The year’s first Brandwein Field Trip, Search for Eagles took place in the Delaware Valley Sunday, Dec. 13 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The temperature at the start was 36 degrees and at the finish 50 degrees. It was foggy with low visibility at the start until the fog lifted at 10 am. It was a pleasant partly sunny day that began with watching feeder birds, including hairy and downy woodpeckers, dark-eyed junco, blue jays, and pileated woodpeckers, among others. Four participants, wearing face coverings and social distancing, logged 150 miles in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Upper Delaware Scenic River from the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) to the Bushkill Access and the trip’s conclusion at the headwaters of the Lackawaxen River.
Jack Padalino, president emeritus of the Brandwein Institute and PEEC a partner with the National Park Service, led the search that included seeing 34 species of birds: 11 bald eagles, 4 red-tailed hawks, 1 peregrine falcon, and 3 common ravens.
Fog initially prevented us from seeing distant perching birds. We did manage to see a flock of Cedar Waxwings and a red-tailed hawk before 10 a.m. after the fog lifted. We drew blanks at the usual bald eagle sites: Bushkill Access, Tom’s Creek, Eshbacks, Dingmans Access, Dingmans Cemetery, the nests at mile makers 16 and 17, Milford Beach and River Road.
We checked the bald eagle nest near the Pierce House — no bald eagle present.
North of Cummings Road a common raven was soaring above the ridge. This location is near where in past there was an active bald eagle nest opposite the Kittatinny Campground above the westbound lane along Interstate 80. The nest is no longer there; however, bald eagles still frequent the area.
We continued past the Best Western, no eagles; however, a red-tailed hawk was perched aside the westbound lane of I-84. At the River View Restaurant near where Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York converge, mallards and Canada geese but no bald eagles.
The Laurel Grove Cemetery overlook above the tri-state monument is where we checked an active bald eagle nest. No bald eagles present.
The Eddy Farm Resort overlook was quiet; no new species added.
By noon we were at the Hawks Nest historical marker. Checked the whitewash on the cliff, one peregrine falcon was soaring above the ridge and another perched on a ledge. We were able to enjoy the perched peregrine through a spotting scope.
From the Indian Head Canoe livery station we spotted our first bald eagle perched in a white pine. We added a juvenile bald eagle soaring high above the ridge at Pond Eddy. We continued to the Mongaup Falls Observation Blind. Two common mergansers were on the water and as we departed a we heard a bald eagle calling. An adult bald eagle was perched near the nest high on the ridge along Plank Road. No bald eagles at the Rio Reservoir Dam.
We returned to the Delaware and traveled upriver to the Lackawaxen. We saw four bald eagles flying above the confluence of the Lackawaxen and the Delaware.
We added four more perched bald eagles along the Lackawaxen. We are monitoring two bald eagle nests along the river now that we discovered a second nest today. Our last bald eagle was a juvenile bird perched high on the ridge in the tree that a number of years ago I saw 11 bald eagles roosting.
We concluded our field trip at 3:30 p.m.
Future Search for Eagles will be held on the following dates: Jan. 3 and 10; Feb. 7 and 14; and March 7 and 14.
Weather permitting, meet at 8 a.m. at the PEEC parking lot (538 Emery Road, Dingmans Ferry, Pa.), or at 10 a.m. at the north entrance to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area entrance, Route 209 south mile marker 20, Milford, Pa. The search will conclude along the Lackawaxen River at approximately 4 p.m.
Dress warmly, and bring binoculars, field guides, and a lunch. Face coverings and social distancing are required.
To participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-325-0536, and indicate which field trips you will be attending. There is no charge.
The eagle observation data collected on the searches will be shared with the National Park Service, the Sussex County Bird Club, the Eagle Institute, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and the Hawk Migration Association of North America.
An eagle identification field guide, and Search for Eagles activities publication will be provided by the Brandwein Institute.