The Cumberland County 2008 Eagle Festival on Saturday, February 2, began with a dawn walk at Turkey Point. [All photos by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.] The festival is held the first Saturday in February every year; mark your calendars for February 7, 2009!
The first eagle of the day was an immature, spotted by one of the festival participants from the tower at the end of Turkey Point Road. As many as 7 immature bald eagles sat together in a tree across the road from Beaver Dam Boat Rentals along Route 553. Festival leaders were stationed at Turkey Point, Maple Avenue, Beaver Dam, and Newport Landing - all sites saw plenty of eagles. The eagle pictured, digiscoped at 20 power, stopped traffic along the road from Dividing Creek to Mauricetown.
The "Maple Avenue pair," occupants of the nest visible from the Maple Avenue Causeway in Dividing Creek, was active all day - lucky observers saw stick gathering, nest building, copulation, and territorial flights at intruding eagles.
27 volunteer leaders did a great job of showing everybody birds, and not just eagles. These birders at Beaver Dam were treated to a perched Merlin, as well as flyby Common and Hooded Mergansers. Other highlights including a Peregrine Falcon chasing a Short-eared Owl, and several Rough-legged Hawks.
The day ended with the traditional Owl Watch along the end of Turkey Point Road. Here, birders gather with Snow Geese rising in the background, thanks to a passing adult Bald Eagle. Up to 8 Short-eared Owls were seen here, including several hunting over an hour before sunset, perhaps because the day before had been rainy and windy and the birds were hungry. At dusk a Great-horned owl teed up along the treeline, for scope views by many pariticipants.