My enjoyment about the return of Bald Eagles on Long Island grows every time I spot one. Last week I observed two. I have been discouraged from naming specific locations. However, East End ornithologists (bird experts) know most of the locations. Sometimes they will stand below the huge nests with either binoculars or a high-powered camera or both.
I love writing about about the emergence of Long Island’s Bald Eagles. The first east end Bald Eagle I ever saw was while driving to Montauk. It happened as I passed where Cyril’s used to be, on Rte 27 where the road divides. Driving alone heading east, all of a sudden a huge Bald Eagle flew out of the dunes of Hither Hills. Flying at a very low altitude it passed across the front of my car. With its wings extended it magically glided across Route 27 and with a few flaps of its wings gained altitude. I pulled over and watched it circle a few times before disappearing heading towards Navy Beach.
An unexpected Bald Eagle spotting is almost a religious experience, as is watching whales breach off east end beaches. This past summer (2022) I observed an eagle circling over Shelter Island’s Mashomack Preserve while I was in full sail. It was a nice moment. There is something special watching a Bald Eagle glide across the sky.
Just last week I went up island to observe a Bald Eagle nest near Mill Pond and Heron Park. One never knows what you might see on such occasions. Sometimes nothing. However, this time I saw magic. It seems there were reports that Avian flu had caused the death of the male Bald Eagle there and the female was alone. Yet on that February 2023 day there were two Bald Eagles on a branch above the nest. What happened next was the essence of joy in observing nature.
One after the other the two Bald Eagles took flight in a huge circlular pattern over the trees where the nest was. At first I thought they would fly far away. Instead, they came down and low and passed by me and two other folks, one with binoculars and the other with an expensive camera. The Bald Eagles then flew across Mill Pond and landed on a low branch perhaps only twenty feet above the ground, located right next to a large home. A man with a beagle emerged from the home and stood right below the pair of Bald Eagles.
I walked to the edge of Mill Pond with the two others. After about ten minutes the pair of Eagles took off and hovered only a few feet over the pond doing, spins, rolls, changing speeds but never touching the water. It was obvious, they were mating! Flirting and having fun. Pecking at each other’s tails and doing “Top Gun” like low altitude maneuvers, many times almost hitting the water. I couldn’t take my eyes away to get out my iPhone to photograph it.
It only lasted a few intense minutes. Then they flew back to the identical low hanging branches of the home on Mill Pond that they had taken off from. A total of four folks that I know of observed this event. The reporter in me kicked in. I walked around Heron Park and arrived at the tree where the two Bald Eagles perched perhaps 20 feet above me.
The man with the beagle allowed me into the yard to see the Bald Eagles up close. He said the neighborhood was excited that a new male Bald Eagle had arrived in the last week. He said everyone is hoping for a new batch of pure Long Island eaglets later this Spring.
Last Friday my wife (Cindi) informed me that on her way to the store, less than two miles from our home, she saw a Long Island Bald Eagle. She was driving west and had to stop her car right on Montauk Highway. No one beeped a horn; all eyes were on the Bald Eagle.