East Texas Naturalist Blog

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Eagle Update - Injured Eagle Near Nest Site on Lake O' the Pines

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As I understand it, Robby Henderson with the Corps of Engineers had received a call on Thursday from some folks who said they had found an immature eagle on its back close to the nest that we all watched this past year, and with no apparent signs of injury.  Robby advised them to bring the bird to him on Friday, and he would try to locate a rehab facility.  

Now that's the big hurdle, because large bird rehab facilities are few and far between, and with funding cuts, even the ones in operation have a hard time.  Thankfully, Beverly Grage of Wild and Free Again in Lindale agreed to take this eagle, even though she is not accepting new birds due to the cost.  

At first sight, it was sad to see this beautiful bird upside down and lethargic in an undersized pet carrier, but also amazing to be able to touch the unbelievably soft feathers, the sharp talons, and that massive beak.  While getting everything arranged, we were able to get some water through a straw to the bird, and it seemed to come to life and hold the head upright - even trying to grab the straw.  

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Michael
Thank you for the information and fantastic photos of "OUR" eagle. Please keep us informed.
Saturday, 05 November 2016 19:41
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Eagle Sightings of the Past Month on Lake O' the Pines

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It's a good problem to have, really. . . so many eagle photos from the past month that it's hard to choose what to post. I'm realizing this while going through the time-consuming process of culling and sorting, so I'll grab a few of the better ones for this update, and just roll with it.   

The good news is that the nest on Watts Island is intact and actually in an even better position for viewing.  The high water levels of the past few months have caused more erosion, and several of the tall pines have fallen from all the stress, but a few weeks ago we were happy to see two mature birds - the parents, we suspect - close to the nest one evening. 

Another day, in an old dead snag adjacent to the nest and across the channel at Johnson's Creek, we saw an immature eagle that looked to be first year.  As we approached, he/she flew and landed in another dead tree, where a more mature bird sat in the top.  (Kind of reminded me of hanging out with upper classmen.)  The older bird had the telltale beginnings of a white head, which would indicate that she/he has more years than the other, with its mottled brown coloration and no sign of white on the head.  As those feathers on both the head and tail come in they almost look dirty, but ultimately transition to that blazing white that is just so distinctive.  

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Michael
I love eagle season and it is so good to see the pictures and to hear that so many are around right now. I will be visiting Lakesi... Read More
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 09:12
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Pelicans have arrived on Lake O' the Pines!

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All of them, dreary photos, really, except when you consider the subject matter and that this means we wll soon be seeing these massive birds overhead.  They will be on the "big" lake and in the creeks and channels. On sunny days and against a blue sky, they will create one of the most impressive sights you will ever see.  They will commingle with Double-crested Cormorants, herding fish together, all the while looking like great big pillows.  I am so happy that they are back!

This morning, as I made a pass through Lakeside before the sun came up, I did a double-take toward Hurricane Creek bridge.  I had to get my binoculars to confirm that what I first thought might be a small white boat was actually four American White Pelicans!  A little later overhead, I saw the familiar spiral pattern as a huge pod of pelicans circled overhead.  This is the earilest I have ever seen them on Lake O' the Pines.  This is not to say that they haven't arrived this early, but it does seem that every year I spot them earlier than the previous year. 

Great news, this, because they will be on the lake and at Caddo through this winter and close to April. When you stop to think about it, we get to enjoy them nearly half the year, and their arrival always signals the ascent into fall temperatures and turning leaves.  Winter won't be too far behind, but I believe that the sight of these beautiful birds floating on the chilly waters will make it easier to endure any inconvenient trade-offs that Mother Nature might bring. Keep your eyes peeled and get your cameras ready for some fantasic photo opportunities!  

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Eaglet Update - It's Getting to be That Time Again!

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I came across this photo the other day of an immature from about this time last year, spreading its wings and soaring over Lake O' the Pines.  

They've been here all along, but as cool, crisp temperatures arrive, we will be getting out on the lake more, and as all biridng activity picks up, there will be opportunities for more sightings.  Up close and personal sightings - not just the quick fly-bys of late.  

As I was crossing Alley Creek one day last week, seemingly out of nowhere a mature eagle flew from one side of the bridge to the other; I pulled over and watched as he circled the upper end.  In Lakeside Park another day, there was a huge Bald Eagle sitting in the once flourishing - but now very dead after the high water - pine tree at the end of the point by the Opsrey tower.  When the tree was alive and healthy, this was a favorite lookout for many birds, but most notably for eagles.  For years I would look there first, but it seemed like as the needles died, only the woodpeckers cared to frequent the branches.  I had gotten out of the habit of checking this tree, and this just goes to show that if you keep your eyes open, you never know what you'll see or where you'll see it.  Wow, and isn't that all just part of the beauty of nature? 

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Eaglet Update - Elusive Sightings

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The Bald Eagle population, including immatures, is definitely active on Lake O' the Pines as we near fall.  We haven't been able to get shots from the water this past rainy month because of the obvious, including those  random outbursts that we've had almost daily. I can attest that there is activity because every time I've had a chance to go on foot to Lakeside Park, Alley Creek, or Hurricane Creek during this time, I've spotted at least one eagle.  From land, they are typically more evasive, so I have lots and lots of hurried shots as they navigate themselves to a place on the lake where I am not.   

One misty morning last week, I got a very distant photo of an immature eagle fishing in Hurricane Creek from Lakeside. They have a way of flying when hunting that is unmistakable.  It was too far away to be a decent image, but it did my heart good to see those massive wings beat above the water, circle, then go down for that split-second grab. Get ready. We have a lot to look forward to this fall around Lake O' the Pines.  

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