Lola and the Bald Eagle

 

When the bald eagle (above) attempted to steal a ground squirrel from the golden eagle in the second and third photos, it became an aerial battle.

Yesterday, I feared I’d be seeing another, more personal battle – over a teal that I had just shot. As my retriever, Lola, approached the downed bird, my hunting partner, Tom Billingsley, uttered the words, “Bald eagle,” as he looked upward.

Sure enough a bald eagle had just passed overhead flying in Lola’s direction. It was an eagle we had seen many times in the past. As the bird dropped lower and circled Lola with the dead green-wing teal,  I felt some trepidation.

My next thought was that Lola would probably just give the bird up, but what if she didn’t? I was thinking about firing a shot into the air to scare the eagle away.

Then a pair of teal flew past and I fired at the birds twice. One of them seemed to be wounded and the eagle immediately took up the chase, leaving Lola to retrieve the dead bird that lay in the water at her feet.

IMG_0022 Lola teal by Joe

Photo by Joe DiDonato

 

I was happy to have my dog back unharmed.

No kidding.

Flickers on Bush Hog

About four or five years ago I was sitting in my deer stand about 12 feet off the ground when a flicker landed on the oak tree next to me about 25 or 30 feet away. He was gorgeous.

Flickers are common, but elusive to the lens.

It was my first opportunity to take some serious flicker photos. When I got home and checked them out, they were tremendous.

For some reason, I misplaced those photos and I’ve never figured out how, but they are gone forever.

The wind was blowing hard a few Sundays ago while working on my Airstream trailer. It was the same wind that started the now famous Napa and Santa Rosa fires.

Birds were greatly affected by the wind. A pair of pheasants walked by me without giving me a look. Then this pair of flickers landed on an old piece of farm equipment.

It was an opportunity too good to pass up. It’s not a great photo, but it is my best flicker photo. I’ll keep trying to do better, but for now – here it is.

flickers on bushhog DSC_0032[1]

Flickers on a bush hog.

Mayberry Wading Birds

Mayberry Farms is not what it once was. There was a day when we had a duck club with about 150-200 acres of shallow-flooded seasonal marsh. At times we had mud flats covered with dowitchers, stilts and avocets.

When the shallow ponds were converted to deep perenial ponds, the shore birds disappeared from our hunting territory. But occasionally they return to wade the shallow water in the fields adjacent to Mayberry.

Here are a few that were present on Sunday.

There were a few other birds around as well.

 

Notice from The North American Bird Banding Program

Received this notice today. Thought it worthy of re-publishing it here.

“Bird banding is important for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. About 60 million birds representing hundreds of species have been banded in North America since 1904. About 4 million bands have been recovered and reported.

Data from banded birds are used in monitoring populations, setting hunting regulations, restoring endangered species, studying effects of environmental contaminants, and addressing such issues as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations. Results from banding studies support national and international bird conservation programs such as Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Wetlands for the Americas.

The North American Bird Banding Program is under the general direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Cooperators include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources; other federal, state and provincial conservation agencies; universities; amateur ornithologists; bird observatories; nature centers; nongovernmental organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Audubon Society; environmental consulting firms and other private sector businesses. However, the most important partner in this cooperative venture is you, the person who voluntarily reported a recovered band. Thank you for your help.

U.S. Geological Survey
Canadian Wildlife Service

Please Report Bands at
http://www.reportband.gov
or
call 1-800-327-BAND”

Follow-up on Golden Eagle Band

The area near our ranch has a large concentration of eagles, both golden and bald. These eagles have been closely monitored for many years.

The individual who captured golden eagle 629-41062 was Daniel Driscoll. When contacted by my friend Joe DiDonato (Joe has a long history of working with golden eagles), Driscoll had the following comment.

“We captured 629-41062 as a breeding female at the Lower Indian Creek breeding area on 5-30-1996. Since she was at least 4 years old (adult) when captured, the eagle would be at least 25 years old this year.”

The Lower Indian Creek breeding area is located on the south side of San Antonio Reservoir in Alameda County. It is approximately a mile from the location where the carcass of a banded golden eagle was found yesterday. (See previous post)

Golden Eagle Band #629-41062

Over the years I’ve collected the bands of waterfowl, mostly mallards, but also a greater Canada goose, greater snow goose, one sprig and a greater white-front goose.

Once upon a time I actually participated in banding raptors at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory as a beginner at the Marin headlands. And, the band of a sharp-shinned hawk (one of the few I personally banded), was recovered and reported. It was surprising to read the report in the Raptor Observatory newsletter.

Today, Rob and I recovered a band from a non-waterfowl bird. It was the band of a golden eagle, probably one the eagles we have often observed and maybe even photographed.

The carcass of the bird was found along side the road to our ranch. It was deteriorated and rotten, but there was a band on its leg – a band that led to a great deal of interesting information about the bird.

The band report said that the bird was banded in 1996 near the Arroyo Sanitorium (about four miles south of Livermore California) and that it was hatched in 1993 or earlier. It was female. Now, over 20 years later, and at the age of 24 years or greater, the bird is dead, a testimony to the ability of eagles to survive in our modern world full of obstacles and danger.

After 20+ years, the dead bird was found only about five miles from where it was banded. Based upon a quick internet search, it appears that this bird lived to be quite old for a wild North American golden eagle.

bird-band-3-img_2849

The 20-year-old band was scratched and scared. The diameter of the band is approximately equal to the diameter of a quarter.

White-Front Goose Band #2197-76506

The band was on the right leg of the third bird from the left in the photo above. I reported it to http://www.reportband.gov this morning.

The information provided: This is a greater white-front goose banded on 7/24/2016 near Chevak Alaska in the Wade Hampton census area. It was too young to fly at the time of the banding. The bird is male.

You can see that the third bird from the left’s breast is cream-colored while the other three are speckled.There were the beginnings of specs on the young bird. The other three birds are mature adult coloration.

Chevak is located on the coast at the far western tip of Alaska. 90% of the population is native American. Native Americans have had a large impact upon the recovery of white-front geese. When I first hunting these geese over 25 years ago, their population was so low that the limit was set at one bird.

About that time, employees of the California Department of Fish and Game asked me to join a group of hunters that would accompany visiting native Americans from Alaska on a California refuge waterfowl hunt. The gentleman who joined me could only observe.

We hunted from a blind at Sacramento Wildlife Refuge. I do not recall his name, but we had a good day together. I learned from him that historically the native Americans hunted goose eggs for food. One of the reasons for the population decline of white-front geese was over-harvesting of the eggs.

The purpose of the trip was to provide more information about the life cycle of the white-front geese to these Alaskans and to provide an incentive for conservation of the species. One of the results of that conservation effort was to limit the number of goose eggs that the native Americans would harvest.

Over the years since that trip, white-front goose numbers have risen tremendously. So much so that the limit on these geese in California is now quite liberal.