I’ve photographed three Bald Eagles hunting and scavenging since the third of March. A friend saw a mature eagle flying with a stick in its talons on March 4 – nest building (or nest enhancement). It’s becoming more and more difficult to remember the Bald Eagle as an endangered species. In 1976 just one nesting pair, a nonproductive pair, was reported for the entire state of New York; today there are several hundred nesting pairs in the state.
Eagles are opportunistic predators and will hunt, steal and scavenge for food. In this region, the carcasses of road-killed deer in farm fields are a dietary staple in winter.
When eagles discover a rich food source like this, they can gorge, storing much of the ingested meat (up to two pounds) in their crop.
I wasn’t able to determine the relationship between these birds, other than the dominance of one over the other at the feeding site. The adult plumage indicates sexual maturity and an age of at least five years (longevity in the wild averages about 20 years). The average weight of an eagle is about 10 pounds; females tend to be about 25% larger than males, and one bird does appear to be larger than the other.They could be a mated pair, doing what eagles do – squabbling over food.
Many of my posts are linked, directly or indirectly, to the elaborate water transportation system engineered in New York State in the 19th century. The network of canals, reservoirs, feeder canals and associated wetlands that once transformed the movement of coal, agricultural products and people across New York and Pennsylvania are now critical wildlife and outdoor recreation resources that define the Central New York region.
Wood Duck on the Chenango Canal
A small section of the Chenango Canal (originally a 97 mile long feeder to the Erie Canal that operated from 1836 to 1877), has stood the test of time. It is now listed on the National and New York State Registry of Historic Places. The massive, chiseled stones in this aqueduct provide a vivid historical perspective: Immigrant workers from Ireland and Scotland, aided by mules, oxen and horses, built the entire canal by hand. At the height of the construction, there were 500 laborers per section, toiling for $11.00 a month.
The remains of a 19th century aqueduct on the Chenango Canal
Certain that the arrival of cold, wind and snow would lead to sightings of migrating snow geese in fields, I’ve kept a watchful eye on proven habitats: harvested corn fields. Crows, Canada geese and barren landscapes have been the rule; no snow geese to date.
I walk for wellness but this morning I came home with a stiff neck! I watched wave after wave of geese flying high and with purpose, all moving in a northerly direction. Three or four thousand birds passed overhead in an hour, many of them so high they were more easily heard than seen, dark specs strung out across the puffy white clouds.
Spring water splashing and freezing over moss-covered rocks creates one of my favorite winter macros. I often photograph the same site, knowing that these are incredibly dynamic landscapes that never repeat. They’re also fleeting. I had hoped to do more with this particular formation but the next day found nothing but melting snow and rushing water – no ice.