Riverkeeper Report: Area eagles expand territory

Published 12:08 pm Monday, March 31, 2014

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner spotted this hut made by a family of beavers on the Blackwater River during his recent travels. -- SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner spotted this hut made by a family of beavers on the Blackwater River during his recent travels. — SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Spirit of Moonpie and I patrolled the Blackwater in the Franklin area the 20th through the 22nd. I’m doing the best I can to write this five days after the trip. I fell on the 22nd when I got home and now have three displaced broken ribs, so I’m kinda out of it. This will be my last patrol for some time.

Okay, back to the report. The water was clear and 46 degrees and air temps ranged from 32 to 70 degrees. Trash was pretty bad and I picked up a full bag. I also picked up a kiddie table and a medical waste trashcan, which I just cannot figure how the heck something like that ends up in the river.

Fishing on this trip was terrible. I did finally catch a few shad and a couple of small stripers, but that was about it. The highlight of the trip was the wildlife bonanza. I saw a bunch of different critters including a family of beavers that had built a huge hut. But the REALLY cool thing is we have a new eagle-nesting site on the river close to Franklin.

I do not have the exact coordinates yet, but I will get them one day when I’m well again, if that ever happens. It’s downriver from Franklin on the east side close to the power line that crosses the river for those of y’all that want to go try to find it. It is a small nest most likely only a year or two old. I would also guess it’s most likely some of the offspring from the Cherry Grove nesting pair, or at least would like to think so. In any event it’s pretty cool, and I’m in the process of getting the information to The Center for Conservation Biology at William and Mary and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Had a pretty strange critter experience the first day out at the Norfolk and Southern RR trestle that crosses the river just upriver from Franklin. We were sitting there shad fishing beside the trestle when I head Moonpie go to whistling and a hootin’ and catcalling from the back of the boat. “What the heck,” I said, “are you so riled up about?”

“Whooooweee,” she said. “Lookee yonder up on the trestle comin’ this way, good gravy and biscuits, that is one foxy critter comin’ this way.”

I looked up and sure enough trotting across the RR trestle 30 feet above us was a beautiful red fox. It was sauntering along like it was an everyday routine, and it probably was. The fox finally got to us and Moonpie hollered up, “Hey, Foxy! How ‘bout we’uns get together down here in my motor-powered gondola and talk about the birds and the bees?”

The fox stopped, briefly looked down at us and made a sharp barking sound, which I took to mean no, then turned its nose up and trotted off.

“Well!” said Moonpie, “The rudeness of some never ceases to amaze me.”

I looked at Moonpie and said, “Well, for one thing sweetheart, that was a dude. I mean I could tell that and you called it foxy.”

“So?” Moonpie exclaimed. “Us gals can call a hot guy foxy. I see it done on TV all the time. I mean, after all my fine private gondolier, that was a mighty pretty fox that we saw on one of the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.”

Hey, ain’t that my line I always close with?

JEFF TURNER is Riverkeeper for the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper Program (BNRP), an environmentally conscious organization that focuses on keeping local waterways healthy. BNRP’s parent organization is The Waterkeeper Alliance. Contact information for Turner is listed on the program’s Web site, www.blackwaternottoway.com