The season’s second Brandwein Field Trip, Search for Eagles, took place in the Delaware Valley Sunday, Jan. 10, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The temperature at the start was 22 degrees and at the finish 32 degrees. It was a pleasant sunny day that began with watching feeder birds including hairy woodpeckers, dark-eyed junco, blue jays, and pileated woodpecker, among others. Sixteen participants, wearing face coverings and social distancing, logged 151 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.
The search included seeing 31 species of birds: 24 bald eagles, 8 red-tailed hawks, 1 sharp-shinned hawk, and 3 common ravens.
Our first bald eagle sighted was perched above the shale bank at Tom’s Creek, where we heard the cackling of a second bald eagle but were unable to locate it. At the Bushkill Access a juvenile bald eagle flew from down river and landed in New Jersey across from us. We then spotted an adult bald eagle up river perched on the Pennsylvania side of the river.
Approaching the Eshback Access, a common raven soared above. At the river we found a perched adult bald eagle down river in New Jersey. Enroute to the Dingmans Ferry Access we located a number of perched red-tailed hawks. No bald eagles at Dingmans or Route 209 mile marker 16 nest. Two adult bald eagles were perched above the ridge at mile marker 17. No bald eagle at the shale pit nest. Here is where we had a sharp-shinned hawk fly by.
No luck at Milford Beach. From the river road we spotted two adult bald eagles soaring high above Montague, N.J.
We were joined by additional participants at the parking area of the north entrance to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, mile marker 20.
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. We checked behind Delaware Valley High School; no bald eagle present.
At the River View Restaurant, near where Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York converge, mallards, common mergansers, and Canada geese but no bald eagle. We added a pit stop at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center.
The Laurel Grove Cemetery overlook above the Tristate Monument is where we checked an active bald eagle nest. No bald eagle 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; no peregrine falcon. However, two common ravens soared high above.
From the Indian Head Canoe livery station we spotted an adult bald eagle in flight. As we watched, a third-year bald eagle entered the area. At Pond Eddy on the Pennsylvania side we spotted a perched adult bald eagle in a pine tree. This location is where in past there was an active bald eagle nest. The nest is no longer there; however, this is an area that bald eagles frequent. We added a perched bald eagle high above on the ridge at Pond Eddy.
We continued to the Mongaup Falls Observation Blind. A juvenile bald eagle was perched then flew above our caravan enroute. Two common mergansers and a raft of black ducks were on the water. Two adult bald eagles were perched on the same tree limb 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 up river to the Lackawaxen. At the Minisink Observation Blind, a juvenile bald eagle was in flight. An adult bald eagle flew into the area.
By the time we reached the confluence of the Lackawaxen and the Delaware, we had observed 19 bald eagles.
We added five bald eagles along the Lackawaxen. In the vicinity of Appert Road is where we found them. During the last search, Jan. 3, within 100 yards of Appert Road we observed 20 bald eagles perched, in flight, and feeding. We are monitoring two bald eagle nests along the Lackawaxen.
We concluded our field trip at 3:30 p.m.
Future Searches for Eagles:
Future searches will be held on the following Sundays: 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.
An eagle identification field guide, and Search for Eagles activities publication will be provided by the Brandwein Institute.
Editor’s note: Jack Padalino, who leads the Search for Eagles, is president emeritus of the Pocono Environmental Education Center, a partner with the National Park Service.