Locating the Golden Eagle Nest

Late last week, Eric and Cathy Parker reported seeing a raptor and hearing calls that were probably a Golden Eagle. Yesterday Chuck Susie found a nest on the cliffs above the west end of Blue Lake, and today was able to confirm that it was in active use by a pair of Golden Eagles. He is checking with others, but is thinking the young are around 10 days old – which would suggest the eagles have been nesting there for over a month.

Given the lack of the bigger small mammals that I understand Golden Eagles tend to prefer, I was wondering what they could be eating here. I heard from biologist Steve Lewis (who is doing some work with Golden Eagles in the state), that given the prey animals on Baranof, it’s most likely they are going for ptarmigan.

The nest is visible from the parking lot at the end of Blue Lake Road. It is well up on the cliffs, and though it is visible with binoculars, a spotting scope is definitely recommended.

While I was up there this evening, I took some photos to document where to look for the nest.

These photos were taken from the cement and metal bench closest to the dam at the little lake overlook viewing area.

Wide view from the bench – circle is where the nest is, the arrow points to a prominent orangeish rock face.

Zoomed in a bit – circle is where the nest is, and the arrow is pointing to the same orange-colored rock face.

The upper arrow points to a distinctive pale patch that is helpful for orienting on the nest, the lower arrow points at the nest.

Zoomed all the way in – showing the pale patch and the nest

Even with a powerful telephoto lens and lots of cropping, the adult Golden Eagle is only barely visible in the nest.

The extended white wing of one of the chicks stands out, though.

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Rainy Night and Morning

The forecast for today had originally been for partly cloudy weather and little or no rain. I had planned to take care of this year’s Breeding Bird Survey, which requires a 2:30am rise time.

Yesterday the forecast for today had changed to rain for the morning, but I set my alarm with hopes that perhaps it would be intermittent showers at worse.

Instead, I woke to continuous rain with occasional heavier showers. The survey is supposed to take place during fair weather, so I decided to call it off for today.

As it turns out, that was a good choice, as the rain continued straight through into the afternoon. The rain did let up and the clouds even thinned enough to make it seem like the sun might peak through.

A brief stop by the lake this morning did not reveal the Cinnamon Teal, but there was a Northern Shoveler preening on the peninsula.

This afternoon I worked on photos and did some catching up with the last couple of months of photojournals (at least for days without many photos).

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Ground Beetle Crossing the Road

Just one photo today – I was walking home this morning and noticed an introduced ground beetle (Carabus nemoralis) crossing the road.

Conditions were a bit breezy at times during the day, with occasional showers and some sunny breaks.

Coming out of the movie theater downtown this evening I could see a pink cloud over Bear Mountain in the east, and intensely pink skies to the northwest where the sun was setting. I later so pictures posted on social media with rainbows and other vibrant colors from various places around town. It was one of those glorious summer sunsets we have from time to time. Had I been out a bit earlier, I probably wouldn’t have tried to get somewhere to take pictures, but as it was, just tried to enjoy it while walking home.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Swan Lake and Galankin Island

I made a trip downtown today with a stop by Swan Lake. The male Redhead was there with a female Gadwall, but I did not see the female Redhead that had been there previously.

This evening I went out to Galankin Island with Kitty and Allison – Allison was hoping to resight some of the birds she banded there last year. Kitty had seen one earlier in the week, but Allison had no luck while she was out there.

I suspect the Song Sparrows lost their fledgling. The male has been singing regularly again – I think they’ve made (or are working on) a new nest somewhere in the neighbor’s yard, as the preferred singing locations have changed as well. At first I thought perhaps the young bird had become independent, but I’ve seen other fledgling continuing to follow adults around begging, despite being quite capable of flight.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Indian River

While walking back from the automotive place (car was getting an oil change), I stopped to take a picture of Indian River at the bridge. Flow seems to be fairly typical for spring, and it doesn’t look like the channel has really changed that much in the past year or so – perhaps because there haven’t been any particularly high water events.

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Sitka Nature Show #158 – Fred Bassett (encore)

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The June 3rd show featured a conversation with hummingbird bander Fred Bassett. The conversation was originally recorded in 2013 when Fred was travelling through Alaska banding Rufous Hummingbirds. You can read about his trip in a brief report he published (pdf) on his website, hummingbirdreaserch.net.

The PBS video he mentioned during the show with the hummingbird interacting with a bumblebee can be seen on youtube here.

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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