The following entries are from the Eagle Journal Teresa has been keeping since she and Michael started their research five years ago at Jim Habasco's farm in Charlevoix County in Northern Michigan. Their first season they spent December through March in a roughly constructed "eagle blind". It was a 6' x 4' wooden structure with no insulation and little peepholes with plexiglass covers for shooting out of. They had a port-a-pot and a five gallon bucket to sit on and a little "buddy" heater to help stave off the cold Northern Michigan winter. That did not deter them from going every chance they could that winter. It paid off in aces as they say (see photos of Ripper on the Eagle page).
The following year they had moved on up to the big times with a 1955 travel trailer that Michael was in the process of remodeling to become their summer home/studio in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It did at least have some insulation and a little bed for one of them to lay down on when boredom over took them. And they had real windows! And best of all room to move around in. That was not a stellar year for the weather and the timing. They weren't able to get out as often as they would have like to. But alas there is always another year.
They were actually able to get the now fully remodeled travel trailer positioned before deer hunting season began in November. So they spent many a day, sometimes even back to back days out enjoying the beauty of Nature at its finest. You will find a few excerpts from last year's journal along with a few of Teresa's favorite photos. Note that these days are not always the norm. Teresa spends many ot this days updating her journal and this website with maybe only an occasional glimpse of an eagle or a hawk of some kind.
We discovered Jim and Ďhisí eagles over five years ago. Wewere out for a Sunday Ďexplorationí drive when we ran across a field of deer carcasses. On further study we discovered eagles in the trees. We visited the area several more times that winter. On one of those visits we met Jim and the rest as they say is history.
Eagle Journal March 14, 2010
Spring Ahead time so it is 7:30 and 43 degrees. It is going to be overcast and gloomy.
The first raven is calling right on time. A hawk is in the maple. The raven scout flies by then went into the tree with the hawk. It took off soaring to the west. It was a rough-legged hawk.
I donít have to worry about reflections off the snow today. There is no snow. The ravens are on the ground but farther out.
8:00 the rough-leg is back into the trees. The ravens take off tattling to the eagles.
There is a raven on the pile at 8:15. The 2nd rough-leg came into the trees to the west.
Wow, a coyote is coming across the field from the west. The ravens arenít even afraid of it. It is acting very strange. It stops then weaves in other direction. It does this for over a half an hour. It makes its way to the northeast and eventually disappears. When we watched the footage at home it appeared that the coyote would almost fall over when standing still.
Seagulls are in at 9:05 but didnít stay long. And the rough-legged hawk left at some point while we were watching the coyote.
There are ten ravens on the ground back by the tree line at 9:15 but everything is being very quiet. Ok the seagulls are back and there is a raven on the roof. Hopefully we will have some action now. Nope, no such luck.
The ravens chased off the rough-legged hawk again. Then we had a flock of starlings on the roof. 10:00 and everything is gone. So it is time to take a snooze.
We had a few other views of the rough-leg but they never came into the pile or even stayed in the trees that long. We even had a red-tailed hawk that wanted to come into the pile but the crows wouldnít let it alone.
We had up to forty crows and ravens in at one time but Ö. Nothing! We never even caught a glimpse of an eagle until we were on our way home. Just as we got on to U.S. 131 we spotted a mature eagle in a dead tree to the east. I got a couple of shots off. It was banded. I am sure it is one that we had in earlier in the year. Sweet. We finally decided to call it quits. It is the end of another season. We will miss our early morning treks across Jimís field but there will always be next season. We will be off to the U.P. in April to do the Sharp-tail Grouse count at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Eagle Journal March 7, 2010
Got out to the blind at 6:00 just as the sun was starting to rise. It is 23 degrees with a half moon shining. It is going to be a beautiful day. 6:45 the ravens are already carrying on. 7:00 an immature comes in from the east, one from the south and another from the swamp. Then a mature comes in from the east to the trees.
There are now eight plus ravens on the ground carrying on. They are so comical. We are always entertained just watching them.
Two of the immature move to the trees closer to us. The mature is chattering at them wanting them to go check out the pile. Then the ravens all moved back closer to the tree line. Why?
The sun is rising beautifully!! Hope something comes in besides seagulls and ravens.
Two immature finally fly down to the ground around 8:00. Yeah!! The mature chatters at them again.
They were picking up dead grass and playing with it. One attacked the other, then hopped up on a stump.
Then the other one pushed the one off the stump. They finally both flew up into the same tree.
The ravens are back to the pile at 8:30 followed the seagulls ten minutes later. Up to twenty ravens are out having a good time. The 1st year flew to the perching tree while the mature chattered at it.
Oh no a raven just took off with something. Of course, the two immature and the mature took off after it at 9:45. It was just a lump of snow with probably a bone in it. The ravens love to play with the bones. Thatís why we call them bone-pickers.
There is a rough-legged hawk soaring high overhead.
One of the immature flew closer to the pile and landed on the ground out farther. The other 1st year flew down then took off again. The first one picked up piece of stiff hide and started pulling on it. A raven decided to harass the eagle by sneaking up on it and pulling its tail feathers. The eagle swings around but doesnít do a thing to the raven. Then two other ravens join in on the fun. They had the poor eagle going in circles. Michael captured it all on video. We laughed our heads off over it later when we watched the footage. At one point one of the ravens even took the piece from the eagle but decided to finally give it back to it. It is amazing how the ravens tempt ďfateĒ otherwise known as the eagles. The one that took the piece had its head right down near those extremely sharp talons. Guts!
My 1st year came in after a piece of meat but I didnít get flight shots that I wanted.
Then it took off to the north. Bummer!!
The rough-legged hawk is being chased into the swamp by the ravens. Another rough-legged flew over and spooked the seagulls. We are always amazed how the ravens have the audacity to harass and chase these birds of prey. NO FEAR!!
At 11:15 all three immature are in the trees along with the mature. One of the 1st years flew in near the pile.
The other flew back into the swamp. They are playing musical trees. Whatever.
Jim brought out a meat ball before 12:00. Shortly after the seagulls were back to the pile. One of rough-legged hawks is in the trees. But he got forced to the east. Another rough-legged flew back to the trees while the other flew over the swamp to the west. Then suddenly the one rough-legged flew over and grabbed a piece of meat and took it back to the trees. We knew if we were going to get any footage of these hawks it would be while the eagles were out of sight.
Then the male rough-legged came in and ate a good portion of meat while on the ground. Michael & I were able to capture some footage of it before it took off. Yeah!! (because the eagles returned).
So by 12:30 the two 1st years and one mature came back to the trees.
The sun is shining on the1st year perched on the perching tree. It looks just like a big fat robin with its peach colored breast feathers.
There are now sixty seagulls and a few ravens on the ground. Oh my gosh the rough-legged just left but he did a fly-by at the mature eagle and made it flinch. The mature moved over to the tree with the immature.
Yip, yip, yip, meow, meow, meow, baa, baa, baa, the many sounds of the mimicking seagulls. It sounds like a barnyard out there. A big raven sauntered in and took a piece of meat from a seagulls.
I close my eyes for less than one minute(since 6:45am) everything flew. Rough legged circled from the east. Everything flew again. The mature went behind us after the rough-legged ended up in a cedar to the east.
Mature and two immature soaring around with the ravens to the west at 2:00. A rough-legged is over the swamp. It has been a very active day!!
Seagulls up and down. I know something is out there. Yep! There is a rough-legged in the tree to the north. Ok up and down again. A male rough-legged from the south to the trees. You can usually tell when something is moving around just by the seagulls reactions. Sometimes though they spook each other to change the pecking order.
2:15-2:30 mature two immature and two rough-legged hawks in the trees playing musical trees again. Rough-legged booted out the mature eagle and vice versa.
2:45 a different mature into the perching tree where the other mature was sitting and chattering. Another mature flew to knock off an immature. Once again musical trees then poof-all headed west.
The rough-legged thought they might be able to come in for a treat but no luck back came a mature and immature. The seagulls had managed to scattered the quickly thawing meatball Jim had brought out.
Well the mature spotted a piece that looked tantalizing. So before we could even focus she tried twice to get it but to no avail.
3:45 seagull are gulping large hunks of tallow. They start playing tug of war. One got it and flew but dropped it. An immature flew over and back but then a mature out of nowhere came and snatched it up . It flew south with the immature on its tail. NO SHOTS!!!
The rough-legged is still in the maple so there is some hope. A seagull has a piece but gulped it down before the mature and immature came back over the pile. Then a raven dropped a piece to the west. The mature got it and headed west. The immature came back to the trees.
Now there are two rough-legged hawks in the maple. One left and headed west. The immature moved to a different tree. The mature now to the west in a tree. It finally flew off and headed south with the immature following.
4:45 a mature to the east dropped into the swamp. 5:20 an immature came out of the swamp to the perching tree. The mature from the south back to the trees. The rough-legged still in the maple.
5:40 the last seagull left, we thought. The immature still in the perching tree and the rough-legged in the maple. We finally called it quits with the immature still sitting on the perching tree.
I have spent eleven hours watching these birds with only fifteen -twenty minutes to shut my eyes. Along with the bright sunlight needless to say my eyes are burning. But who cares, I wouldnít miss this for the world. Just being able to be out with nature up close and personal. Sweet!!
Eagle Journal February 28, 2010
Thirty degrees with the ravens calling at 7:30. We were surprised by a Red-tailed hawk on the carcass. It enjoyed its breakfast for about twenty minutes. Shortly afterwards a 2nd year flew into the trees. And at 8:00 a mature came in chattering all the way. Ten minutes later another 2nd year flew into the trees.
9:00 eleven ravens are congregated to the northeast to the pile while the mature and one of the 2nd years look on.
By 9:30 we have a seagull on the roof of the trailer-squawking.
The 2nd year flew off around 9:45 but another mature came in though.
One seagull on the carcass at 10:00 but took off after five minutes back on the roof by 10:15.
11:00 quiet took a snooze. The two matures are still in the trees but just sitting.
Even the seagull on the roof is quiet. The ravens are in and out of the swamp but definitely quieter than normally. There is a rough-legged hawk soaring to the northwest.
One of the matures took off to the northeast. One of the 2nd years was just behind the tree line and took off after the mature. Two rough-legged hawks are soaring to the north.
The seagull was down for a few minutes calling for others to come but no answer.
The one mature is still on the perching tree after four hours. It finally flew off after 1:30 to the west.
Shortly after the eagle left a rough-legged hawk came in on the carcass. But unfortunately one of the matures came back to sit on the perching tree which caused the rough-legged to immediately leave.
OK, the eagles know full well that the poor hawks wonít eat while they are around. The eagles main goal in life is to guard their area (foot supply) even if they arenít hungry. Yet they allow the seagulls and ravens to feed (to a point). We think of them as big bullies yet they allow the ravens to harass and chase them. Playing games? I wonder.
OK the mature is still sitting on the perching tree. The rough-legged flew over around 3:00.
I added a bunch of photos to my wildlife page on our website.
Everything is in the doldrums! Hurry up spring!
3:45 a mature flew over the pile to the east and then back to the trees. Whatever!! I am ready to call it quits.
February 21,2010 It is 25 degrees with a north, northwest wind. At 7:30 there is a rough-legged hawk in a tree. There are ravens in a tree. Seven ravens took off, one flew over the area to scout, the others flew into another tree. 8:30 six to eight ravens to the east of us on the ground. They are messing around pulling a bare bone around. Quite comical.
Heard an eagle chattering. There is a mature in a tree to the west. A second mature showed up around 9:00in the same tree.
9:30 a rough-legged hawk in on the carcass. By the time we get ready to shoot it, a mature comes in to chase itoff. The eagle sits for a few minutes then back to the trees. Thanks for nothing!
A couple of seagulls showed up at 10:00 but didn’t hang around. I spotted a dark morph rough-leg circling but it just kept heading east.Hope this isn’t a repeat of the last two outings.
The eagles continue to just sit while the ravens have disappeared. Wow, this is pathetic.
Ok the ravens are back along with a couple of seagulls. But…? The mature took off after a red-tail hawk. Then the other mature took off at 11:30.
I think as it approaches the mating season our eagles are going back to their territories. They are re-staking their claim, preparing and reinforcing their nest. First time mating eagles are searching for partners.
Also waters haven’t thoroughly frozen over due to the mild temperatures.
So it could be a multitude of these factors. Who knows, that’s why we are journaling as we go.
A rough-legged hawk flew into the tree that the Red-tail hawk had come back to and forced him to go to the swamp.
At 12:30 a mature came back and knocked the rough-leg off. The red-tail is back in a tree but the rough-leg knocked off again. They both took off. What a pain, I was at least hoping for some hawk shots.
The ravens and seagulls are briefly on the pile. A raven and one of the dark seagulls are fighting over some meat. Bam! Smudgie is the mature eagle we have right now. She just forced the rough-leg off its tree and it flew off to the east.
1:00 the rough-leg is back flying low to the west. The snow is picking up. The raven are getting hyper and flew to the swamp squawking. Three ravens and some seagull are back within ten minutes as the wind picks up.
By 1:30 the ravens were getting aggressive flying into the pile. Then swoosh came Smudgie into the pile to grab the piece of meat the raven & dark seagull had been fighting over. First she tried to carry it off but it was too cumbersome. Finally after her third attempt she succeeded to get back to a low tree with it with five ravens escorting her all the way. Sweet!! Michael and I were able to get some great footage and shots!
I think it really does make a difference if the seagull are here or not. More competition, loud squawking announcing the feeding frenzy.
Smudgie came in again but didn’t hang around or even take anything. When she flew back to the trees a second year flew into the same tree. Sweet! Maybe we will get some more action.
Today the seagulls squawking is music to my ears, no matter what Michael thinks. I know they are irritating the eagles and they will fly when the eagles are flying.
Darn ravens are hassling the second year. One is swinging from its beak on a branch right by the young eagle. Whatever! Doesn’t it realize that the eagle could take it out in one swipe?
Wow everything took off. The ravens were really carrying on. Come to find out they were chasing a poor hawk into the swamp. They are really brazen creatures. 2:30 the second year wanted to participate in chasing the hawk but thought better of it.
There is a raven to the east of us with a snowball in its mouth being chased by ten other ravens. Then the second year got in on the chase. The raven dropped the snowball at the edge of the trees. The second year dropped down to find it only to find that it was nothing. Smudgie is chattering at it as if to say ‘what are you thinking’.
I took a break and when I looked Smudgie had moved farther west and the second year popped up later nearby. Smudgie finally took off soaring farther and farther northwest. A few minutes later the second year took off, too.
At 3:30 I laid my head down for a few minutes. When I heard the starlings take off I looked out and there was a rough-leg to the west of the pile. It flew closer then took off with me getting one shot and Michael couldn’t even get his camera on quick enough.
We hear the ravens coming back making a lot of noise. They are probably hassling a hawk again. We decide by 4:30 that nothing else was really probably going to happen. It was getting darker and snowier so we called it quits for the day. But we were very happy with what we were able to capture today. There is hope for the next time. We are happy just getting footage of the hawks. It is really the main way we can capture good footage.
February 7, 2010
7:30 there are two mature eagles sitting in the trees chattering. It is a brisk 13 degrees below zero. We had issues with our buddy heater, of course, on one of the coldest mornings. So just bundled up with blankets and waited for the sun to warm up the blind.
By 9:30 there is NOTHING!!!! Finally at 11:00 a mature eagle is back in a tree in front of us.Then an immature show up in another tree. The mature went over and knocked the immature off. It proceeded to fly west without a backwards glance.
There are a few ravens on the ground messing around. They are so entertaining to watch. Thatís what inspired me to write my childrenís book.
There finally a seagull flying around but doesnít want to come into the pile. By 12:00 we still have one mature in the trees and a different immature in another tree.
We have two hawks flying over the swamp but they are being hassled by a flock of ravens. They chase them off to the east and out of our sight.
A hawk shows up in one of the trees along with some ravens.Three raven take off heading west with the mature eagle chasing them. It then comes back to the trees to sit, again. Itís 12:30.
There are now two eagles and a hawk soaring around. No, make that three mature eagles flying around.
ThenÖ.nothing, they are all gone. Itís a beautiful day butÖ.nothing.
2:00 twenty-seven degrees and something is on our roof. It is a seagull. He flies off to land on the carcass and thenÖnothing. What is up with that??
2:45 there is a tree full of ravens and starlings. Some ravens come down to the carcass. One raven had a piece of meat and buried it. When other ravens came in, he unburied and ate it. How comical.
Not much activity but once again a beautiful day for enjoying nature.
February 1, 2010
Itís 16 degrees, at 7:40. The first raven in at 9:00 near the pile.. The sun is shining and clear. The first seagull in at 10:20. Itís 24 degrees and getting windy from the north, northwest.
When Michael came out on Friday there was no meat. So he put a road kill and some butcher scraps. By SaturdayJim said there was one eagle and one hawk. Sunday there was only 5-8 ravens and seagulls. Today not much happeningL.
Starlings in at 12:30 with seagulls flying around 1:30. We saw hawks flying over the swamps.
It is a beautiful picturesque day but sadly no eagles except one soaring high in the sky to the north.
But I was getting a lot of writing done. I am fine tuning my childrenís book. Also getting my Pictured Rocks/Lighthouse page done for our website.
It wonderful to be able to be out in nature to get inspired to write about nature. So even though we didnít capture any footage, we captured a feeling.
January 17, 2010
It is 22 degrees we take a quick 30 minute snooze and then get our windows opened as quietly as possible. Michael discovered that if he opened the window before daylight it seemed to eliminate wariness of the birds.
7:55 we hear the ravens arriving. There is luckily no Ďsentryí in the trees. The first eagle was in at 8:00. It is an immature. A second immature comes into the trees a few minutes later. The two chase a raven with something in its mouth. The all of a sudden there are four eagles!
The first seagull was in at 8:50. Whoa! An immature flew low right between the trailer and the carrion pile.
A raven came into get a piece of meat.A mature is chattering but took off as another mature does a fly-by at 9:30.
The mature is Miss Smudgy who is chattering. She does a fly by and grabs a piece of meat. A juvenile takes off after her. One of the second year(whitely) is in a tree chattering.
A juvenile, Little Rosie, comes back and gets a piece of meat. Then a mature and immature take off after her. One of the Whiteys lands out on the ground and stays there till 10:15. Another mature is in on the ground in front of us. Two immature are on the ground back further. One gets a piece and Miss Smudgy is back for more, too.
It is a very busy morning with eagles changing positions and doing fly-bys.It is only 10:50! Another immature that didnít get a piece early came into get something.
All of a sudden a gunshot went off nearby.That spooked everything for a while.
A third year came in from the north to the trees with two matures. It is now 32 degrees.
The ravens are in Big Time at noon! At 12:30 a mature flies in behind us.Then Smudgy comes back to get another piece with two immature taking off after her. By 1:00 she does a fly-by chattering all the way.
A third year was in but too skitterish to stay long. For some reason the third year eagles are the worst for being nervous and too cautious. They are the hardest to get good shots or footage of. So we are always happy whenwe can manage a quick shot of one.
We have five eagles in one tree right now three mature and two immature. Then all of a sudden we have two mature on the ground and one second year.The mature get a piece that the immature tried to get.
2:00 one of the whiteys is in to get something. She did manage to eventually get a piece after dropping it. Then all heck broke loose. The third year an a mature tangled in midair to the west of us . Five immature are swarming and chattering all around us. Never a dull moment.
hen Önothing Ö until Whitey and a mature take off then two more mature fly. There is a lot of action in and out of the area.
One of the juvenile is on the ground back by the trees. A mature then second year then a third year and another third year are all on the ground butÖ. None smart enough to come in to the pile though.
The second yearwas on the ground for over 45 minutes. Oh my aching arms!! Do you know how hard it is to stay focused on one object for that long holding a four pound camera and lens??Needless to say I will feel it tomorrow. This took place before 4:30.
5:00 the second year is back on the ground. She almost goes for the meat but thenÖno. A mature and another second year do a fly-by. There is still three mature in the trees and a juvenile.
Basically, no more action just eagles sitting in the trees waiting for someone else to do something. Eventually, they all finally left after 5:30.
But it definitely was a full day of fun and action!!! I think Michael is right we have to really stay back away from the windows as much as possible, keeping movements and noise to a minimal. It is very hard for me, but I will try!
January 10, 2010
It is a cold clear morning at 18 degrees.There is a mature in the trees when we get up to open the windows. We wonder if it roosted there all night. Another mature is flying around along with an immature at 8:30.
At 9:15 a mature circled around and got something. We have two immature and the one mature flying in and out but not landing.There are lots of ravens around too.
At 10:45 another mature flies in from the northeast. 11:10 we have a raven with a piece of something that gets chased by two immature and two mature.
We now have three matures and a juvenile at 11:30. Sweet. A full mature female came into the pile at 12:20. The other matures and immature are flying around. They leave the area for awhile then reappear. Interesting.
At 1:35 it is windy and 28 degrees. We have had five different matures and five different immature throughout the day.
At 3:00 a mature is in forpiece of meat that the juvenile wanted. A banded mature is the one that gets the meat. The juvenile is left guarding the pile. There is a second year(whitey), two mature and the juvenile. The juvenile tries to fly off with a piece but to no avail.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. The eagles did not appear to be very hungry. Oh well, another day.
December 27, 2009
Being that it is the Holiday I had to work so Michael decide to give it a try on his own. He decided not to sleep but to open up the window before daylight. He wanted to see how it would affect the birds coming into the pile. He was serenaded by ravens first thing in the morning. They covered the ground in a black blanket. Seven eagles watched as the ravens fed and fought with each other. Soon a second year beautiful female landed on the ground to the north of the pile. She cautiously walked into the meat area where ravens proceeded to taunt her. She got so close to the trailer that it was hard for Michael to pull back his focus. Sweet!!! The second years are one of the most beautiful stages of the eagle. Their chest feathers are mostly white with speckling of brown. They also have a very distinct striping of brown over their eyes.
The second year got spooked by something. She stopped eating and moved back behind the pile. It could be the onslaught of seagulls coming into share the meat.She suddenly took off back to the trees. Then she suddenly came back to chase off a younger eagle that wanted to get a piece of the action.
We are always amazed at how the other birds, ravens, seagulls and even the little starlings donít seem to really fear the strong talons and beak. Even when a raven yanked on the third years tail feathers it only turned around as if to say Ďstopí but not with too much force. The other young eagle came back to the north who got surrounded and forced to leave by the ravens.
Then a full mature came to the west of the pile, Mudhen, who it them approached by a five year old female we will call Smudge(because of the dark smudges around her eyes. Mudhen proceed into the pile. All of a suddena lot of chattering started. The second year came back in only to be flipped & attacked by Smudge. Then a first year flew in behind them. AWESOME!!! So we have four eagles on the ground within Michaelís range of vision. Mudhen got pushed off a carcass by the second year. Smudge is chattered. The second yearknocks Mudhen off the meat ball as Smudge comes into the carcass. Then a third mature comes in this one is a four year old male with still a lot of black on its beak and head.The juvenile comes to the back of the pile while Mudhen is to the front of the pile.
Michael now has five eagles in his screen. This is better then being in Alaska!! All are within fifteen feet of the blind They are all trying to eat off the same meat pile. A sixth eagle come into the area. Itís another second year. So we have a juvenile, two second year, a fourth year, a fifth year and a sixth year(MudHen). All of a sudden they started to fight. Smudge goes back and attacks the juvenile chasing it off. Then she flewto the side she comes back to attack the second year that is on meatball. The juvenile came back the second year takes off over the blind where it hits its wings. Sweet!! The three matures just stand staring at each other then Smudge attacks the fourth year but it doesnít budge. Immediately after comes the juvenile to attack the fourth year. Then she comes back and knocks them both off the meat.
The other second year stays way off in the distance as fourth year starts eating on the meatball with Mudhen behind her. Smudge comes back to knock Mudhen off the carcass he had started to feed on. She is a very pushy broad. Mudhen flies up to where the fourth year is and the second year is still off in the distance. And Smudge continues to feed on the carcass.All the time the ravens keep bouncing in and out of the area.
Oh my Gosh!!!! This is so awesome. Michael couldnít keep track of who was where and when and how.
I am writing this as we watch his spectacular footage.
From the west come the first second year back to hit Mudhen . Then Smudge goes after the second year. We arenít sure just what happened to them. The fourth year starts eating on the meatball. And Miss Smudge came back to the carcass after chasing off the others.The fourth year left the meatball. Mudhen came up to it but flew back when Smudge came popping back into the picture. So all three matures are still in the frame.
They take a few minutes to eat. The fourth year enjoyed the frozen meatball while Miss Smudge enjoys the carcass. Not sure what Mudhen was picking at. Then the poor fourth year got knocked off by Smudge. She dug right into the meatball ravenously. Mudhen proceed to eat on the carcass. The fourth year knocked him off the carcass as the second year finally moved up from behind. A raven decides to harass the second year.
The fourth year moves off the carcass as Smudge continues to eat on the meatball. Mudhen is off to the side as the first year swoops in trying to knock the second year off the carcass. So w have a first year, a second year, a fourth year, a fifth year and a sixth year. Sweet!!! The third years seem to be more elusive unfortunately.
The fourthyear flies back behind the second year as another first year comes into the pile from the east where the first juvenile and Mudhen are with Smudge still on the meatball!!! Wow I am tired and I wasnít even there.
The six played musical meatballs. Oh my gosh,Michael canít believe it. Here he is en Northern Michigan.
The one juvenile flew into the other juvenile which knocked Smudge off the pile but not for long. The raven started to carry on which caused the eagles to be on alert. Smudge flew off the meatball put not to far. She is the only remaining eagle in sight(for now).But you can hear the chattering of the others as they go back to the trees .Then Smudge took off, too.
One of the second years comes back but not for long. It takes off as the fourth year lands on the ground behind it. The fourth year sits and sits and sits. It finally she comes in a little closer. A ravens harass it but it chatters at it. Everything takes off as the eagle sits and looks all around. But it was a false alarm the seagulls and ravens all converge back to the pile.
Later a juvenile comes in but takes off as a mature lands behind it. Then as Michael pans back a second year is in the same place as the juvie was. The mature took off behind the blind. We think they actually go back to check out to make sure nothing is around.The second year stays around then flies into the pile where a juvenile is actually eating but does not budge off. This is the juvenile that is banded on the right leg meaning it is a Lower Peninsula bird. The second year is still off to the side where it found a piece of meat that a seagull had drug off. This second year is a male. We seem to have more females than males which is in keeping with the research teams info.
Now we have Mudhenin the picture with another mature out farther. All of a sudden the second year knocked the juvenile off the meatball and Mudhen movedoff.The second year chattered as it took position on the meatball while Mudhen and the distant mature we will call Goldie for her beautiful golden beak. Thenyet another fifth year shows up. This one has a spot on its head.
The matures seem to be sentries for the young as they feed.The ravens started pulling the juveniles tail more than once but it didnít care it was too busy eating. A raven pulled off a piece of meat in front of the eagles. It made a noise as if to say Ďlook at meí and flew offÖ.with all of the eagles chasing after him. We know it is a game that these ravens love to play.
Out of nowhere another mature was on the ground and then gone.A juvenile was on the pile then a second year chases it off. The second year male feeds on the meatball for sometime. The banded female juvenile ends up back on the pile but keeps its distance from the second year. Even though the juvenile wasnít bothering the second year still shooed it off the pile but it didnít go far. The ravens had a little fun with it.
The second year got nervous and finally flew off so the banded juvenile came up to the meatball. The fourth year comes back down to the ground. A second year spooks the juvenile but he comes back to the meatball as the second year and fourth year look on from a distance. This is a different second year then the previous two. This one is really white. Well the ravens needed a little more entertainment so they decided to pick on this male second year. It got tired of them and moved out.
Thenin comes a different juvenile, a female. It decides to walk up to the carcass.It then proceed up to the meatball which it attacked with a vengeance. A darker second year came near but didnít do much but chatter. The fourth year is still sitting where it was. A third year flew in behind it and was attacked by a raven. Whatever! Michael finally has a first year, second year, third year and a fourth year. Sweet!!
The second year started chattering and chased the juvenile off the meat ball where it proceed to fee. The third year female and the fourth year female maintained their distance. Then the mature female with the spot on it head shows back up.
The third year walked away looking like an old man to investigate some old bones. It is so funny to see how such a regal bird can looks soridiculous.
Ok, another mature enters the picture where it proceeds to attack the fourth year old and the spotted head mature female comes in to get involved as the third year looks on. The second year disappeared and left the third year and fourth year together. Michael got some sweet footage of the two almost side by side. Finally the fourth year flew straight at the camera. Sweet. Then Heady(the one with a spot on her head) came in and attacked the third year.
A second and fourth year landed on the ground for just a short time. Heady walked and sat and walked and sat for sometime before it finally got a small piece of meat. She chattered and chattered off and on the whole time. As she comes closer we realize that she has had some damaged to one of her eyes.As soon as she gets the meat she is off.
And so that ends Michaelís most spectacularday every!!!! Even though I couldn't be there to share it, I was able to view all of the great footage he captured and therefore write this journal.
December 20, 2009
Well, we didnít get back out as soon as we had hoped.It is 24 degrees and overcast. At 8:20 there are twenty plus seagulls and a few ravens. A mature eagle flies in from the east at 8:50.
There are five ravens chasing another one with a piece of snow in itís mouth.A juvenile goes after the raven who decided to drop it. The juvenile went to get it but the raven grabbed it back up and took off.
Another mature from the north went into the maple tree at 9:00. So we have three young and two matureeagles. One of the young is a second year with a lot of white on itís chest. They are so beautiful. It is so interesting to see the various stages of plumage each eagle is in. Eagles do not molt all at one time put a few feathers at a time. Otherwise they would be defenseless against any predators.
The seagulls all fly off but circle and circle then land off the pile. They are very quiet. Then we discover the reason, one of the matures we lost track of landed in a tree with three other eagles. Another mature comes from the north to the maple tree. And yet another shows up on the perching tree. So we now have four mature and four immature. The two mature from the north are together in the maple tree. The other eagles are playing musical trees with each other. It is 9:40 so already a busy day. One of the maturefrom the maple tree took off and headed north. A juvenile eagle joins the other five in one tree. There is another eagle circling then headed southwest.
We have one mature and two immature behind us on the ground. The another immature joins them. We have one juvenile and two second year(whiteys).They donít actually fight and eventually end up flying back into the trees in front of us. This all takes place around 10:00-10:30. What a day already!
We have mature in at 11:00 scatters all the gulls and ravens. Two mature head to the north while an immature goes to the east. They are all still in range but continue to soar around. Then back at the trees, we have action with musical trees again.
Finally at 12:00 a juvenile land on the ground for a quick instant. Then a mature and a two year fought on the ground back toward the tree line. Great action too busy to keep track of what is happening all around us.Unfortunately it is so gloomy I not sure how good my shots will be. But once again it is just a privilege to be able to observe these magnificent creatures in the wild.
It is 30 degrees at 12:40 with five immature and two mature in the trees. A half an hour later another mature lands on the perching tree.
A rough leg is in the tall pine tree to the east. It then flew over to the maple tree behind us. At 1:30 everything flew! Eagles swooping everywhere . We have four immature and three mature. We lost one of the second years(whitey).Our juvenile is banded on itís left leg which means it is a Upper Peninsula eagle. OK, the other whitey is back. We have eight in our sight. Wow! They all flew again. One of the immature tried for a piece of meat in front of us. We werenít on it in time before they all flew back into the trees exceptthe two second years.By 2:00 we had lost a mature to the east a third year and a juvenile.
They have definitely kept us on our toes today.Something is moving all the time. The rough-leg hawk is back in the maple tree. Two second years, one juvenile and a mature took off and swooped behind us. One o the second year and a mature fought in mid air!! Sweet. They then headed across the road. A little later another mature headed across the road at 3:25.
At 4:30 the rough-leg flew onto the fence post. The one second year and a mature were still in the trees along with a juvenile. The mature try to get the juvenile to go after the rough-leg so she chased him off to the east. Interesting! The juvenile and the mature ended up in the big pine to the east. The rough-leg eventually headed into the swamp at 4:45. The sea gulls are leaving one by one.
A mature came back. There is still one second year to the east and a mature on the perching tree. One of the second years is on top of poplar tree and a second year in the east on near the big pine tree.
5:00 the juvenile pushed the mature off the perching tree and headed east. The mature sat on top of one of skinny pine trees to the east.
That was the day in a quick nutshell. Lots of great action. We had at least nine different eagles around most of the day. Sweet.
Sunday November 22, 2009 It is 28 degrees when we get to the blind. When we woke up at 8:00 we enveloped in fog. So we laid back down till 8:45 by the clunking of seagulls on the roof.
There is a rough-leg in the trees and an eagle in another. A couple of ravens are on the ground.There is an eagle in the big pine to the east.The two eagles are flying back and forth really looking over things.
10:00 the second year comes down on the ground. A few minutes later a third year flies over. I think I got a good shot or two. Yeah! I have been having such withdrawal from not shooting my camera. It is now 44 degrees and beautiful.
The rough-leg is in the maple tree. And eagle flew around a half an hour later. I decide to take a potty break and ,of course, that is when the second year decides to fly by. It is 10:50 and 50 degrees.
Thank you for such a beautiful day. It is such pleasure to be here enjoying natures wonders that it wouldnít matter if I didnít get any shots (but it doesnít hurt that I did).
The second year is soaring high above us keeping a Ďsafeí distance but checking out the situation.The third year joins in later.
The rough-leg is back hunting then flew back to the maple. It flies again them back to the maple. When it flew the next time the seagulls chase it back to the tree. This was at 12:45.
The rough- leg finally flew over and in front of us so I could snap a few shots off. It continued to fly to the north . It became quiet after 1:00 but once again it was so gorgeous out it didnít matter(50 degrees).
At 3:25 a mature came in for a quick second then that was it for the day. Hopefully, we can get back soon.
January 12, 2009
Well we are back out to the blind hoping to get a few shots off of the three year old we have named Bandit. But we got a surprise before we got to Jimís. Michael started to back up on Jimís road. I said ďwhat the heck are you doing?Ē He said he had to check something out that was in the road. Well low and behold it was a Barred Owl!!!!!!!!!!! He was dining on the remains of a bunny. Michael shone the truck lights on him and I was able to get a couple of descent shots with my flash up. So we decided it was already worth getting up at 4:30 in the morning twice in a row.
At least it is warmer today 22 degree. It helped that we warmed it up yesterday. So it didnít feel so damp. We were able to get a little better rest before ourCO detector started beeping at 7:40. That was ok because we really needed to get up and get ready for a ďgoodĒ day.
We opened the windows up just before the ravens started showing up. At 8:00 the 3rd year came to the perching tree- no make thatthe 2nd year. We are thinking that the 3rd year might be Whitey II from last year or the U.P. banded eagle. A mature came and knocked her off the perch so she went behind us in the trees. Then the 3rd year surrounded by ravens came in from the east to the big tree. The ravens are pulling her tail and being a real nuisance.
At 8:35 the seagulls start coming. By 8:45 they are on the pile. Then the ravens came into the pile, too.
Another immature is being hassled by the ravens flying from behind heading east. Then itcame into the trees.
Twenty plus ravens are congregating out in the field. They are playing with little pieces of meat.
My hanging raven is back. In fact I think there might be two of them doing the swinging thing. Funny!!
The 3rd year flew behind into the tree with the other immature . There is a mature across the road. The seagulls are really coming into the pile. A raven is playing with a piece of tallow.
The 3rd year is viewing everything from her perch at 9:00. The 3rd year and the mature are chattering. The mature went behind us. Then another 3rd year with a littlemore white on it flies into the trees. There are eagles flying around everywhere. We have at least four immature and two mature in the trees at 9:30. They are ready to fly at the seagulls if they get pieces of meat loose from the frozen mass.
All of a sudden an immature goes after a piece of meat. It gets it then is being chased by a mature and another immature. Then another immature goes back to where the first immature went with itís piece of meat.The mature and immature flew off to the northeast.
So we have four immature and one mature along with a lot of ravens entertaining us. The other mature comes back to the perching tree. Then we have two immature and three mature in our trees at 9:50.
A mature flew off and got a scrap out in the field. The 3rd year followed and went behind Jimís barn across the road. Then an immature flew over the trees behind us to the tree with the other. The 3rd year came back over and around behind the trailer to the trees.
A ravenis protectinga piece of meat. He screams at everyone that gets near him. He is so comical. Itís like he is daring anyone to try to get it.
The rough-leg and red-tail show up at 10:20. The 3rd year flew over then back to the tree. Darned ravens are hassling her so much I donít know if she will try to get a piece of meat or not. Then another immature flies over the pile then back to the trees. The 3rd year back over then back to the trees.At least we canít say weíre bored. Another immature goes back into the swamp with ten ravens chasing him. The rough-leg went east with two ravens hassling him all the way.
OK the immataure is back into the trees and the rough-leg went into a cedar tree straight east of us on the edge of the field. Then another immature comes out of the swamp and another one is in the trees from ? So now we have five immature and two mature in the trees at 10:35. Sweet!!!!!!
A mature came swooping down after a bone that a raven dropped. Then two of the immature chased him back to the trees at 10:40. A lot of work for nothing. It seems to be more of a game at times than actual hunger that drives them.
Before going back into the trees the 2nd year and then the 3rd year made a circle around the pile. The rough-leg in the cedar gets chased away by some ravens and headed east. I donít think he will get a chance at the pile today with all of the eagle action we have going on.
At 10:55 a raven flies off with a piece of meat and of course drops it. The mature tries to get it then the 3rd year tries but another raven gets it and flies off. The mature and the 3rd year both go back to the trees to await another chance at the treasure.
Then the seagulls got busy ripping and pulling more meat and tallow off of the frozen hunks that Jim threw out yesterday. A seagull gets a piece free then took off with it but no one chased it. Another seagull with a piece chased by the 3rd year but no luck. So back to the trees the 3rd year went chased by the ravens. The rough-leg is now in the maple. I guess he is still hopeful that he will get a chance at the meat.
11:30 the mature left and went across the road to where two other matures were. And we have no immature in our range of sight. Hopefully they will return soon.
The red-tail was in a tree with four ravens but got chased back into the swamp. The rough-leg is still in the maple.
Out of nowhere the 3rd year returned to the trees. The rough-leg male tried a couple of passes over the pile but the ravens were hassling him so bad he headed to a tree farther east of us.
12:00 the 3rd year along with another immature landed in a tree behind to the north of us. The rough-leg flew by again then went back to the cedar tree he was in earlier.
There are now sixty plus seagulls on the pile. The ravens are returning too . Our 3rd year is back in the perching tree with two ravens. She flew over to a mature who had landed in the field south of us. Then the 3rd year flew back to the perching tree and the mature came up closer to the trailer and pile at 12:35.
The mature came back to the big tree and another mature came from across the road to land in a big tree behind us to the north where an immature was perched.
A raven took off with a piece of meat. The immature and the mature went after him. They are flying and grabbing meat all over the place. Canít keep track of who got what or where. The 2nd year came and grabbed a big piece and went behind us in the trees? Two mature are on the ground. The 3rd year ended up gettinga big hunk of meat too. She took it to a small hemlock that had had itís top snapped off. Oh my gosh she truly is gorgeous. Her markings are so unique. Her undercarriage is mostly white but when she is sitting her upperwings are dark brown. The top and back of her head and neck are striped with lots of white. Natureís beauty at its finest!! We are so privileged to be able even catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures let alone photograph and film them.
One of the mature flew to the perching tree where another 3rd year was perched. The rough-leg is in the maple tree at 1:40.
At 2:00 we have four mature and two immature in our trees. Then our 3rd year ďBanditĒ and the 2nd yearďL.P.Ē (because she was banded in the Lower Peninsula- right leg) both just got another piece of meat. One mature is on the ground by the tree line another one is on the ground to the southeast of us. Then L.P. and Bandit went back to the trees with their trophies. Another immature got a piece but a mature went after her. There are two mature and two immature flying high and chasing each other with one raven also in pursuit.
L.P is back in the perching tree. She flies over to get another piece of meat but misses it . She landed in the field and just sat there for quite awhile before she headed back to the trees.
From 2:30 to 3:00 the action is so intense that there was no time to try and write down what was happening!!! Bandit, L.P. and another 2nd year scrambling to get a piece of meat. There is a mature on the ground to the south of us close to the trailer. I tried to get some shots of him but the angle was too severe to really get any clear shots.
The mature and Bandit back into the perching tree. Bandit had another big piece of meat. She almost dropped it but she dropped down to another branch in order to maintain her grip on the meat. Itís amazing how dexterous they are. We knew yesterday that she was really hungry and would be back in today.
3:20 the other 3rd year tried to get a piece of meat but dropped it and went back to the tree to the east with a mature following her. L.P. is in front of us in the field. The mature is still on the ground to the south of us.
There are eagles in the trees all around us!!L.P. lands in the field to the north of us but still within my vision. Then Bandit swoops down at her and lands in the field next to her. Then Bandit decides to come closer to the pile. I was able to shoot her for about ten minutes. Hope some the shots turn out. This is the one eagle I wanted desperately to shoot. She of course flew off just as I was checking my exposure so I didnít get a take-off shot. Hopefully another day.
We now have two immature and three mature in the trees by us and one mature across the road. All of a sudden there is a mature on the groundwho got a piece of meat. The mature in the perching tree followed. The one dropped it and the other got it. A mature came from the east to enter the action another immature from the east is on the ground.
I am not sure what all took place but I shot some of the best action shots I have ever been able to get. A big female mature eagle along with her small dark male were on the ground together when all of a sudden another male dropped down between them. The female attacked the male that dropped between her and her lover. He took off almost as quickly as he landed. Awesome!!!! Once again we are so privileged to be able to capture these magnificent creatures in action.
When all was said and done we have four mature and three immature. At 4:40the 3rd year flew back to the perching tree with a mature following her.
4:45 we now have six mature and three immature. At 4:55 the three immature left to the east as usual.One mature is in the perching tree, one mature in the maple, one on the ground, and one east in the big pine. We have thirty-five seagulls on the pile glomming away. The mature on the ground went back to the trees at 5:10.
Slowly one by one by two the eagles headed out to roost for the night. Thank you for giving us insight into your world and the opportunity to capture glimpses of it on film.
February 1, 2009 33 degrees at 5:30a.m.
It is a heat wave compared to what weíve had. Inside and outside the same temperature. It is clear and sunny with the ravens announcing that it is 8:00 time to get up. At 8:15 there is one seagull and then more. The temperature in the trailer is now 65 degrees a pleasant change from the last few weeks.
Ravens are doing side rolls in the wind (maybe my swinging one). The seagulls are even playing in the wind.
A couple of ravens into the pile at 8:35 then seagulls and more ravens and crows. This is good if the ravens and crows are comfortable in on the pile then the eagles wonít usually have an issue either. We will see.
Lot of flying, swooping and chasing this morning. They appear to be playing games? Lots of squawking going on. A raven almost flew into the trailer window which is open. There are seven big ravens competing for attention. One has a piece of meat then everyone starts to chase him. No eagles appear yet. Fifteen ravens on the pile. The one with piece of meat is back with it still in his mouth. He flew around for at least ten minutes with it at 9:10. In and out of the pile with lots of squawking with ravens chasing seagulls and each other. There is a rough-legged hawk flying high above us. The ravens and crows are everywhere having fun and playing games. I think I was able to get some good shots for my childrenís book on a little raven and his big adventure. The sun is just right you can really see their eyes. Are they very full of mischief. The seagulls went for reinforcements. They were being out numbered two to one.
The poor rough-legged hawk is being chased by a raven. You wouldnít think that a raptor would allow that kind of behavior but just like the bald eagle they are very tolerant.
There is a mature eagle at 10:05 flying over being harassed by two ravens.
10:20 the rough-legged hawk and mature eagle are flying. The two year old rough-legged hawk came into the pile for over fifty minutes. It was so cool it ate till it could eat no more. It flew off at 11:10 Oh my aching arm from holding my camera up to capture that perfect shot. 11:20-11:50 was quiet time.
11:50 a mature eagle is flying over. At 12:20 it grabbed some meat. The eagles are swooping around at 1:15. A seagull swallowed a frozen pork chop whole!!!! Gross!
There is a mature eagle flying, one in the trees and another immature flying. For about twenty minutes there was a lot of activity. Queen E, our double brown banded mature, soared around and finally came in after twenty minutes and grabbed some meat. I got a GREAT shot!!! There have been thirty-five seagulls and ravens around off and on the whole time.
Wind is gusting up to 30 mph most of the day which really makes for dramatic shots. The wind was coming out of the west which meant it was at our backs. Birds always fly into the wind when landing or taking off and it gave them a little more hang time too. Michael and I were both able to capture some pretty sweet shots!!
The footless seagull is still surviving which is good to know. 3:30 I called the shop to see how the 50th anniversary party was going and had to hang up on them. There were two mature eagles in the air, one on the perching tree and one in the middle trees playing musical trees. Then the two in the air, Miss Piggy and Queen E, started fighting in midair. Sweet!! Then Miss Piggy swooped down and grabbed two pieces of meat, one in each talon. She couldnít carry it all so she dropped the small piece which Queen E recovered. So much action we didnít know which way to turn. But I really worked by telephoto lens zooming in and out to get great aerial shots. Finally settled down a little at 4:25. Whew! What a fun day. We both got great footage.
4:35 the eagles headed across the road. At 4:45 there is a mature eagle back in the middle tree. There is a mature on top of a small tree. Now they are switching trees with the each other. Then one soared and one went to the perching tree. There are three mature eagles. One is in the far east tree, one on the perching tree and one flying. A 2nd year eagle is in the field. 2nd year and mature eagle came to the northeast end of the pile. One mature is still on the perching tree at 5:20. The seagulls left, the 2nd year went east at 5:35 and the mature eagle left at 5:45.
Thank you for such a spectacular day! This was the best day we have ever had to film and shoot these majestic creatures!!
All Photographs Copyrighted by Michael & Teresa McGill/McGills Nature in Motion-Unauthorized use prohibited