Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bald Eagles in Paris

Holly was sleeping and the kids were either napping or playing nicely downstairs, trying to get over a bad cold that most of them have.  So I made a quiet exit and headed out to Glen Morris and Paris to the Grand River.  I had seen a posting that there were four juvenile Bald Eagles frequenting a field west of Grand River and thought I'd see if an ice Sunday drive with my camera would turn into any nice sightings.

The field and roads in the vicinity of the purported location yielded nothing, and along the drive I wasn't even seeing the Red-tailed hawks which I expected would be out on a somewhat sunny afternoon.  However, as I drove towards Paris on the west side of the river, I saw a set of the classic red-tailed hawk silhouettes circling lazily in the sky over the opposite side.  They were maintaining their location, so I hoped maybe they'd still be there once I'd crossed the river in Paris and doubled back.

juvenile Bald Eagle on the Grand River (heavily cropped shot!)
Well, I got something  better...  just as I passed under the high rail bridge on Willow Street (see this map) a huge form flew over head and banked back towards the river.  A juvenile Bald Eagle landed in a snag across the river.  I quickly parked, jumped out and got off only one picture before it flew away, heading south and raising all the Canadian Geese into the air from their grazing in the golf course across the way.

Back in the car, I followed in pursuit and parked in the rail trail parking lot just a little further down, where I couldn't see any sign of the bird after pushing my way through the bush to the top of the steep bank of the river.  I did pause there to speak with an older gentleman who walks the trail every day.  He mentioned he had heard there were two adults and two juveniles, and that there was talk of the adults nesting in the area.  I'm hoping someone on Guelph/Cambridge/KW Birding has heard more of this and can fill me in.  Here's hoping they stay in the area.  Bald Eagles have made quite a come back in the Great Lakes area, and around this area having been seen for a number of years now along the Grand River, and in Hamilton Harbour.  They have nested in Brantford in the past and are being watched in Coote's Paradise on RBG side this year, hopeful that they will raise some young there.  The last link from RBG gives some brief history on Bald Eagles in the area.

Well, I headed down to the old railway bridge lookout (near the end of Blue Lake Road) off the Rail Trail.  I waited there for a while, seeing if there was anything of interest.  The older gentleman had said he's sat their before and watched the eagles soar right past at eye level.  While waiting I saw a lone, injured Canada Goose float by.  It appeared to have a broken wing.  I can't imagine it will survive long like that.  (The picture is heavily cropped as it was on the far side of the river.)

Canada Goose with broken wing

My patience finally paid off, as soon on the horizon, flying north towards me were two large sets of wings.  They were having fun, jockeying in the air.  Hard to capture in pictures.  Again, they were far off, but it was still exciting to see the large shapes that your eye immediately knows are larger than the typical hawk proportions.

Two juvenile Bald Eagles having fun.
They landed in a large tree down river where they called to each other for a while.  It was strange, sort of almost a whistling sound.  

juvenile Bald Eagles

Then, after about 5 minutes, they took off and, to my dismay, headed south instead of north towards me, swiftly flying towards Paris and climbing up the bluff and somewhere into town.

I have to admit I never expected to see any Eagles when I left, but was quite pleased to be able to see them  after all.  I'll have to try and get some more information about where they are regularly being seen and make some more trips in the future.  If they're hanging around here, the lookout is only a 10 minute drive from my place.  Finally, a bird I pursued found! :)

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