Discover The James Blog Entry 1 - December 19, 2010

December 19, 2010

There are many things magical about the James River.  With the diverse interest's people have today, the James has something for everyone ... boating, swimming, hiking, fishing or just hanging out on the banks to name a few. For me it's a combination of fishing, nature, history and the people who love it.  When on the river, especially at sunrise, I believe that time offers the most clarity and the dreams and visions of your life you get have the greatest chance of fruition. It's then that I have a desire to write and make art that reflects the deep wonderful sense of calm and inner peach I feel from the surrounding views. Each one of us has the ability to go deep and pull on our own deep thoughts and experiences to reach that sense of deep peace and perhaps that's my place in this world, taking people out to achieve and find those places in the mind.

Becoming a working guide on the river was a dream and I assumed it would always revolve around fishing. But now another dream is forming, and it's spending time with eagles, observing them in their natural habitat, and sharing that time with people who want to also be out there. I'd like to add to this dream, and that's to keep a journal of observations, notes, thoughts and photos of the James to share with others. But also, to have a way to look back, and compare observations from year to year, and to continue learning about eagles and whatever else comes along in the future.

I started watching the local bald eagles a little over a year ago, and from these observations of resident bald eagles in their natural habitat I have learned that resident bald eagles are extremely territorial, and will defend their territory with any level of aggressiveness needed. It may be a simple warning call if an intruder is getting too close to the nest, or it may elevate to an aggressive flight pattern and chase another eagle out of its territory. Or, at the height of aggressiveness, the resident eagle could collide with the intruder, clenching talons into talons and the eagles spin in circles downward towards the river or ground.

The extreme cold weather we've been having has pushed a high number of the winter migratory eagles onto the tidal James River area.  This winter population of migratory eagles fly south, coming in from as far as northeastern Canada.  With the influx of eagles, the resident eagles have seemed to back off a bit on the defending their territory. There are so many, perhaps they become temporarily accepting of them due to the fact that there is such a high number of birds and it becomes to many eagles to chase/defend.  It is interesting to see this happening now in at least two territories. The main channel has been flooded with many migratory eagles, at times there are ten extra eagles flying in one territory.  

The recent cold snap had dropped the river's water temperature dramatically and ice has formed in many areas.  The last few days of sunny weather has broken up much of the ice and lots of ice chunks are flowing in the river now. 

-- Capt. Mike 12/19/10

The photo's story?  My wife and photographer extraordinaire, Lynda Richardson, took this photo.  It is the newest image added to my website. It's an image of Baba, who lives high in a pine tree on a nest near Deep Bottom Boat Landing.  Baba & Pops are resident birds and were the first eagles to be named on the river. A great friend and his family were on the Discovery Barge II recently and his two sons were on the bow, looking at the eagles on their nest. I asked them if they'd like to name them, and after a couple of moments the youngest, Jon Michael (8 years old) said, "I wanna name the one on the branch next to the nest "Pops". "Wow" I thought, "That was my grandfather's name". So, obviously, we had to name his mate after my grandmother, "Baba" (means grandmother in Yugoslavian) 

-- Photo by Lynda Richardson