Warning: more whining ahead.
There he is, the man of the hour, Mr. Steve Ingraham who is the Zeiss rep and purchased a case of Hot Hands for all of us to use on Sunday at the Connecticut Bald Eagle Festival. Saturday the weather was in the low twenties and teens with super high winds--not ideal conditions for an outdoor booth--especially when the snow moved in. Sunday when we arrived to set up in the morning, it was six degrees but sunny and no wind. Ben announced that he was wearing every article of clothing he packed in his suitcase. I was five layers with what was left with my supply of Hot Hands tucked in every available part on my body. They wore out but Steve was the man to supply us with more. All hail Steve! I'm sure I'm going to have to owe him a favor of some sort in the near future--hopefully not involving anything in waste management.
I did have a surprising birding incident on Sunday. The river boat that took people down the Connecticut River to see the eagles had an extra space so I hopped aboard hoping to escape the cold. I did not, because to really enjoy the birds, you have to be on one of the upper decks and chugging down the river in single digit temps is by no means warm. However, we saw not one but TWO golden eagles on the trip. Not only that, the birds started fighting and talon grabbing while they flew about eye level, above the trees along the banks of the river. That really made up for a lot. Everyone on the boat was excited--some were so excited, four letter words were flowing free and easily among the crowd. It really was pretty cool. Even the guy narrating the trip had to say, "Folks, I'm just going to stop talking because there's nothing I can to this, so just enjoy." He was quite right, words were not necessary to further enhance two golden eagles fighting in mid-air. Who knew, I had to go to Connecticut to see goldens?
We did see some bald eagles. It was interesting to me the number of people who came to this festival for the chance to see 16 to 30 bald eagles (there are three of them in the above photo). In Minnesota we had well over a hundred in the Colville Park Marina in Red Wing. Not to mention all the bald eagles that are found between Red Wing and Wabasha. But I suppose it's all relative. One nice bit of luck the festival had besides the two golden eagles was that a pair of balds were constructing a nest right across the river from where all us optics people were set up. You can see our army of scopes set up in the photo above. If you were thinking of purchasing a spotting scope, it was a great day for that because you could just go down the line and see the difference between all the makes and models on the nest.
The seal that we saw on Saturday morning showed up again in the river on Sunday afternoon. One of the bald eagles constructing the nest made a bee line for it and tried to steal a fish it was eating. That was quite a sight! Watching that big bomber cruise right along and lower its talons and then swoop right down for the seal. The seal ducked under water and the eagle circled a few times waiting for it to resurface. Every time the seal did, the eagle dove for it and missed. The crowd went wild.
I mentioned in the previous post that this was a hipper crowd and the outfits continued to impress on Sunday. I couldn't believe the number of people wearing long fur coats--definitely was the weather for it, but it's just not the type of coat that you see at bird festivals. There's a lady wearing one in the line of eagle spectators on the boat. The crowd was full of younger people too. I even saw a teenage couple having a date on the boat, snuggling each other while watching for birds. It was very cute.