I have learned that there are a number of people who are upset that we did not use the money they donated during our annual fund drive for all the items listed in David's Financial Needs Update for 2014 - 2015 above.
This is the part where I apologize. When I made my fundraising posts earlier this year, there were a couple of shortcuts I took - and a couple of things I didn't understand - and I should have done a bit more research, rather than going on what we'd done in the past.
Before I get into details - I want to say, loud and proud, that all of your donations - and mine - went to the work of Hancock Wildlife, and towards what I believe we all want - making sure the cams stream for another year.
Here's where I went astray.
In the past, David and his team have gone up into the nests each year. They often replaced one or both cams, tightened the wires, and wiped off the cobwebs and "stuff" that had accumulated on the cams. There's a cost for that - I don't know the specifics here, but think that lifts can cost as much as $1000 or more and cranes are $2000 and up (and "up" can be a lot higher at Harrison Mills - which is a very tall tree); climbers are around $1500 per day. David and Karen donate their time, but we usually have Ken and possibly others on site - and I think Ken charges $80-85/hour - and I do want to make sure that everyone knows that I think he's worth every penny and more (I'm taking my car in for service next week - and they charge $94/hour - and DJs who play CDs at weddings make $150/hour and up) - but it does add up. I don't call Ken a lot - but when I do, he is always on top of everything that's happening, and is willing to share the information with those of us who care. To get briefly poetical - he's worth his weight in rubies!
Getting back on track - I'm not a great fundraiser. Thanks to some great work by debs and elfjune, and by gemini, IrishEyes and others who helped spread the word, we did better than usual this year - but still didn't get anywhere near what was needed to keep the cams running. So I focused on the most visible part of our need - David's smiling face in a tree (or a climber, with David on the cell phone down below) - and geared my posts towards what we needed to make that happen. In my defense, those are great images - and they put a clear time frame on when we need the money. The eagles will be returning any day now, and any incursions into the nests have to happen before they return. And in the past, we've always needed more money than I could raise just for that part of the annual expenses to keep the cams running.
Fast forward to 2014. David has wanted since day 1 to have high resolution PTZ cams in all the nests - and he has that now, so there was no reason to go into most of the nests to upgrade the cams. And spending $1000 - 2000 or more to have someone remove cobwebs and wash the cam covers really isn't a good use of our limited resources. Several of the cams are a bit obscured when the sun is at a certain angle - but the nests all have more than one cam, so we can compensate for that. It never actually occurred to me to ask David if he'd be getting lifts or sending climbers into the trees - I just assumed that he would, and gee - I've known for at least 50 years that "assume" can make a non-family-friendly word out of "u" and "me" - and just didn't stop to ask about that.
That said - even though I asked for the wrong things, we sort of got what we wanted.
There are two working cams at Delta 2, one with sound and I think at least one with night vision. The other cam would need to be replaced (cost $2500+) to get sound - and that may be a targeted mission for another year, but for now - as an occasional zoomer - I like the Axis cams, and am glad that we have one of each.
There are two working cams at Harrison Mills, one with sound and both with night vision. A second mic would be good - but Harrison Mills is both the highest tree ($5000+ for a crane, and no clue about a climber) - and the farthest from David and Ken, so the most expensive to visit. And while if wishing would only make it so, I do hope they have a successful year next year - but they only laid one egg this year, and it didn't hatch. If I were a gambler, I'd want to see another successful year before investing the sort of money needed to do work on the cams there, given that they are both streaming and we usually have sound on the North cam.
There are two working cams at Lafarge, one with sound, and both able to see something at night, partly because of night vision and partly because there are a lot of security lights on site. There are some issues - but they are mostly related to the limited bandwidth there. We're hoping that the great folks at Lafarge will make a quick visit to the cam in the tree and dust it off - but once Ken has had time to visit and work on the computers, we'll have a decent view of the nest, without a major investment.
If all goes well, I think we'll have five cams at White Rock this year. It's my understanding that the cams and the climber are donated (and a huge thanks to Russ and Ellen for their support for this beautiful nest!) - but tech support is being covered by HWF, so we need to cover the expenses when Ken or other tech team members visit the site. I should note that David did take advantage of the fact that we had access to a climber to ask him to bring up a second PTZ cam - so if all goes well, we will have a very close look at the eggs and chicks next year. But that would not have happened if Russ and Ellen hadn't offered to send someone up to check up on the nest and cams.
So - being on autopilot, I focused my appeals on the need for money for cranes and climbers and visits by our tech team to the site to replace outdated cams - not thinking about the fact that our cams were all quite excellent now, and that $2000+ to apply organic Windex didn't make much sense, as a couple of months of rain might do the same thing for free.
And I did not mention the very real and ongoing costs that are incurred every time one of us posts that a cam is down, and Ken needs to log in and reboot the computer (and I know he's a great guy, so he probably doesn't even make a note of that much of the time!) - or needs to go to the site (and it costs about $600 every time Ken needs to visits a site, with a bit more for Harrison Mills, because it is so much farther away - so one visit to each nest per month = $2500 x 12 = $30,000 a year), and remove the squirrel that's take up residence in the control box - or replace the circuit breaker - or the motherboard (or fatherboard?) - or do all the things that he does so well and so quickly that we hardly know that he's spent half a day on the project, from the time he signed in until the time he was back home to check and make sure it was still streaming.
And the very real expenses that David and Karen have (and often absorb - but really shouldn't) for gas to drive 100+ kilometers to Harrison Mills, or spend time on the phone with someone somewhere discussing how to make a certain cam work the way they said it would on the web site, or whatever.
So - I didn't do my homework, and that's an amateur mistake, and I should know better - and I am sorry for that.
But - we have functioning cams in four eagle nests now (with the possibility of a fifth - but I can't talk about that, beyond assuring people that David would not have gone forward with another nest if there wasn't major sponsorship) - and every penny that was sent in is going towards keeping them streaming, and keeping the website and forum going.
Thank you all for your support - and I guarantee that I will be much more careful about assuming things in the future.