Happy New Year to All!
Our last roost count of 2012 was a marked contrast to two weeks earlier. The 15-18” snow fall that hit the area on December 20 is a bit more compacted, but hardly melted. Coupled with cold temperatures generally below freezing, and you have ideal conditions for seeing more eagles along the river, especially upriver.
The tally from the seven roosts that were counted Sunday was up from two weeks ago—104 on Sunday compared with a revised number of 86. Consistent with historical trends, the tally for the Sauk Prairie area roosts jumped in response to the weather changes.
After recording a total of 0 eagles during both of the first two counts of the season, the Sauk Prairie roosts were very active on Sunday. Sugar Loaf reported 35, and Blackhawk 1. While it may seem strange that these two roosts so close together would have widely divergent tallies, it is consistent with experiences at these two roosts, which tend to act in tandem. To a large extent, which roost is used more depends on which way the wind is blowing.
On Sunday night, the wind was coming off the river and blowing more directly into Blackhawk, a southward facing roost. Our spotters said only 1 landed and stayed in the Blackhawk roost, but they reported about 20 fly-bys. Eagles, not liking the chilly winds, flew on to more comfortable areas. Less than a mile away, Sugar Loaf—protected from those winds—had an impressive count with 35 birds in the roost. Nine of them flew in from the direction of Blackhawk, and others could have flown around and come back to Sugar Loaf as well.
Just a few miles downriver from Sauk City, Ferry Bluff also saw a pick-up in eagle activity, recording a total of 21 eagles, all but one on the river-side of the roost. The parking lot pull-off on Hwy, 60, where we usually have a volunteer or two, had not been plowed out, and we were not able to use the location to count any birds in the roost away from the river. We don’t know, but we can speculate there might have been a few eagles on the west side of the roost as well.
Off river, the Leland and Ederer Been roosts also reported modest counts. Leland reported 9 eagles, while Ederer Been totaled 5.
Lone Rock, where most of the eagles roost early in the season, had mixed activity. A total of 32 birds were counted in the roost, down considerably from the previous two counts. And another 19 flew by and kept on flying. We’re not sure where they may have roosted.
One thing we know for certain is that our volunteers remain dependable and dedicated. On Sunday, we had 17 volunteers counting, putting in a total of 33 hours. Our thanks to them for all their efforts. We trust they also experience a bit of enjoyment in the process! If any of you know of anyone else who would like to become a roost counter, don’t hesitate to let Jeb know.
Speaking of Jeb, he will be back for the Jan. 13 roost count, so all of you should report your counts to him in two weeks.
Thanks again for your help.