Eagle problems

Published 1:02 pm Saturday, June 2, 2018

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 24th through the 26th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was high at 1.40 on the Franklin USGS gauge, clear, fast and 74 degrees. Air temps ranged from 56 to 83 degrees. It was a little chilly that first night, but it kept the skeeters down, and I watched the fireflies dance over the river bundled up like it was March. I would have liked to have had a fire, but uhhh, boat/fire. .. not good.

Two young eagles spotted at the Cherry Grove nest last year. — Submitted | Jeff Turner

The fishing on this trip was terrible, especially so for bass and bream, etc. When we get a big influx of fresh water like we had just gotten, the pH of the water changes along with the water temp just enough to kinda put the fish in shock. Also, if there is a big and fast enough deluge into the river, the dissolved oxygen level can go down due to high biological oxygen demand (BOD) from decaying plant matter. Don’t know if that contributed this time, as I did not take my oxygen meter. Regardless, casting was tough going. I mean mile after mile of 100’s of cast … and no fish. I even tried the fly rod and had very little success. I did catch enough baitfish to allow me to catch a 4- and a 7-pound catfish the first night, but I was skunked the second night. I only had a couple of hits that night and I think both of those were gar.

Trash on this trip was fairly light. I did find a coiled section of big black hose in the river just downriver from the mill that I could not remove, as it was too heavy. I will have to return with my winch to try to get that out of the river. It might also be too big and heavy for that method. If it is, I will have to tow it and drag it out of the river with the truck I guess.

Moonpie Critter Patrol visited a beaver that I could not believe how big that rascal was. Moonpie thought it was a hog bear it was so large. I would say it was in the 50-pound class for real.

Well, I’m sad to report we did not have such a great eagle hatch this year. The Pretlow/Butler farm nest site was not occupied this spring. I guess something happened to one or more of that breeding pair. At the Cherry Grove nest earlier in the year I had seen two babies. In successive trips to the nest I had watched them grow and get big enough to get out of the nest and start hopping around. However, on this trip I only saw one. I believe it is too early to suppose that one has already flown the coop so to speak. So, it looks like something bad has happened to it. I will go back again soon and look, but the outlook is not good I believe. I have been keeping records of this nest since 1998. A lot of eagles have come out of that nest since then.

So I’m not going to be too saddened by this loss, for that’s the way it is in nature and on the two Rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

To contact Jeff about river issues, email him at blknotkpr@earthlink.net.