Riverkeeper report: The eagles are nesting

Published 10:09 am Monday, March 13, 2017

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 3rd through the 6th on the Nottoway below Courtland. The water was 48 degrees and clear and 5.68 on the USGS gauge at Sebrell. Air temps ranged from 25 to 60 degrees.  It was a cold trip ‘cept for the last day, of course, when I was coming off the river. That’s typical!

Fishing on this trip was not good for me. I talked to some guys that had caught five bass, but I only caught one hickory shad and one little blackfish. I did not do any casting though as I was fishing only for shad and rockfish … so that’s my excuse, and the fact I spent a lot of time picking up trash.

Yes, the trash below Courtland is just unbelievable. Even with a recent much-appreciated clean-up around Courtland by John Barksdale, there was so much trash. In only a 4-mile stretch I removed two very full, very heavy bags. And that is with all the Styrofoam mixed in as well. Hundreds of pounds of Styro have now made their way from above Courtland to well below Courtland.

Some of the white Styro is breaking up. I don’t think that’s a good thing either because as it breaks up into single BB-sized pieces I imagine fish and other wildlife will ingest more. Hopefully, it will not kill whatever eats it. The big blue pieces of Styro and tan-colored type however are not breaking up and we will start seeing that on the lower Nottoway more and more.

For those that do not know, the Styro came from the demolition of a meat-packing plant in Southampton County. The ruble from that demolition had Styro insulation mixed with it and was used by a farmer as fill for a roadbed through a swamp up above Courtland in 2015.

Moonpie and I saw some interesting critters on this trip. We got to watch a fluffy mink swim across the river and then check us out. Moonpie wanted to know how it was that the mink could swim across the river and emerge on the other side and still have a fluffy tail. Not knowing the true answer to that question, I told her it was Minky magic and I got me the evil eye for that.

Next we saw a small raccoon swimming across the river. We pulled up along side of it and Moonpie hollered “Hey, ya want a lift?” Amazingly, the little coon flipped over on its back, started doing the back-stroke and replied, “No thanks, the water’s fine. Y’all jump in and join me” Moonpie and I both politely declined to get into the frigid 48-degree water. We got some good video of the coon swimming and when it crawled up on a tree to get out of the water.

Except for cleaning up, the main mission of this patrol was to check on the eagle’s nest upriver of Courtland to see if anybody was home. I am very happy to report that the eagles are on the nest sitting. That is very good news to me because last year I could never verify they were there. This year I can verify they are there and they are also on the two nests on the Blackwater.

Now we just have to wait and see how many new baby eagles we will have this year on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

JEFF TURNER is the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper. He can be reached at blknotkpr@earthlink.net.