Monday, February 27, 2012

Our Bald Eagle Tour

This past weekend was my birthday, a big one, and I wanted to do something different to celebrate. I had read in the newspaper several weeks ago about the Annual Eagle Tours offered at Millerton Lake in the early spring, and I decided that would be something my whole family could enjoy together. I knew going into it that it could be hit or miss in seeing a Bald Eagle, I'm mean really, who can predict these things? But I wanted to at least try. Let me tell you, I'm so happy we did it. The weather was perfect - sunny, about 52 degrees, and clear. The wind made the ride cold, but we were bundled up and we were even served hot cocoa at the halfway point in our trip.

We all met at the Historic Fresno Country Courthouse at 8am for a brief Power Point presentation on the Bald Eagle. There were about twenty five of us, and after the Power Point we headed to our cars to drive down to the boat ramp to board our vessel for the 3-hour excursion. We were about ten minutes into our trip when we saw two adolescent Bald Eagles perched atop a couple of trees. See it.....? We all had binoculars and got a good look at the regal birds, who seemed to be watching us. We journeyed on to a cove area to have a look at a nest that the rangers have been keeping an eye on. It was huge, built between two trees, and we were told it is about 6 feet wide. As we were gazing at the nest, we heard an excited gasp--There they are! Soaring above us were not one, but two Bald Eagles. We watched them for several minutes until they disappeared. Wow! Awesome - a completely overused word if you ask my opinion - was what it was, and appropriately so. We were filled with awe. To be sharing a moment in time with such an elegant and important bird was incredible. When it was time to ride back to our cars the boat was quite, the guests were satisfied. It was cold riding back into the wind. But it was unforgettable. The best birthday ever! Here's our day in pictures...

Walking down to board our boat.
Everyone under 13 years-old had to wear a life jacket.
Our boat takes off, leaving the historic courthouse behind.

Lots of time to take strike some poses...
Even though it was sunny and calm, the wind made the ride really cold.
Our first eagle sighting! See it on top of the tree? There was a second one too, but you can't see it in this picture. These guys are huge.

It looks like a heart carved into the rocks as we reach our half way point.

In case you were wondering, there is a floating bathroom that we docked to after about an hour and a half on the lake. It was after this break that we were served our hot cocoa. It felt good to drink something hot!
Back to eagle watching....
Here is a Bald Eagle nest. It is built on the horizontal bent branch. We were told it is about 6 feet wide. Our guide told us that he comes here regularly to check for little eagle heads in the nest.
Here are the mature adult Bald Eagles overhead. Beautiful! I wish I had a better picture of them.

It was cold, we were tired, but it was a great day!

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