Riverkeeper report: Eagles establish new nesting site on Nottoway

Published 9:24 am Friday, December 16, 2011

An eagle’s nest was spotted on the Nottoway River. -- Jeff Turner | Tidewater News

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 8th through the 10th on the Nottoway below Courtland.

The river was fast, clear, 50 degrees and 7.7 on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge in Sebrell. Air temperatures ranged from 32 to 58 degrees.

Trash on this trip was bad. I picked up a bag and a half easily. Odd thing is there was just about as much above Courtland as there was downriver. Usually the most trash is below a town on the river.

I also fished out of the water a five-gallon bucket of used heavy duty oil, a five-gallon water jug and another five-gallon oil bucket that was full of water.

One item we found we could not remove as it was too big — a large boat. It was upside down hung up in a snag downriver from Courtland. It looked to be about 16 feet long.

I have contacted Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to see what they want to do with it. I could not see the numbers on the boat as it was submerged at the bow.

Moonpie wanted to salvage it and claim it as hers, but I told her maybe the owner will come and take care of it.

The fishing on this trip was not too bad. I caught seven largemouth to two pounds. I’m sure I could have caught more, but it took me a day to figure out that they wanted — a Cordell Ratlin’ Shad, one of the finest crank baits ever made.

I only caught two bream jigging. No yellow perch yet either. It seems the fish fared better from the fish kill after Irene the further upriver you go.

On the first day, I came across construction work being done on the City of Norfolk’s pump house. Looked like they were putting in some sheeting along the river to thwart erosion.

I can understand them doing that, but they had the entire river blocked by a giant boom. I contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the boom has since been moved to allow navigation of the river.

I came across the latest eagle’s nest up above Courtland. I’m guessing the eagles nesting in the leaning pine tree that finally fell relocated to this new pine tree.

The nest is right on the river and very small compared to the one on the Blackwater. I imagine it will get bigger as they add to it every season.

Every year I have more and more eagle sightings and get reports from others seeing eagles in our area. Since spotting my first eagle on the river in 1996, I have now logged 109 sightings.

It is really great to see these majestic birds making a comeback in our area and especially on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

JEFF TURNER is riverkeeper for the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper Program, an environmentally conscious organization that focuses on keeping local waterways healthy. BNRP’s parent organization is The Waterkeeper Alliance. Contact Turner at his website, www.blackwaternottoway.com.