During the U.S. Forest Service’s second bald eagle count of the 2012-13 season, a pair of adult eagles was observed adding to their nest at Lake Hemet.
Despite frigid temperatures, almost 200 hardy volunteers turned out to help count our magnificent national birds at several Southern California lakes. About 22 counters were at Lake Hemet Saturday morning, Jan. 12. More than 60 went to Silverwood Lake and another 60 were at Lake Perris. The rest attended the San Bernardino Mountain counts.
“At Lake Hemet Saturday, 20 folks came to watch the birds. Both male and female birds were spotted. We didn’t have to wait. I found the birds right away,” said Anne Poopatanapong, San Jacinto Ranger District biologist. “The birds seem to be adding to the nest platform that was built in the fall. So that is good. We just saw them flying and perching — overall a great day.”
A grand total of 12 eagles (nine adults and three juveniles) were observed at the lake areas during the one-hour count. Only eight were sighted during the December count. Besides the two local eagles, five eagles (three adults and two juveniles) were observed near Big Bear Lake; two adult eagles were seen at Lake Arrowhead; one adult eagle was seen at Silverwood Lake; and two eagles (one adult and one juvenile) were at Lake Perris.
During the winter, the number of bald eagles in Southern California increases as the resident eagles are joined by eagles that have migrated south to find food. Migrating eagles typically begin arriving in the area in late November and leave in late March or early April.
Cold temperatures did not deter eagle activities. Quite a few volunteers saw their very first bald eagle, according to the Forest Service press release. Volunteers had to bundle up due to the recent cold spell.
During the count period, volunteers in Big Bear braved single-digit temperatures after it “warmed up” from zero degrees overnight. Even though much of Big Bear Lake was covered with ice, eagles were seen around the pockets of open water where ducks were clustered.
The two remaining bald eagle counts for this winter are scheduled for Saturday morning, Feb. 9 and March 9. No experience is needed. Signing up ahead of time is unnecessary — just show up at the designated time and location, dress warmly, bring binoculars and a watch.
Lake Hemet volunteers should plan on meeting at the Lake Hemet Market at 8:30 a.m. for orientation. Contact Poopatanapong at the San Jacinto Ranger District ([email protected] or (909) 382-2935) for more information.
To view the resident pair of eagles in Garner Valley, stop by the Forest Service’s Lake Hemet Day Use Area and just peer across the lake. The birds are often flying overhead fishermen and/or sitting in trees above the picnic area.