The Future of the James Looks Bright


May 22, 2012. Another spring season on the river, gone. And the upcoming summer season, just around the corner. For this river guide, the month of May becomes a good time to take a breath, reflect on the spring and prepare for the sunny, hot summer. As I think about the 2012 year thus far, I can’t help but think the future is looking bright for the James River.
Why do I think this? An exciting new opportunity is coming to the upper, tidal James. The James River Association has purchased a new 40’ pontoon boat and it is coming to the area very soon. With a 35-passenger capacity, this vessel is going to offer larger groups a chance to come out and experience the incomparable James River. This opportunity (and boat) is huge!  
Another exciting addition to the James this spring has been the new Richmond Eagle Cam, enlightening people around the world to the story of the bald eagle on the James River. The Eagle Cam is focused on two mature, resident bald eagles, named Virginia & James, who have called the City of Richmond home for more than ten years. Virginia laid two eggs in the nest, the first on Feb. 8 and the second on Feb. 11. Together, they share the responsibilities of eagle parenthood.

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