Thursday, December 17 2009 @ 03:15 PM EST
Contributed by: richardpitt
It's a foggy morning on the Chehalis Estuary and looking out through our "50" camera I'm having a hard time seeing very far. In fact, it's so foggy that our radio link is suffering as the signal is lessened by too much water in the air - it has gone offline for a few seconds every now and then and the signal indication is showing very low.
But the good news is that there seems to be a larger than normal group of eagles not far from the tower - and they're feeding and brawling and making a great spectacle from time to time.
The road from installing the tower to getting these pictures and the live video out has been a long and rocky one - and it has not ended yet. On Monday two of us braved the cold and trekked out to the tower from Eagle Point to bring the fuel cell more methanol and to fix a power problem that had shown up with the cold weather. Something was causing the tower to go offline for up to 45 minutes every few hours.
In addition, one of the three cameras (#40) was locked in one position, looking down the access ladder; pretty much useless for watching eagles. This camera had been shipped to Alaska and back and appears to have suffered from the trip - we removed it and it is going in for repair.
After swapping in the new 28 litre jug of methanol I consolidated the remaining amounts in the other two jugs there and we now have one that is about 2/3 full. We're down to that and what is in the current jug - about 6 weeks of operation - then have to purchase another jug so keep those donations coming in please! The price of the methanol at this time is pretty high due to it being shipped all the way to Germany to be re-refined (must be extremely pure to run in the fuel cell) and packaged and then shipped back. Four Stones' president Dana Brown is working on getting locally packaged product OK'd by SFC so we can get it for less but for now it is over $200 for the 28 litres. This is still better than having to lug a half-dozen propane cylinders out on the frozen estuary.
The eagles have been staying away in droves - hardly any up until today. I'm betting that the other estuaries they've been feeding at are finally freezing over - and this one, the one that is usually open for the rest of the Winter, is where they'll all head to. The gathering shown in this picture is larger than I've seen in any of the times I've visited the site over the past months.
There's still fish in front of the underwater camera so there will be food for them - and there are still lots of carcasses in the waters surrounding the tower.
As I finished with the methanol, Chris, one of David Hancock's employees, got up on the top of the tower and lashed down the solar panel that had come loose in the winds a couple of weeks ago. We're lucky we didn't lose it as the two panels probably save us about 1/2 litre of methanol any day that it is sunny.
We're just about to get the control channel for the cameras set up - the modem was installed last Friday but the weather has been so bad that getting up to the pumphouse to connect it into the system has not been possible until today - ice storms and really dangerous driving conditions have kept us away. Once this additional modem is in place our volunteers will be able to control the cameras in real time and you'll see more of what is happening around the tower. Until now it has been mostly running to a set program, moving to "interesting" spots every minute or two.
Tag: chehalis eagle salmon fish fuel cell camera eagle point estuary spawning harrison