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Hudson River Almanac December 30- January 5, 2004

OVERVIEW

Eagles are present in numbers along the estuary. We'll get an idea of just how many there are on January 9, when DEC conducts its 25th annual Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Census in the Hudson Valley.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

1/2/04 - Croton Bay, HRM 34: Big schools of striped bass have been feeding right at the surface for a week. You could see the tail and dorsal fins. When they moved, they put out a wave as much as a foot high. The fish left in a hurry this afternoon when two harbor seals began to feed in the bay.
- Midgie Toube, George Hatzmann

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

12/31/03 - Farmer's Landing, HRM 67.5: For the last eight years a pair of bald eagles from points north, perhaps Canada, has been wintering in this reach of the river. One of their day perches is a stubby red oak jutting from the limestone bluff across the river at Cedarcliff. We dubbed them the "Cedarcliff Pair." Each December we awaited their arrival, first one, then the other maybe a week later, after which they would provide a winter's viewing entertainment hunting along the river in southwest Dutchess County. Today one of the pair, the male, was perched in an oak along Wappinger Creek at midday. So far there has been no sign of the female.
- Tom Lake

[Bald eagle adult pairs usually arrive and depart wintering locations separately. It is thought that males arrive first and depart first. This may be done as a survival strategy, so that an accident would not befall them both in migration. Whether heading to a familiar nest at the breeding grounds or a favorite feeding perch in the wintering territory, their travel is ordinarily a singular trip, but the destination is mutual.- Pete Nye]

12/31/03 - Wappinger Creek, HRM 67.5: I saw an adult bald eagle sitting on the mud flats in early afternoon, about 100 yards from the mouth of the Wappinger Creek, just east of the train bridge.
- Dick Lahey

12/31/03 - Lake Meahagh, HRM 40.5: The recent warm spell and attendant rains took the ice out of this shallow lake, which is connected to the Hudson by a spillway and short channel. I do not recall ever having a "merganser grand slam" anywhere before, but today there they were: common, hooded, and red-breasted mergansers, all sharing the same feeding grounds.
- Christopher Letts

12/31/03 - Inbuckie, HRM 33.5: Today was our first public bald eagle program of the winter. On what should have been one of the coldest days of the year, 35 of us enjoyed April-like weather, a warm southwest breeze, and an air temperature in the 50s. From the mouth of the Croton River, we peered south into the bay at Inbuckie with our spotting scopes. The flood tide was halfway up in this long, shallow tidal flat and we could spot three adults and one immature bald eagle perched in trees along the edges waiting for fish to return with the tide. With about a 90° shift to the northwest, we could see another immature eagle along the south side of Croton Point perched in a bayside cottonwood, tearing a fish apart.
- Christopher Letts, Jim Casey, Andra Sramek, Tom Lake

1/1/04 - Town of Ashokan, HRM 91: It was a beautiful winter day to start 2004. We went to Ashokan Reservoir to walk across the dike. The beaver ponds were a hot spot with an immature bald eagle perched there checking the scene. A red-bellied as well as a pair of pileated woodpeckers were in the dead trees. The reservoir was full, overflowing, and ice-free. With a breeze causing a choppy surface we couldn't find any waterfowl.
- Fran Drakert, Bill Drakert

1/1/04 - Croton Point, HRM 35-34: We had our 18th annual New Year's Day hike today at Croton Point Park. From a half mile away we saw a similar number of eagles today (compared to yesterday) at the mouth of the Croton River. As 80 of us hiked the Point, the eagles seemed to follow: an immature chased an adult; two immatures were doing wing touches and having pseudo-battles that led to little more than a game of tag; a pair of adults were right over our heads at the crown of the landfill engaged in what appeared to be play, or romance; and finally one adult and one immature perched halfway up an oak right over our trail. We walked silently under them, holding our collective breath and avoiding eye contact. They just sat there looking at us. We estimated that we had come in fairly close contact with 4 adults and 4 immatures, entirely at the eagles' choosing, and they seemed to be at least relatively comfortable with our presence.
- Martin Aronchick, Russel Aronchick, Helen Getter, Barry Keegan

1/2/04 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: After rising three degrees last week, the river temperature has fallen to 35°F.
- John Mylod

1/2/04 - Croton Bay, HRM 34: Big schools of striped bass have been feeding right at the surface for a week. You could see the tail and dorsal fins. When they moved, they put out a wave as much as a foot high. The fish left in a hurry this afternoon when two harbor seals began to feed in the bay.
- Midgie Toube, George Hatzmann

1/3/04 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: I watched an adult bald eagle today with my spotting scope, from a distance of 300 feet, for an hour. It was perched in the top of a black locust overlooking the river, facing the sun. The air temperature was a balmy 52°F. As I watched, I could see that the bird's eyes were closed and it was nodding, slightly, from time to time. It reminded me of a grandfather sitting in a rocking chair. Could it be that this bird was taking a nap in the warm sun? I know that they "loaf" on such days; this bird was almost snoring.
- Tom Lake

1/4/04 - Lake Hill, HRM 100: This afternoon I had a merry-go-round of songbirds feeding on the berries of my winterberry bush. It began with 5 robins, then 3 male and 2 female bluebirds, later joined by 2 cedar waxwings. They all took turns flying to and from the bush to feed. Still later there were 6 cedar waxwings and 3 robins, but the bluebirds had left.
- Reba W. Laks

1/5/04 - Town of Athens, HRM 116: After another day of rain and fog, I had the pleasure of seeing the most extraordinary pink light at sunset. The dead, brown stalks of teasel and goldenrod were suddenly set aglow with a lovely rose hue. The entire slope down to the river, including two browsing white tailed deer were bathed in this delicate, fleeting luminescence. Within minutes, the landscape again appeared somber in the gathering darkness.
- Liz LoGiudice

1/5/04 - Constitution March Sanctuary, Garrison, HRM 52: At 8:30 AM a raven flew overhead, repeating a loud and deliberate "kowp kowp kowp." Sometimes when I hear that unmistakable voice I resist the impulse to look for the bird, just to revel in knowing I am near one for an extra moment.
- Eric Lind

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