Eagles on the nest

Published 6:01 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

By Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 10th through the 12th on the Nottoway below Franklin. The water was clear, normal and had jumped to 67 degrees. Air temps ranged from 47 to 80 degrees, which was very hot in the woods. The pollen on the river was horrendous. Massive thick yellow floating deposits accumulated at every log jam. Just looking at it made me ’bout break out in hives. Moonpie thought it would be funny to jump in it and turn yellow. So she did just that, and she did turn yellow, and then she did sneeze continuously for the next two hours … dumb doggie!

What can I say, the fishing on this trip was terrible. I only caught one striper, a gar and a chain pickerel. I tried jigging for white perch, but had no hits. I tried casting for bass, but they are on the bed and hard to catch. I hung one that was huge, but it tangled my line and I lost the fish and the lure. I really hated that too ’cause it was a one-of-a-kind lure I had fashioned. I tried for an hour to retrieve it, but that didn’t happen. I even trolled for miles, and only caught that one striper. I did not try for shad. I did see the herring get onshore, which was a treat I have not seen in years. For you that do not know, when we say they are on shore that means the herring are spawning. They get up next to shore in the cypress roots and sticks splashing and cavorting to their biological time clock. In the Cherry Grove cut-through there were thousands, it was a blessed sight to behold.

The trash on this trip was not too bad. A lot of trash is up on shore just out of the reach of my 48 inch litter getter, but I did pick up a full bag AND, I guess its just an obvious thing for me to find, but I also picked up a large trash can floating in the river!

The main mission on this patrol was to get downriver to the Cherry Grove cut-through to see if that eagle nest was occupied this year. I am happy to report that it is, [and] this will be the 21st year that I have witnessed eagles in that nest. Before the early 1990s, I had never seen an eagle on either the Blackwater or Nottoway rivers and I have been on those rivers since about 1964.

Now I kinda doubt it is the same parents I first saw in 1998, but that don’t matter. What matters is those baby eagles keep on getting manufactured there.

I still remember the day I found that nest. I knew there had to be one nearby, ’cause I kept seeing eagles around that area. I had been seeing eagles for two or three years there, but could never find that darn nest. Then one day I was coming down the river and saw an eagle in a tree. I was getting ready to try to take a pic of it but it took off. So I followed it and followed it as, amazingly, it flew right along the river. I though this was kinda odd, since usually they just turn right or left and disappear over the trees. But this one that day seemed to be letting me follow it, even seemingly slowing down if it got too far ahead of me. And then it happened, as we rounded a bend in the river I saw the eagle land in a really tall pine tree. As I pulled up there I wondered why all of a sudden it landed … and then I saw the nest. A massive structure very well hidden in the shadows of the mighty pine’s limbs.

It was my first nest finding, and one of my happiest moments on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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