This cam, run by The Center for Conservation Biology, is for research, but also for the public to view life in and directly around a bald eagle’s nest. Right now, the two eaglets are close to fledging (flying off the nest for the first time) and has everyone on the edge of their own nest rails, a buzz in the Eagle Cam viewers world.
If you have not spent time on the Eagle Cam, you should. Click here to link to the Eagle Cam. The moderated chat runs during the following hours: 8-10am, 12-1pm & 6-8pm. The video stream is up all the time.
When I first visited the online Eagle Cam in early February I watched a little bit here and there, marveling at the two parent eagles, Virginia & James. Nestorations (love that word), then the egg laying, then 35 days of incubation and finally the hatching. By the time the first egg hatched I was online chatting with the moderators and other chatters, learning something new about bald eagles every time.
Then came the drama of the two parents inability to find fish to feed their very young eaglets during a long, spring flood on the river. Not only was the river muddy and high, but the canal had very little flow due to some construction. This double whammy caused the parents to both leave the nest at times in search of food. Enough ‘fishless’ time went by that nearly everyone who watched the Eagle Cam, viewed it with high concern for the welfare of the eaglets. As it turned out, at the last hour, the parents were able to sustain their clutch. Talk about drama …. that visual of the youngest eaglet, named R-2 (for Richmond-2nd Eaglet) to hatch lying on its side on the base of the nest, nearly starved, when the Dad eagle flew in with a fish. Thinking the worst, to see that slight movement of R-2’s head in anticipation of a meal, was real emotional drama … wow.
Virginia, James, R-1 (first eaglet hatched) and R-2 are incredible to watch, but the best part of the Eagle Cam is the people on it. Chatters and moderators typing away with loads of great information and friendly talk. Everyone shares wonderful images, links, facts and videos along the way. My hat is off for the kindness of the moderators who bind us all on this journey together. The way they kept their hopes verbally up during the tensest moments of the visual journey. The incredible knowledge base they share about the lives and natural history of bald eagles. I have learned so much from them. Thank You, Richmond Eagle Cam moderators and the Center for Conservation Biology for something much needed in the Richmond area to bind so many to life along the James River. Long live the Richmond Eagle Cam (Virginia, James, R-1 and R-2 too!). -- Capt. Mike
The Photo's Story: No, this is not Virginia & James, but it's another of my favorite pair, Baba & Pops. Just don't have any images of the Eagle Cam pair, and I had to have an eagle photo, didn't I? -- Photo by Lynda Richardson
April 4, 2012. Dr. Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB), spoke one of the greatest quotes about the James River bald eagles, summing the efforts of many great organizations. To quote Dr. Watts ... "No other place on the continent illustrates the recovery of the bald eagle population from DDT lows better than the James River."
And now, after months of preparation and coordination, “The Bald Eagles of the James River Exhibition” is set to open this Friday. The traveling exhibit of bald eagle images by 15 photographers is sponsored by Discover the James and will initially open at:
Richmond Camera Gallery
April 6, 2012. 5-8pm
The Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) will receive $40 from each image sold. The CCB has been instrumental in the comeback of bald eagles on the James River. Everyone involved in this project believes it is vitally important to support the CCB and their conservation efforts. For more information on the CCB, click here. All Gallery Wrapped Images are available for sale, with a $295 price.
The opening is bound to be a good time, with lots of wonderful images of the James River's eagles. I hope you find time to make it. --Capt. Mike
The Photos Stories: Top Left: This is an image of the finest bald eagle on the James River, Bandit. This bird has been the star of the River for a few years now and she continues to dazzle. As her story is unfolds, it will soon be time to share her incredible history. --Photo by Bob Schamerhorn
Bottom Right: This is, I believe one of the oldest pairs of eagles in Jefferson's Reach. They have been there for as long as I can remember. Baba & Pops have had at least one chick the last few years. Their nest is easily seen on the Bald Eagle Tour, and it's always a pleasure to see how quickly their chicks grow. --Photo by Lynda Richardson
January 18, 2012. One of the best things about working on the river is truly the people I meet. I have met outstanding folks from all over the Commonwealth, and really, all over the U.S.A. What is easy to see is that there are scores of people who care deeply for the James River and preserving its heritage. Caring individuals from all parts, and folks from organizations like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The James River Association, the Center for Conservation & Biology at William & Mary, Friends of the James River Park and the list goes on ... assure that the future of the James River is looking good. To learn more about the organizations, click the names to link to their website.
Getting back to my favorite part of working the river ... the people ... that is what I love most. You never know when a guest who steps onto the Discovery Barge II will knock your socks off with something they say, or have done, or in this case photograph. Otis Sowell recently stepped onto my boat for his first Eagle Tour and I hope it won't be his last. In early January 2012, he took a series of images of the Duke ... Bandit's new mate. Something about them hit me deep, especially the one to the left. These images knocked my socks off, they are some of the most wonderful images of a bald eagle on the James River.
A little about Otis ... he is a native of Charlottesville and currently lives in Fluvanna County, VA. Fascinated with nature, and especially birds, Otis states, "My favorite bird is the American Robin because it signals the arrival of spring and warm weather." A story he shared was from his childhood. When he was five or six years old, Otis asked his dad how to catch a robin so he could keep it as a pet. His father said, "All you have to do is sprinkle salt on it's tail and it won't fly away." Otis tried to sprinkle salt on a robin's tail just about all day when he realized he was not fast enough and could not get close enough ... no matter how hard he tried. His father kept at him stating, "Keep trying son", who was probably getting the biggest kick out of his son and the robins that day.
In the 1970's when Otis lived in Houston, TX with his wife, Wanda, he began to get serious about photography. Returning to his hometown in Charlottesville in 1980, he began photographing weddings, groups and portraits. He found photographing nature was his true love, and began 'focusing' on all things wild, but 'discovered' wild bird photography gave him the most satisfaction. At the advice of a good friend, "Just use your imagination", Otis took his photography another step further and began exploring deeper and creating images that satisfied his soul. The three images you see in this blog satisfy my soul. Thank you Otis!
To see more of Otis Sowell's work, go to www.OtisSowellPhotography.com
To see his series of Eagle images, click here.
The Photo's Story: Above Left, Middle Right, and Bottom Left: These images are wonderful. They are of an eagle that took the place of another bird in Bandit's life. The Duke became Bandit's new mate at some point in September of 2011. After Hurricane Irene took out the third of Bandit & Smokey's nest something happened and this bird worked it's way into the lives of Bandit & Smokey. Eventually Bandit chose the Duke over Smokey. The last time I saw Smokey was after a magnificent aerial chase and talon locking session between the two former mates ... then Bandit flew downriver towards the 295 Bridge, into the Eastern sunrise. -- All Photos by Otis Sowell
January 1, 2012. Today is the beginning of the New Year, 2012. I have to say a long morning on the James River, watching bald eagles is a pretty good start. One thing comes to mind after today’s journey on the river. The sheer difference in numbers of eagles this year versus last year in Jefferson’s Reach.
Here is an example of the difference …
Above, Left: Just after Virginia captured that fish, above, an immature bird flew into the area. It would be easy to say it was just a migratory bird, and it may have been. But the way the two mature eagles were acting (Virginia & James), this immature bird could have been one of their chicks from three years ago. Looking at this immature bird, you can see how the head seems to be starting to lighten up as the body is darkening, which is indicative of a bird in the three year, perhaps four year range. Bald Eagles take four to five years to become fully mature with the white head & tail, with dark brown body and wings. --Photo by Lynda Richardson