Eagle watch takes wing on Saturday

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By Brian Sweeney
A Delaware County Eagle Watch will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12, sponsored by Margaretville Hospital Auxiliary Wellness Committee.

Andy Mason, co-president of Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, will lead the free Eagle Watch. He anticipates that between 15-30 eagles will be spotted during the excursion.
“I’ve been leading these trips for about 25 years and we’ve never been shut out (of seeing eagles),” Mr. Mason noted.

He indicated that, at this time of year when there is considerable ice cover on the reservoirs, eagles tend to congregate on the open waters below the dams.
Mr. Mason said that usually 30-50 people take part in the Eagle Watches.

“It’s a very popular trip,” he said.

At the meeting places, Mr. Mason said he stands outside with his binoculars around his neck, so he’s easy to spot.

Participants are welcome to join the group at any of three designated meeting areas. The initial group will depart from the Ford Avenue lot in Oneonta at 8 a.m. The caravan will pick up birdwatchers at 8:45 a.m. at the McDonald’s parking lot in Delhi. The group will then travel to Walton to rendezvous with additional tour members at the Big M market at 9:15 a.m.

Leader easy to spot
“We try to make sure we don’t miss anybody. While not necessary, carpooling is encouraged for environmental and safety reasons and it’s easier to keep track of the group,” he explained. Walkie-talkies are utilized for communication between vehicles.

Mr. Mason said the group travels from Walton along the length of the Cannonsville Reservoir to Deposit, a prime eagle spotting area.

The tour then winds down to East Branch and before heading north on Route 30 to Downsville.
“This is another good stretch for sighting birds,” he noted.

After a lunch break in Downsville, for interested participants, the tour ends by mid-afternoon.
Mr. Mason said that the pace of the trip depends on the amount of bird activity.
“The eagles determine the stops,” he pointed out.

The trip leader said that participants should bring warm clothing, binoculars and walkie-talkies, if they have them. Cameras are also a good idea, he said.
“Occasionally, we’re close enough for decent photos, if someone has a fairly good lens. Sometimes we see them swoop down,” Mr. Mason added.

He said that the Eagle Watching trips used to go through Sullivan County, but the resurgence in the population has made Delaware County a good destination for eagle sightings.
The tour is free of charge. For information please contact Auxiliary Wellness Committee representative Rita Herbst at 845 586-1439, Mr. Mason at 607 267-8491 or visit: www.doas.us