'S CORMORANT- 40
PELAGIC CORMORANT- 8
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE- 180
RED PHALAROPE- 4
SOUTH POLAR SKUA- 2
POMARINE JAEGER- 12
POMARINE/PARASITIC JAEGER- 2
PARASITIC JAEGER- 12
PARASITIC/LONG-TAILED JAEGER- 2
LONG-TAILED JAEGER- 36
HEERMANN'S GULL- 40
CALIFORNIA GULL- 90
WESTERN GULL- 225
ELEGANT TERN- 17
COMMON TERN- 12
COMMON/ARCTIC TERN- 4
ARCTIC TERN- 11
FORSTER'S TERN- 1
COMMON MURRE- 66
*SCRIPPS'S MURRELET- 2; SST 63.8F
CASSIN'S AUKLET- 11
RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 15
MURRELET SP.- 4
CALIFORNIA SEA LION- +
NORTHERN FUR SEAL- 8
BLUE WHALE- 2
HUMPBACK WHALE- 1
BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALE- 12 (2 groups)
LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN- 8
OCEAN SUNFISH- 20
VARIOUS JELLIES- +++


JOIN US ON OUR SEPTEMBER 12, 2015 ALBACORE TRIP! 
Another Great Birthday Trip for Me,
Debi Shearwater
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com

All images, except Baird's Beaked Whales, by Beth Hamel, copyright. 
Baird's Beakded Whales by Debi Shearwater, copyright.
Please ask permission to use. 
To see more of Beth Hamel's images, click here







Sunday, June 21, 2015

MONTEREY SEABIRDS with SHEARWATER JOURNEYS

FORTY YEARS OF MONTEREY SEABIRDING
Monterey seabirds are well know, the world over, in no small thanks to Shearwater Journeys which pioneered pelagic seabirding forty years ago. For more years than any other individual person or business, Shearwater Journeys has been the single leading seabird company offering more annual departures for both novice and expert sea birders. 
More than 60,000 birders and lovers of marine life from all over the world have participated on Shearwater Journeys' trips. 
Your ocean birding trip begins right in the harbor where we may see PIGEON GUILLEMOT, BRANDT'S and PELAGIC CORMORANTS. Along the Coast Guard Jetty, we look for BLACK TURNSTONE, SURFBIRD, WANDERING TATTLER, and perhaps, the first RED-NECKED PHALAROPES in the kelp beds. Let's not forget the CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS piled up on the jetty, or the squeals of a young SEA OTTER, or an adult enjoying breakfast, below. 
Large concentrations of seabirds, sometimes in the thousands, as happened last fall with BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS, or more often, SOOTY SHEARWATERS, feed on the nutrient-rich waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary each fall. 
Above, one of thousands of BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS just outside the harbor on many of our 2014 fall trips. Amongst them, we found several MANX SHEARWATERS, a much rarer species, below. 
This sanctuary is contiguous with the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, forming the largest protected areas in the United States. the main feature at Monterey is the huge submarine canyon which bisects the bay. This canyon is as deep as the Grand Canyon and plays a major part in the huge upwelling which brings cold, nutrient-rich waters to the surface, feeding everything from BLUE WHALES to CASSIN'S AUKLETS. Monterey Bay is one of only a few such rich marine ecosystems in the world. Many marine ecologists consider it to be the top such system. 
ANCHOVIES, below, are the stuff of life and a keystone species of this system. 
Monterey Bay is a terrific starting point for beginner sea birders. The bay is half-moon shaped lending protection from the prevailing northwest winds. This means that we generally have very good to excellent marring weather conditions, especially during fall migration. Veteran sea birders know that Monterey Bay can turn up a MEGA-RARE seabird any day. Just ask SANDY KOMITO for whom the HAWAIIAN PETREL, was a LIFE BIRD!
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, above and below, often fly right up the wake of our vessel, giving excellent views and photographic opportunities. Other shearwaters we often encounter include: SOOTY, FLESH-FOOTED, BULLER'S, and rarely, STREAKED, WEDGE-TAILED and GREAT. 
By now, we have probably glimpsed the strange OCEAN SUNFISH, (Mola mola), basking at the surface. 
A large "blob" of warm water settled along the California coast last fall. With it came some species of seabirds that we haven't observed for a few years, including this SCRIPPS'S MURRELET, below. It looks like 2015 will continue the warm water trend. 
Typically, when we stop to look at a RHINOCEROS AUKLET, the BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES fly into the wake. They often sit on the water for close inspection, as below. 
 Off Point Pinos, during fall migration we find SABINE'S GULL, below, and ARCTIC TERNS, sometimes in large flocks. These birds are usually pursued by POMARINE, PARASITIC and LONG-TAILED JAEGERS, as well as SOUTH POLAR SKUAS
 Often we head to the northern canyons which lie off the coast of Davenport because this is where the STORM-PETREL FLOCKS were last found. These flocks can include the following species of storm-petrels: ASHY, BLACK, LEAST, WILSON'S, sometimes FORK-TAILED, and rarely, LEACH'S and WEDGE-RUMPED
 In addition to seabirds, marine mammals can be quite spectacular in Monterey Bay. A huge variety of whales, including HUMPBACK, BLUE, GRAY, MINKE, FIN (rarely); BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES, ORCAS/KILLER WHALES (above and below) and dauphins: RISSO'S, PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED, NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE and BOTTLENOSE, as well as HARBOR and DALL'S PORPOISES. Many of these species are observed on our Monterey Bay trips. We often spot the whales for the whale watching boats!
KILLER WHALES, above two images, often approach our vessel very closely, especially when they have made a kill. This can be quite spectacular! 
 Over the past four decades nothing has changed more in Monterey Bay than the return of the HUMPBACK WHALES. For the past two years, no fewer than 100 HUMPBACK WHALES have been photographed, feeding on schooling fish in the bay! The Humpback above, is breaching just off the Pacific Grove coastline!
Returning to the harbor after a most enjoyable day, checking our checklists, and relaxing in the afternoon sunshine, we see the sailboats out doing the same thing. Oh, well, maybe not checking their checklists!
We present, below, the 2015 Shearwater Journeys' fall schedule of pelagic trips departing from Monterey. These trips can easily be combined with trips departing from HALF MOON BAY, SAUSALITO (to the FARALLON ISLANDS), or possibly BODEGA BAY, for a well rounded pelagic experience. It is always best to book more than one trip, from different ports, if possible. Debi Shearwater will be on every trip. By being out there on so many different trips that cover such a large area of the Central Coast, Debi can develop a good picture of how and where the seabirds are distributed — something that changes every year, and even within the season. The ALBACORE, September 12th trip which departs from Monterey is a specialty trip. Please note that on all of the trips, we shall not be out of the sight of land, unless it is fogged in. You can also view the complete schedule on on web site. Or, view it in calendar format, here. Generally, Monterey Bay trips head north, while Monterey Seavalley trips head south. However, we always go where we think we'll find the best diversity of seabirds!

MONTEREY BAY & SEAVALLEY 2015

JUL. 31 FRI. 
AUG. 7, FRI.
AUG. 21, FRI.
SEP. 5, SAT.
SEP. 8, TUE.
SEP. 9, WED.
SEP. 10, THU.
SEP. 11, FRI.
SEP. 12, SAT. - ALBACORE: OFFSHORE
SEP. 13, SUN. 
SEP. 16, WED.
SEP. 25, FRI.
SEP. 26, SAT.
SEP. 27, SUN.
OCT. 4, SUN.
OCT. 10, SAT.

DETAILS FOR MONTEREY BAY TRIPS:
DEPARTURE: 7 a.m. Fisherman's Wharf Monterey. Stop at Chris' Fishing Shop on the right hand side as you walk down the wharf. They will direct you to the boat and give you a parking voucher. (Albacore trip meet at 5:15 a.m.). 
RETURN: 3:00 p.m. Allow for delays.
PARKING: Parking can be confusing in this area, as there are two different wharves. Park in the big lot near Fisherman's Wharf. Follow the signs. Take a ticket from the machine upon entering the lot. Stop at Chris' Fishing Shop and let them know you are on the Shearwater Journeys' trip. They will give you a coupon which will significantly reduce the parking fee. Allow 10 minutes to park and walk to the shop, more time if you do not know where you are going, or need to stop to use the restroom. Try to check this area out the day prior to your trip. 
PRICE ADJUSTMENT: Should the pricing increase, an adjustment may be necessary at the dockside, from $5-15 per person, payable in cash only. Do not send payment ahead with your reservation. This will only occur if rates increase. (Rates on this schedule were posted in October 2014). 
FOOD & DRINKS: Please bring all food and drinks, including water in a small day pack. None is available on the boat. 
MOTELS: There are thousands of motels in the Monterey area. However, they can be fully booked, if an "event" is happening — which is often. Booking motel rooms ahead of arrival almost always results in lower rates, as opposed to walking in the front door without a booking. Motels in the sleepy town of Pacific Grove are especially nice with easy access to birding along Ocean View Blvd. for rocky shorebirds. A bit closer to the wharf (but still requiring a vehicle), any motel on Munras Avenue is fine. 
RESERVATIONS: $168/person. DISCOUNT of $40 to celebrate our 40th year, if booked by 1 JULY. No refunds on discounted trips. The Albacore trip is $199/person (discount not available for that trip). Please follow instructions on the web site for booking

JUMP ON BOARD! 
HELP US CELEBRATE OUR 40TH YEAR!
SHEARWATERS FOREVER,
Debi Shearwater
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com

Images in this blog post, copyright: 
Beth Hamel, Brian Sullivan, Debi Shearwater



Saturday, June 20, 2015

FORTY YEARS of CALIFORNIA SEABIRDING

with

SHEARWATER JOURNEYS


Shearwater Journeys will celebrate its 40th year of seabirding this fall! 
And, we'd love to invite you to celebrate with us. 
From Crescent City in far northern California to San Diego — and places in between — Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, Monterey Bay, Half Moon Bay, Sausalito, Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg — Shearwater Journeys has offered more pelagic seabirding trips along the California coast for the past forty years than anyone. In our hey day, more than sixty trips per year departed for offshore destinations such as the Davidson Seamount, Cordell Bank, Bodega Canyon, Noyo Canyon Tanner & Cortez Banks, Arguello Canyon, Rodriguez Dome, and the Farallon Islands.

 Some 60,000+ birders and marine life enthusiasts have participated in thousands of Shearwater Journeys' pelagic trips over these past four decades. Participants, along with more than a hundred leaders over the years, have contributed an immense amount of data, advanced the progression of seabird field guides, fought for National Marine Sanctuaries collecting thousands of signatures, advocated for conservation laws, witnessed the return of the great whales from near decimation, seen the "return" of some seabirds such as Short-tailed Albatross and the decline of others, such as Sooty Shearwater and Ashy Storm-Petrel. 

We've discovered a long, long list "first" North American seabird records and found many rare-for-California seabirds. We've battled gill netting which killed thousands of Sooty Shearwaters and Common Murres, and won. We remember when Laysan Albatrosses did not nest on islands off Mexico! Marine mammals have not been neglected on our trips. We set the wheels in motion to rescue an entangled humpback whale only for the rescuers to be thwarted by the appearance of killer whales! We launched the first-ever in the world, blue whale tagging program with EarthWatch in mid-1980's. Beginning in the late 1970's, we collected the first of hundreds of killer whale images that would be used in ID catalogues. And, we're still at it today. 

And, we've been out there in the blue, at sea, during the biggest El Nino events of our lifetime, 1982-83 and 1998, during La Nina events and everything in between. The 1982-83 El Nino impacted every continent on Earth, and we saw events transpire in Monterey Bay that have never repeated. OH, wait a minute. I hear the red crabs are back, at least in SoCal: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/06/17/red-crabs-swarm-southern-california-linked-to-warm-blob-in-pacific/

There's so much more. Indeed, I could write a book about the changes I've seen. Our roots are deep and vast much like a giant kelp forest moving with the currents. It  has been a long and winding journey — and, we could not have done it without you! I am, personally, grateful and thankful for every one of you, many of whom continue to ride the seas with us, four decades later! THANK YOU!

CELEBRATE WITH US 40 YEARS!

MONTEREY BAY TRIPS:
JULY 31; AUGUST 7, 21; SEPTEMBER 5, 8, 0, 1O, 11, 13, 16, 25, 26, 27; OCTOBER 3, 10.
ALBACORE: OFFSHORE MONTEREY: SEPTEMBER 

HALF MOON BAY TRIPS: 
AUGUST 2, 8, 16; SEPTEMBER 6, 15; OCTOBER 4, 11.

FARALLON ISLANDS:
AUGUST 9: TUFTED PUFFINS

& BREEDING SEABIRDS - limited spaces available
OCTOBER 18: GREAT WHITE SHARKS & SEABIRDS

BODEGA BAY: 
SEPTEMBER 18: CORDELL BANK & BODEGA CANYON

DISCOUNTS: To celebrate our 40th year, we are offering a $40 discount on all Monterey Bay trips, except the Albacore trip, September 12th. We offer a $20 discount on our Half Moon Bay, Bodega Bay and Farallon Islands trips. All discounted trips are non-refundable, unless weathered out (unlikely) and must be postmarked by July 1. Act now!

LEADERS: Three to five friendly leaders, sometimes more, will accompany each trip to assist in searching for and pointing out seabirds. Most of our leaders have worldwide experience with seabirds. Some leaders have been leading for with us four decades! All leaders are volunteers. 

TRIP REPORTS: We track county lines and write eBird checklists for all of our trips. Most of our trips cover more than one county. For past trip reports including images and complete checklists, click here.

August 2nd has proved to be an auspicious date for HAWAIIAN PETREL: August 2, 2014 at Half Moon Bay, this petrel flew right up our wake only a few miles out of the harbor. August 2, 2013 at Monterey Bay, I spotted this petrel without bins, flying alongside our vessel with a load of Sooty Shearwaters only 8 miles off Point Pinos! Most of the Hawaiian Petrels that I've seen in central California have been less than 10 miles offshore, including three in one day out of Fort Bragg. Where will you be on August 2, 2015?

For me, there has never, ever been a dull moment. Never. If you sense a deep and abiding love of seabirds and marine mammals — 
Shearwaters Forever,
Debi Shearwater
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com



Saturday, May 2, 2015

BONDED BY BIRDING: GLOBAL BIG DAY: MAY 9 2015

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has launched a GLOBAL BIG DAY for MAY 9, 2015, inviting everyone around the world to participate. It is very simple: submit your eBird checklists to eBird for on this day. You can fund raise, or donate funds yourself. Folks who submit 5 checklists will be entered in a contest to win a free pair of Zeiss binoculars. 
WILL YOU HELP?
I shall be counting birds in my home county, SAN BENITO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, hoping for a BIG DAY! 
Along with my team, I already hold the Big Day record of 155 species of birds for April 29, 2911
In this drought-ridden year, it will be tough to top 2011. 
I hope you'll do a Big Day, or submit a checklist, even from your own yard on May 9th.
Just imagine how many of us around the globe will be bonded in birding!
BIRDING ON THE FAULTLINES,
Debi
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com

Friday, April 24, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: FIRST RECORD of WEDGE-RUMPED STORM-PETREL @ FARALLON ISLANDS


All rights reserved, Point Blue Conservation Science

THIS POST IS FROM POINT BLUE CONSERVATION SCIENCE'S FACEBOOK PAGE:
On April 19th, Point Blue Farallon biologist, Pete Warzybok and his field crew were conducting the first Ashy Storm-petrel netting session of the breeding season when they captured a rare visitor to the California Current. The unusual Storm-petrel that found its way into their mist-net was much smaller than the typical Ashy and Leach’s Storm-petrels that breed on the islands and it had an unusual triangular shaped white patch on the rump that didn't look right, even for the smallest races of Leach’s. Photos and measurements were taken, the bird was banded and then released to go about its way. Upon consulting with field guides and experts in the field of Storm-petrel identification, the identification was confirmed. They had captured the island’s first ever Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma tethys)! This particular small individual likely belonged to the kelsalli subspecies, also known as the Peruvian Storm-petrel, and is normally found in waters over the continental shelf between Mexico and Chile. This species is very rare off of California and the Farallon bird represents the farthest north they have ever been encountered. Interestingly, all records have occurred during periods of warmest ocean temperatures, providing further evidence for the unusual warming conditions observed in the Gulf of the Farallones this year.
Speaking of rare birds, this Saturday will mark the three-year Ganniversary of the Northern Gannet on the Farallones. The first, and as far as we know only, Gannet in the Pacific first arrived at the Farallones on April 25th 2012. With the exception of a few sightseeing visits to San Francisco, it has been present at the island almost every day since.
Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel is a mega rare seabird anywhere in the USA. Additionally, a TRISTRAM'S STORM-PETREL carcass was recently found on the Farallon Islands. Things are hot offshore! There could not be a better time to plan your trip. Shearwater Journeys' calendar of 2015 trips can be found at our web site. Book early, and book often! 
See you out there!
Storm-Petrels Forever, 
Debi Shearwater
debi@shearwaterjourneys.com

Thursday, February 26, 2015

NESTING BALD EAGLE PAIR in SAN BENITO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

MY HEART CARTWHEELS


Just about thirty days ago I arrived home from three months in the Southern Hemisphere. First thing I did was head to the BALD EAGLE NEST to check up on "Bob & Bernadette," as I named this pair. B & B were the first pair of Bald Eagles to nest in San Benito County, beginning in 2004. In the dimming evening light, I struggled to "see" the nest. Much had changed since my departure last October. Hillsides were green instead of brown, for one thing! However, I could not find the nest — and, the horror finally struck me — the 11 year old nest had become too heavy and the branches finally gave way! Last year, we estimated that the nest was 18 to 20 feet across and probably 10 feet deep. Each year, I've watched as B & B rebuilt the nest. They begin doing this in late October. So, when I left the country, all was well with the nest fully completed for (hopefully) another successful season.

Bob and Bernadette are considered an "advanced" couple  — tending the same nest for nearly 8 months of the year, every year steadily for 11 years. They lay eggs earlier than most Bald Eagles, even at this latitude. Consequently, the young hatch earlier. I
n all years, save one, they have managed to fledge not one, but two young. To date, they have successfully raised some twenty Bald Eaglets! This, in spite of the persistent drought. One reason for their great success is that they primarily rely on ground squirrels for food. (I confirmed this by watching for many hours). They do not rely on waterfowl, nor fish. 

The nest is on private property and the owners are well aware of it. A handful birders and locals know about the nest and have been extremely guarded about revealing the location. I cannot thank everyone enough for this. Some Bald Eagles are greatly disturbed by people and abandoned their nest. A big part of B & B's success depends on you, too. You know who you are.

For nearly three weeks, I've had a case of "empty nest" syndrome, missing them more than I thought possible. They were such a regular part of my life. I would see a Bald Eagle, and think that is was "Bob" or "Bernadette" — and, I was pretty sure. Like longing for a lost love, I'd drive through their valley home. Once I saw Bob sitting in a large tree, clutching a dead ground squirrel for half an hour. This raised my curiosity. Was he bringing food to Bernadette? There was no doubt in my mind that they would carry on, building a new nest, either this year, or next. However, the decades' long nest was so convenient for watching and such a part of my life. 

Last night I made the drive once again, hoping against hope. I was elated to see BERNADETTE ON A NEW NEST! My heart did cartwheels! The new nest is just about in the same tree, but is only about one fifth the size of the old, crashed nest. There is another nest in the tree. Perhaps, they built it first. From what I could tell, she appeared to be sitting on egg(s). She looked as though her head was tucked in and she was sleeping. I'm crossing my fingers on this and will return to check on things — practically, daily. (Okay, I get obsessed with them). My notes say that they were incubating on 20 February in 2013. So, timing is right. Stay tuned —

Many, many thanks to all who guard this nest! 
Happy Trails,
Debi Shearwater