Finding The Majestic Bald Eagle
If you are interested in bird watching, the Connecticut River is the place to go. With eagles, ospreys and scores of other species, enthusiasts can see them up close and personal under the guidance of the RiverQuest crew and a set of high powered binoculars provided by the staff. The RiverQuest boat has two open decks along with a heated interior with large windows to keep you comfortable when the winds get too chilly outside. The thoroughly knowledgeable staff of Captain Mark Yuknat along with his wife Mindy, and crew Scott and Cathy, provide a wealth of information related to the various species of bird, habitat and environment.
During the cruise, educational tidbits help you identify species of birds taking to the open sky. For instance, an identifying feature of eagles in flight is that their wingspan across is a straight line. With their majestic white head and straight wingspan, the eagle can be distinguished easily from turkey vultures which were very noticeable during the cruise.0
The bald eagle is the only eagle unique to North America. Its distinctive brown body and white head and tail make it easy to identify even from a distance. When flying, the bald eagle very rarely flaps its wings but soars instead, holding its wings almost completely flat. Its hooked bill, legs and feet are yellow.
The bald eagle made its majestic return to the Connecticut River after disappearing in 1948 and there are now several active eagle nests. Two of these nests are visible and passengers are able to view one or more bald eagles in flight or nesting. There are eagle cameras trained on eagles’ nests that you can watch at home to view the nesting habits that Capt. Mark’s crew so carefully educated his passengers about (www.ctriverquest.com/index.php/essentials/favorite-links-resources). During the cruise, passengers witnessed nine sightings of eagles and three active nesting areas.
Late March into early April is when ospreys return to Connecticut from their southern wintering grounds, trumpeting the long awaited return of spring.
Osprey nests dot the lower Connecticut River. Man-made nesting platforms boast lots of activity along the river, in almost-natural tree settings and on the top of each of the large navigation aids that mark the river channel. One interesting fact to note about ospreys is that they mate for life but take separate vacations. Obviously, they must be onto something.
There are 500 acres of protected lands along the Connecticut River, but there are signs of civilization impinging on the area. During the tour, several landmarks were pointed out including the Goodspeed Opera House, Gillette Castle and the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry.
Also seen on the tours are many different hawk and duck species along with fox, coyote, deer and bobcat on the riverbanks.
RiverQuest, an eco-tour vessel located at Eagle Landing State Park in the Tylerville section of Haddam, is offering several cruises to the general public to learn about the osprey and other wildlife that may be spotted, including hawks and the bald eagle. It is a wonderful way to spend two hours and learn about the environment and the world in which they thrive. For more information on these cruises go to www.ctriverquest.com or call 860-662-0577.