2007 Winding Down - Looking Forward to 2008 as the cycle continues

Wildlife NewsSkye fledged this past week and is spending less and less time in the Sidney nest. The eagle cam season is winding down for 2007 but don't go away, there are lots of things still ongoing and more to come.

The whole "Story of the River" cycle includes fish, bears, orcas and of course eagles - as well as a host of other species and concerns that together depict the cycle of nature in and around the rivers of the world. These are the lifeblood of the continents and it is our intention to bring you to an understanding of the cycle of this lifeblood through our cameras and other aspects of Hancock Wildlife Foundation. We're only just getting started. Come on along with us on this exciting adventure.

David and I have been talking quite a bit over the past weeks about a number of things, not the least of which is our need to get cameras into nests and do maintenance on the ones already there during the brief period when the eagles are gone. Much of this will depend on your donations, personal as well as corporate, and on other things in the works, but I expect that it will be a mad dash to do as much as possible with what we have for now.

In the mean time, despite the current network problem I feel confident that we'll be bringing you a full season of salmon spawning and eagle feeding in the Goldstream Estuary. Bob Chappell and Darren Copley have been working to get the underwater camera back online on the intertidal channel. In the mean time the bats will be back in the attic and with the infrared lights there those of you outside North America in timezones that are awake while the rest of us are asleep will be treated to their antics at night here.

We're also working hard to get similar cameras into a river near Vancouver where literally thousands of eagles feed in the late Fall and early Winter. By the time they start to tail off in Febrary, it will again be time to watch our birds nest-build in the nests for the new season. Bob and Darren were testing the new camera in 50' of water at the Goldstream Marina last week - passed with flying colors.

Read on for details...

In Sidney, we'll be raising the CU (closeup) camera to give it plenty of headroom for our pair to build the nest higher. Hopefully this will also put it out of the line of fire for eaglets flinging whitewash - Skye managed to get some on the glass this year. We'll also clean off the wide-angle and maybe add some more protection from rain. It doesn't usually rain quite that much in Sidney, but as you all know the storms last year were legend.

It appears we'll again have the Hornby nest too! I know how many have missed them and so does Doug Carrick. He had a second, wide-angle camera installed last year but as you may know, the November/December storms took out the cables and nobody got to see them raise their young. I understand that even Doug didn't realize there were two this year until just this past week. I'm looking forward to again visiting him and his lovely wife and getting to again know the wonderful people of Hornby. I've been so busy this year I have not had a chance to visit.

We're going to work hard at getting sound on the camera at Stanley Park on the heronry there. I'm also going to try to get the signal from this site boosted in resolution as the first of our HD offerings. We didn't do it this year because we didn't have things like Neokast to offset the higher bandwidth cost of many people viewing. Since the feed is on a Shaw Extreme cable feed we have the outbound bandwidth to easily handle 720x480 and maybe more.

Now that we have the cameras installed at Esquimalt, we can hope that the ospreys will return next year. This year they made a late appearance and didn't nest. I don't have any information on whether they created a second nest elsewhere, but there was at least one nest in the tower of a warship that won't be there next year as it has been decommissioned and taken away. These "extra" nest sites sometimes affect the other permanent ones that may be viewed as quite up to par by the birds also affected our cameras in South Delta as you'll see next.

As you may know, we put cameras in many nests last year that didn't get birds back for some reason. In the case of the South Delta nests it is likely because the local power people, whose towers the birds did nest in, were otherwise occupied fixing services due to the storms so didn't remove the new nests from the power towers nearby. The birds seem to favour the towers because they are higher and farther away from man, but they've shown that they'll use the nests in the trees when the towers are denied to them - so we're hopeful for next season.

Both of the Delta nests will be visited and any problems with the equipment looked at. It may be that we'll move/change cameras around a bit but we'll likely keep the locations for now.

The nest at the Vancouver/Aldergrove Zoo was not used this past year. The eagles built another almost a mile away. We'll visit the site and make a decision on what to do some time soon.

During our "Fledge Fest" last week David was offered the opportunity and help to put cameras in two trees in Oak Bay suburb of Victoria. Details have to be worked out but these two will provide lots of excitement as one of them is above an active fire/police station. Both produced 2 young this year.

That's just the beginning. Depending on funding and some other negotiations, we have a number of other exciting sites with both eagles and other wildlife that we're working hard to bring you.

We're also expanding our volunteer network and getting on with the business of the foundation in other areas too. These include some major reworking of the look of the web sites that our "web hackers" volunteers are working on. You might want to take a look at the "Ground Rules" posting and other comments in the discussion forum for more insight into this process. This will involve some new colors and such with more obvious definition of what the current 3 sites are all about - as well as moving some of the content between the Channel site and the main Foundation site as well as changes to the discussion forum to bring it up to a new version with lots of new features. If you have any ideas and want to help in this, please contact MJH about joining the group. Please watch for notices and announcements and if you can, step up and help us.

Richard Pitt

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