June 18, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Wednesday, 24 December 2008 10:48
Eagle-watching season at the Shepaug dam is about to begin.
Reservations are being taken for The Shepaug Bald Eagle Observation Area in Southbury, which opens for its 24th season Dec. 27.
The Shepaug hydroelectric dam is a popular spot for eagles in winter when the turbulence below the dam keeps the water from freezing over and the fish provide a ready food source. Local experts report an average of eight eagles per day feeding at the dam this time of year.
Other birds seen in the area include Red-tail Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Goshawks, Great Blue Herons, and a variety of waterfowl.Specialists will be available with high-powered telescopes to help visitors see the Bald Eagles in action and to answer questions about them.
“These challenging economic times have forced the cancellation of other eagle fests in Connecticut, so this is truly one of the few opportunities people will have to view these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, completely free of charge,” said Gary Smolen, coordinator of the eagle observation program. “Plus, with this year’s opening week coinciding with most school vacations, we’d like to encourage families to bring their children out to enjoy this wonderful experience.”
Observation times are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays between 9 and 1 from Dec. 27 through March 11.
Visitors are encouraged to dress warmly since the observation area is unheated and to bring binoculars if possible — the number of onsite telescopes is limited.
Although admission is free, reservations are required. To make reservations for individuals, families and groups, call toll-free 1-800-368-8954 between 9 and 3 Tuesdays through Fridays.
The observation area is run by FirstLight Power Resources, owner and operator of the Housatonic River Project hydroelectric facilities. The dam was built by CL&P, which established and ran the observation area for many years before selling the operation to FirstLight.
Gary Smolen’s comment about other eagle festivals probably refers mostly to Connecticut Audubon’s annual Eagle Festival on the Connecticut River. The February festival, which drew tens of thousands of visitors each year, is a victim of the economy — it lost too many corporate sponsors. Connecticut Audubon hopes to resume the festival when the economy improves.
Ron Tetelman of Lewisboro reports during Sunday’s snow: “Just had two male Hairys (Hairy Woodpeckers) eating the suet cakes. Their female counterparts (“Harriets”) are here, too! A Carolina Wren also. Many Downys and the usual assortment of chickadees, tits, nuthatches, white-throats (one Fox Sparrow in the mix) and snow birds. Also, a Hermit Thrush is hanging out in our holly bushes, eating the berries
On Feathered Wings, trip to photo exhibit at American Museum of Natural History, Saturday, Jan. 17, all day, $75/$85, Connecticut Audubon, 860-767-0660, pwood @ ctaudubon.org
Birding Sachuest Point and Rhode Island Coast, with Andrew Griswold, Harlequins and other winter ducks, etc, Wednesday, Jan. 28, all day, $55/$65, Connecticut Audubon, 860-767-0660, pwood @ ctaudubon.org
Bird walks with Luke Tiller, mostly Saturdays at 8 a.m., $10 each; to register, www. sunrisebirding. com/ walks.htm; 203-981-9924, luke.tiller @ gmail.com.
First Sundays, birding at Greenwich Point with Meredith Sampson of Wild Wings, and other guides, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, meet at the second concession stand, 203-637-9822.
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