Notes from the Field (Spring 2011):

Date: : May 26, 2011
Beach: Ocean Shores
Participants: Dan Varland, Don and Dalene Edgar
Comments: We saw a record 21 Bald Eagles during our survey at Ocean Shores. This is the largest number of Bald Eagles we have counted on a survey - ever! Eagles seemed to be everywhere we looked. We even saw M/S, the eagle we banded at Grayland on May 17. They were mostly here, I believe, to feed on marine mammal carcasses; these we found at a number of spots along the beach.

Raptor count:
Bald Eagle Merlin
14 adults,
7 juveniles
1



Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Bald Eagle M/S



Eagle in flight followed by crow
M/S, the Bald Eagle we captured and banded on May 17, lifts off a perch after being harassed by a crow.
Dalene Edgar photo.


Juvenile Bald Eagle in flight
A three-year-old Bald Eagle. This bird is aged by its beak and plumage color. The beak has transitioned from brown to yellow while the overall plumage color is brown.
Dalene Edgar photo.


Pair of Bald Eagles flying low over surf
Bald Eagle pair.
Dalene Edgar photo.


Merlin perched in branches
Merlin.
Dalene Edgar photo.


shorebirds with white bodies, a black cap and bright orange bills
Caspian Terns and shorebirds.
Dalene Edgar photo.



Date: : May 17, 2011
Beach: 3.3 miles south of Grayland at the south end of Midway Beach
Participants: Varland, Tom Rowley, Sandra Miller, Mary O'Neil and Cindie Sundstrom.

Comment: We captured, banded, blood sampled and feather sampled a 4-year-old female Bald Eagle using a bow net and a California Sea Lion carcass.


The bow net set, and the remains of a California Sea Lion carcass. Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, Common Ravens and gulls had been feeding on this carcass for days before we showed up, before dawn, to set up for this capture.
This photo and all the others were taken by Tom Rowley.



Eagles and ravens at the bait site a few hours after sunrise. The darker eagle is a two-year old. The other, which we captured a short time after this photo was taken, is four. Bald Eagles generally reach full maturing at age five. At age four their white heads and tails are mottled with brown. Given the size of the bow net, I can only capture one bird at a time. My strategy here, which worked, was to drive closer, bump the birds off the carcass, then capture the first eagle to return.



The older, dominant eagle returned first. Once the bird was in hand, through measurements we learned we had captured a female. Female eagles are larger than male eagles.



























Our eagle standing up under the net. She was un-injured in the capture process.







Our eagle was restrained with an aba over her body, velcro around her legs, vet wrap over her toes and a hood over her head. Left to right with me in the photo are Sandra Miller, Cindie Sundstrom and Mary O'Neil.



Sandra holds the eagle while I get ready to band, measure and take tissue samples.



Weighing the bird, we found she weighed 10.4 pounds.







Applying the colored leg band.



Applying the silver, US Fish & Wildlife Service leg band.



Taking a blood sample.



Taking a feather sample.







With the hood removed, I wanted to get a measurement called the Cranium. Using calipers, one measures the distance from the back of the head to the front of the beak. I had to give up on my attempt to get this measurement as she would not tolerate my close approach with the calipers.











Of the 12 Bald Eagles I have captured and banded over the years, this one was the feistiest.



























Free at last!



Tom Rowley. My thanks to Tom for taking this fantastic series of photos.



Date: : May 16, 2011
Beach: Grayland
Participants: Dan Varland, Sandra Miller, and Mary O'Neil
Comments: Given the large number of Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures seen feeding on the California Sea Lion carcass by Dave Murnen and Dan Miller during their May 14 Grayland survey, we made an evening reconnaissance trip to the site to look for activity. We had also heard from Snowy Plover biologist Cindie Sundstrom that eagles were in abundance at the carcass where Dave and Dan saw feeding. Our plan was to trap on the 17th if conditions were right.

Vultures feeding on a carcass on the beach
When we arrived on site, there were several Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures on and near the Sea Lion carcass. The eagles moved off at our approach, but these vultures were happy to stay and feed.
Dan Varland photo.


Vultures feeding on a carcass on the beach
Note the juvenile Bald Eagle perched in the background beyond the Turkey Vultures.
Dan Varland photo.


Bald Eagle feeding on the beach with a full moon in the background
We left for dinner and returned at sunset. With the moon in the background, we found this adult Bald Eagle feeding at the carcass.
Dan Varland photo.


Bald Eagle - wings extended - feeding on the beach with a full moon in the background
The eagle extended his wings for balance while pulling on the carcass.
Dan Varland photo.



Date: : May 14, 2011
Beach: Grayland
Participants: Dave Murnen and Dan Miller.

On the beach, Bald eagles, vultures and ravens feeding on a carcass.
At one point we had four Bald Eagles, four Turkey Vultures and two ravens vying for a good spot on this carcass. The carcass was a California Sea Lion. We later learned that it had washed up on the beach more than a week earlier.



On the beach, Bald eagles, vultures and ravens feeding on a carcass.



Vultures and young bald eagle near sea lion carcass.
California Sea Lion carcass in the foreground with two Turkey Vultures and a juvenile Bald Eagle behind.



The vultures walked off rather than flew off
The vultures walked off rather than flew off. Either they had had their fill or they were uneasy about having us around.



Flying vulture
Not expecting vultures, Dave and I first called this an eagle. Then I said the head was all wrong and he was too big for a raven. We quickly settled on vultures, which was confirmed through the scope, and got some insights on the pecking order. The ravens are gutsy but careful foraging within easy pecking distance of the eagles, but they had no fear of the vultures, as long as the vultures were on the ground. They stayed out of the way of any coming in for a landing. This was my most exciting Grayland survey.



Date: : May 2, 2011
Beach: Ocean Shores
Participants: Dan Varland, Tom Rowley, Mary O'Neil and Cecilia Pinkal.

Comments: We made an effort to capture and band a Bald Eagle this morning, but did not have success. With the netlauncher set, we waited patiently for most of the morning. An eagle landed briefly at our bait site, then flew off to capture a live Western Grebe stranded on the beach. Tom Rowley was ready with his camera.

Raptor count:
Bald Eagle
5 adults,
1 juvenile



Two Bald Eagles with a fish at the shoreline.
Bald Eagle pair at the water's edge.
Tom Rowley photo.



A coyote on sand dunes.
A coyote looks west from the dunes.
Tom Rowley photo.



Shorebird with a badly broken leg tilting to feed from sediment
This Marbled Murrelet had a badly broken leg, but was still able to feed.
Tom Rowley photo.




Date: April 30, 2011
Locations: near Hoquiam Sewage Treatment Plant; Humptulips River Delta; city of Ocean Shores; beach just west of Damon Point at Ocean Shores.
Observers: Dan Varland, Kathy Alfiere, Eunice Blubauagh, Jonathan Blubaugh, Jeremy Blubaugh, Barbara Dolan, Deb Ford, Glenn Marquardt, Sharon Taylor, and Kathleen Tonda, and Anneka van Doorninck.

Comment: I lead In Search of Coastal Raptors, a field trip that was part of the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival.

Group of people in front of a school holding up a banner that reads Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival
The In Search of Coastal Raptors field trip group pauses for a photo at Hoquiam High School.



People lined up along road with binoculars and scopes on tripods
We looked for raptors where the Humptulips River empties into Grays Harbor along Burrows Road. While we saw no raptors, we observed a variety of species, including Canada Geese and Black-bellied Plovers.
Dan Varland photo.



Three people on beach, center person looking through a tripod-mounted scope
L to R: Anneka van Doornick, Barbara Dolan and Glenn Marquardt look for raptors near Damon Point at the south end of Ocean Shores.
Dan Varland photo.



Cell tower with an osprey and nest barely visible at top
Active Osprey nest atop a tower at Ocean Shores.
Dan Varland photo.



Trees with a nest in the crook of branches
Active Bald Eagle nest in a residential neighborhood at Ocean Shores.
Dan Varland photo.







Date: April 23, 2011
Beach: Long Beach
Participants: Dan Varland, Debbie Duffield, Dalin D'Alessandra and Julie Tennis.

Comment: I joined Debbie, Dalin and Julie for breakfast at the 42nd Street Café in Seaview to talk about their marine mammal work. Julie works for Washington State Parks in environmental education. Debbie is a Professor at Portland State University. Dalin works with Debbie to collect data on cause of mortality in marine mammals found dead on the coastal beaches of Washington and Oregon. To facilitate their research, they work closely with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Two women on the beach standing behind a truck
Debbie Duffield (right) and Dalin D'Alessandra at Long Beach.
Dan Varland photo.



Bagged Harbor Porpoise to be taken in for necropsy.
Bagged Harbor Porpoise to be taken in for necropsy.
Dan Varland photo.




Date: April 21, 2010
Beach: River near LaPush, Washington
Observers: Dan Varland, Scott Horton, Rick Anderson, Morris Jacobson, and Garrett Rasmussen.

Comment: Using a bow net baited with a salmon carcass, we tried to lure in a Bald Eagle for banding and blood sampling. A few individuals noticed our set as they flew over, but none were interested in making a visit.

Two men in a boat, one on the dock
Scott Horton with the bow net as we settle in for a 1/4-mile boat ride up the Quileute River.
Dan Varland photo.



three men in a speeding boat
From Quileute Natural Resources, left to right, are Garrett Rasmussen, Rick Anderson, and Morris Jacobson.
Dan Varland photo.



Two men assembling the trap alongside a river
Scott and Garret work to get the bow net and salmon bait into position.
Dan Varland photo.



Trap in the foreground as men load a boat on the river
The set, with bow net somewhat hidden and salmon bait obvious, is ready.
Dan Varland photo.



Four men with camera equipment watching the trap across the river
Across river, we await the arrival of an eagle to our set.
Dan Varland photo.




Date: April 16, 2011
Beach: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Aaron Loucks, Cameron and Christina Snyder.
Comments: We made an effort to capture and band a Bald Eagle at the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula using our bow net. We didn't have success. A coyote scavenging an old carcass helped make our morning more interesting as did the appearance of one of our banded peregrines.

Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon D/2



Coyote scavenging an animal carcass on the beach
We saw this Coyote scavenging near the north end of the Peninsula. Given it's scruffy appearance, this animal was likely not well.


Coyote scavenging an animal carcass on the beach



Coyote scavenging an animal carcass on the beach with a bald eagle watching from a driftwood perch
As the coyote fed, a Bald Eagle looked on with interest.


Coyote scavenging an animal carcass on the beach with a bald eagle watching from a driftwood perch



Coyote scavenging an animal carcass on the beach with a bald eagle watching from a driftwood perch



Banded Peregrine Falcon on the beach scratching it's beak with a talon
D/2, a first-year female Peregrine Falcon. We banded this individual not too far from where this photo was taken on December 19, 2010.






Date: April 10, 2011
Beach: Ocean Shores
Participants: Dave Murnen, Dan Miller, Mary O'Neil and Stan Johannes.




Washingtonians making the best of a rainy day at the beach!
Dan Miller photo.




Gull feeding on sea lion carcass.
Dan Miller photo.







Date: April 9, 2011
Beach: Ocean Shores
Participants: Varland, Tom Rowley, Dale Larson and Cameron Snyder.

Comments: We made an effort to capture and band a Bald Eagle this morning, but did not have success. With the netlauncher set, we waited patiently for most of the morning. An eagle landed briefly at our bait site, then flew off to capture a live Western Grebe stranded on the beach. Tom Rowley was ready with his camera.

Raptor count:
Bald Eagle
5 juveniles,
1 adult



Series of photos - Bald Eagle captures Western Grebe stranded at the water's edge.
Bald Eagle captures Western Grebe stranded at the water's edge.
Tom Rowley photo.



Series of photos - Bald Eagle captures Western Grebe stranded at the water's edge.
Tom Rowley photo.



Series of photos - Bald Eagle captures Western Grebe stranded at the water's edge.
Tom Rowley photo.



Series of photos - Bald Eagle captures Western Grebe stranded at the water's edge.
Tom Rowley photo.



Series of photos - Bald Eagle captures Western Grebe stranded at the water's edge.
Tom Rowley photo.



Series of photos - Bald Eagle captures Western Grebe stranded at the water's edge.
Tom Rowley photo.







Date: March 25, 2011
Beach: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Terry Gibson, Will Dixon, Jerry Smith, Wayne McKleskey, Jerry Broadus, Clarice Clark, Tracey and Jeff Kidston.


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon B/5



Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon D/2



Person holding a falcon with wings spread
B/5, a first-year female Peregrine Falcon that we captured and banded this day on the beach. Note the bandage. I got that finger a little too close to her beak! Jeff Kidston photo.



captured Falcon being held
Dan Varland photo.


Four men standing on beach
L to R: Jerry Smith, Wayne McKleskey, Will Dixon and Terry Gibson enjoying the day afield. Dan Varland photo.



Person in rain slicker with wooden flute.
We sure enjoyed Wayne McKleskey's flute playing during our stop at the north end of the Peninsula. Dan Varland photo.




Date: March 24, 2011
Beach: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Jerry Broadus, Clarice Clark, Tracey and Jeff Kidston.


Raptor count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
5 adults,
1 juvenile
4 Adults



Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon K/5



Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Bald Eagle N/B
Bald Eagle N/A



Woman holding hooded falcon on the beach while a man applies bands
Jerry Broadus applies a leg band with Tracey Kidston holding the peregrine, an adult female. Dan Varland photo.



close up of bands on hooded falcon
K/5 after receiving her new bands. Dan Varland photo.



Man on beach holding falcon with wings outstretched
K/5 and me. Jeff Kidston photo.



Bald eagle flying
Tracey Kidston captured this fantastic image of N/B, a Bald Eagle that Jane Fink, Dale Larson, Phil Seu and I banded on March 7 very near where her photo was taken. Also today we saw N/A, a Bald Eagle we captured at Long Beach as a 2-year-old on February 28, 2009.



Date: March 23, 2011
Beach: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Jerry Broadus, and Clarice Clark.


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon P/4
Peregrine Falcon D/2



Falcon feeding on prey bird
P/4 feeds on White-winged Scoter. We captured and banded this female peregrine on October 30, 2009. She will be two years old this spring.
Dan Varland photo.






Date: March 19, 2011
Beach: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dave Murnen, Dianna Moore, Deby Dixon and Stan Johannes.


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon P/5



View of two observers from inside a vehicle
Dianna Moore and Dave Murnen on the survey.
Deby Dixon photo.


Bald eagle landing with wings spread and ocean surf in background
A Bald Eagle settles in for a landing while a Sanderling scoots north behind him.
Deby Dixon photo.


Falcon perched on driftwood
P/5, a first-year female Peregrine Falcon we captured and banded on December 12, 2010.
Deby Dixon photo.



Date: March 7, 2011
Beach: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Jane Fink, Dale Larson, and Phil Seu.


Raptor count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
3 Adults,
1 juvenile
2 adults,
1 juvenile



Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon K/4
Peregrine Falcon P/4



Jane Fink and I discuss how to set up the netlauncher with Phil Seu (left) looking on.
Jane Fink and I discuss how to set up the netlauncher with Phil Seu (left) looking on.
Dale Larson photo.


Juvenile Peregrine Falcon feeding on a shorebird.
Juvenile Peregrine Falcon feeding on a shorebird.


This photo and the next several show Jane Fink rounding up an adult female Bald Eagle we snared at the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula. Don't try this at home!
This photo and the next several show Jane Fink rounding up an adult female Bald Eagle we snared at the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula. Don't try this at home!


Woman handling a captured bald eagle



Woman handling a captured bald eagle



Woman handling a captured bald eagle



Woman handling a captured bald eagle
Jane Fink with the catch of the day.
Dale Larson photo.


three people walking on beach, one holding a bald eagle
L to R: Dale Larson, Dan Varland, Jane Fink and the eagle, which was captured for banding and blood sampling.
Phil Seu photo.


Measuring the talons of a bald eagle
The sex of a Bald Eagle can be determined from two measurements: length of hallux (back talon) and bill depth (next photo).
Phil Seu photo.


Measuring bill depth of a Bald Eagle.
Measuring bill depth to determine the sex of this Bald Eagle.
Phil Seu photo.



Date: March 6, 2011
Beach: Ocean Shores
Observers: Mary Kay Kenney, Dan Miller, and Mark and Hilary Schult conducted the survey. Dan Varland, Jane Fink, David Hancock and Scott Ford set up the netlauncher in an effort to capture and band a Bald Eagle.

Comments: Mark Schult has generously volunteered his time to serve as webmaster for Coastal Raptors since 2005. It was really great having him and his daughter, Hilary, share the survey with us. Mark posted photos and comments from the morning's adventures on his family website, The Crabby Chicken Ranch.


Raptor count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
4 adults 1 adult,
1 juvenile



Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon A/4
Peregrine Falcon P/5



Mark Schult and his daughter Hilary.
Mark Schult and his daughter Hilary.
Dan Varland photo.


Netlauncher camoflaged on beach
We set up the netlauncher (it's in that pile of driftwood!). We hoped to capture and band a Bald Eagle or two, but none stopped in to sample our fish (right side of picture).
Dan Varland photo.


Man on beach in front of vehicle loaded with cut wood.
Local man ‘Poncho Villa' (aka Craig Heiller) regularly collects firewood and debris on the beach.
Dan Varland photo.



Date: March 5, 2011
Beach: Long Beach
Observers: Mary Kay Kenney, Dan Miller, Sandra Miller, Jane Fink, Dan Varland, David Hancock, and Mary Scott.
Comments: We saw large numbers of Bald Eagles and three banded Peregrine Falcons during our time on the peninsula.


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon D/5
Peregrine Falcon N/5
Peregrine Falcon V/V



Three people on beach with viewing equipment
L to R: Mary Scott, David Hancock and Jane Fink enjoy the sun at the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula.
Dan Varland photo.


Woman holding captured Peregrine Falcon
Jane Fink with D/5, a second year peregrine that we captured to obtain blood and feather samples. D/5 was banded at Long Beach during February, 2010.
Dan Miller photo.


Eagle perched on crab pot
Juvenile Bald Eagle perched on an upturned crab pot with an adult Bald in the background.
Dan Varland photo.



Date: March 4, 2011
Beach: Ocean Shores
Observers: Mary Kay Kenney, Don and Dalene Edgar, Dan Miller.


Raptor count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
3 Adults,
2 juveniles
2 adults,
1 juvenile



Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon A/4
Peregrine Falcon P/5
Peregrine Falcon P/4



Peregrine falcon standing on torn prey on reflective wet sand
Peregrine Falcon P/4 feeding on a Common Murre. She was observed flying down the beach and capturing this bird, which had been standing near the water's edge.
Dalene Edgar photo.


Peregrine falcon standing on torn prey on reflective wet sand
P/4 eyes a Bald Eagle flying in to take her meal.
Dalene Edgar photo.


Peregrine falcon flying away from partially consumed prey on the beach
Wisely, P/4 leaves in response to the incoming eagle.
Dalene Edgar photo.


Bald eagle flying away with the stolen prey in its talons
The eagle steals P/4's breakfast.
Dalene Edgar photo.