Dear ECOC Members,
Participants in a fully subscribed program gathered at and departed from the
Park & Ride in Newburyport for a few hours with the Bald Eagles on Sunday,
February 24, 2008. It was a delightful morning with mild temperature and
nearly windless conditions.
We set up along the bank of the swiftly flowing Merrimack River at the
Newburyport Boat Basin on Merrimack Street. Very quickly a scope toting
veteran spotted an immature Bald Eagle perched in a tree in the Salisbury
marsh. Another immature eagle was seen perched on Ram Island in a twisted
tree by one of our young naturalists. We listened to the ice sheets in the
We watched the courtship display of Common Goldeneye and heard their whistle
on the wing. Two, immature Bald Eagles flew in front of the group, headed
downriver; they jostled briefly as adolescents do. An adult Bald Eagle
stooped for prey and transported the fish to a secluded brunch spot. We
enjoyed two Northern Harriers ~ one brown female and a gray male. Their
facial discs were well seen along with their white rump patch. These birds
coursed and quartered the Salisbury marsh and flew over the river. At one
point, these birds flew in a wheeling fashion. Great Cormorants aflight
sported white flank patches and lemon-yellow throat pouches. A large-headed
and thick-billed Common Loon was foraging to our left; it dove, and we never
saw it resurface.
We reviewed a map of the protected islands in the lower Merrimack River and
spoke of the health of the river. We looked at interpretive materials to
understand the field characteristics of these majestic birds of prey ~ the
yellow cere, the powerful talons and the large, hooked, yellow bill. We
spoke of their wingspan, vision and the length of these birds of prey.
We headed to Old Merrill Street in Amesbury in hopes of some more action. We
scoped Eagle Island; in the foreground were several Common Mergansers,
Common Goldeneye and a congregation of Mallards. We saw more short-tailed
cormorants and a seal bottling.
Our group was thrilled with the fine weather, spectacular views and the
abundance of Bald Eagles.