Friday, December 30, 2011

Nesting Activities

I know everyone is anxious to be able to see the live video stream of the Bald Eagles at Harrison Bay.  Trust me, no one is looking forward to that day more than I am.  We have several people working on the solution and we are confident we are heading in the right direction.  You just can't run down to Wal-Mart and pick up an Eagle Watching Kit and set it up.  It has been a learning experience to say the least but we are getting there.  Until we can get it up and running I will be archiving as much footage as I can to YouTube and posting it on the blog and website so all can enjoy.  Keep your fingers crossed and we will get there soon.  Thanks for your interest and patience.

This is a quick clip of one of last year's juvenile bald eagles returning to the nest.  It only stays for a few seconds until it sees Mom or Dad coming back to the nest.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bald Eagles Working on the Nest and Having Some Fun

The Harrison Bay Bald Eagles have been very active lately rearranging and adding to the contents of their nest.  This past Sunday was the first day that both of the eagles were seen in the nest at the same time.  She has spent a good bit of time fluffing up the pine needles from last year and he is bringing in larger sticks which she is placing around the perimeter of the nest.

I love this video clip as I think it shows that the eagles have a playful side also.  Don't worry she gets her revenge later and runs him out of the nest.

I know everyone is excited about seeing the live video feed and we are working everyday to make it happen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Eagle Cam Project Sponsors

Like most projects the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project could not exist without support and funding from some great sources.  We have been extremely fortunate that our sponsors and partners have stepped up to make this project possible.

Our major sponsors of the project are The Friends of Harrison Bay State Park and the United States Golf Association Green Section.  From the beginning these two organizations have shown great excitement about the project and how it will help to show how our golf course is a good habitat for wildlife.

It is projects like this that you find out who your true friends are.  When funding for the project became an issue my friends of the East Tennessee Golf Course Superintendents Association and friends from the MIddle Tennessee Golf Course Superintendents Association came through with a donation that helped to push the project along. The TORO Company and Smith Turf and Irrigation, our local TORO distributor, also came on board with a donation to help out the cause.

Our local utility district Volunteer Electric Cooperative also believed in the project and provided funding for the project through its local grant program.

We can not thank our sponsors and partners enough for funding and supporting the Eagle Cam Project and we hope to make it a huge success.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Camera Installation

Mitch Sivley, Assistant Golf Course Superintendent at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay did a great job of camouflaging the cameras that were to be placed in the tree.
Mitch used Leyland Cypress leaves on the cameras because the pine needles that he first tried didn't quite work out like he wanted.
Close up of the camera after being painted.  The cameras are high definition stationary cameras that have an internal heating system to keep the lens from fogging over. 
Mitch and Steve Bloom, Equipment Technician for Bear Trace, soldered wires together on the ground so they would be stronger and just wire connectors.
Mitch applied heat shrink to the wire connections to protect them from moisture and to help insure a long life of filming eagles.

With the lowest live limb on the pine tree at about 60 feet up the tree it was rather interesting trying to get a line over the limb so Angelo could feel safe to climb.  After close to two hours of us trying to throw weighted bags, using a slingshot, and trying to cast a fishing line into the tree, Harrison Bay State Park Ranger David Hobbs came to the rescue with his bow and arrow and with some monofiliment line attached to it shot it up and over the branches.
Don Campbell, Harrison Bay State Park Manager saved the day on the camera installation by calling on one of his fellow State Park Rangers to help us out.  Angelo Giansante, Hiawassee State Park Ranger, a former US Army Ranger and certified arborist came down to Harrison Bay to install the cameras for us.  Here Angelo is starting his climb up the tree.
Angelo at the nest.  Every precaution was taken not to disturb any portion of the nest.  Angelo said that the view inside of the nest was one of the coolest things he has ever seen.  We all assumed that the nest would be deep on the inside but he said it was rather flat, just a small depression.
Self photo by Angelo while up in the tree.
Photo taken by Angelo looking down from the nest.

The above photo is a picture of the entire nest which measures about 8 feet across and is about 4 feet high.  The center is slightly depressed and is lined with pine needles and grasses.  Look closely at the right side of the photo to the right and you can see one of the turtle shells that were found in the nest.  Remains of a good dinner, I guess.
Angelo did a great job of installing and securing the cameras in the proper locations to give us the best views of the nest.  One camera(the one to his right) is positioned about 5 feet above the nest to give us an overhead view and the one he is in the process of installing is off to the side of the nest to give us a sideview.
It took Angelo two days to get both of the cameras installed and all of the wiring secured and insulated.  The feed back to the maintenance building is good and we have a computer expert coming Monday to get us up and running at

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project---The Beginning

Photo by Bret Rogers
I am sure all over the world there are certain things that make a nation's citizens swell up with pride and give them a sense of joy.  For most Americans, the sight of a bald eagle flying overhead definitely does that.  Last December when a pair of bald eagles came to The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay and began building a nest we were all excited and proud.  The eagles began constructing a nest in a 75 foot tall pine tree behind one of our greens during the middle of December.  This time of year at the golf course is relatively quiet.  Although we still have golfers visiting the golf course the level of play is down and our maintenance activities on the golf course are rather limited.  Our biggest fear was that when play picked up and our daily maintenance practices ramped up that the eagles would get annoyed and leave.  Well that didn't happen and the eagles stayed all year and were not the least bit worried or disturbed by the golfers or our maintenance activities.
Photo from Norfolk Botanical Gardens Eagle Cam

It was great to see the eagles flying around the golf course and building their nest but we wondered what it would be like to be "in" the nest with them.  After looking at several eagle cams from around the country I began to question why we could not do the same project.  It has taken the past year to gather information, technical support and funding for the project but we are just about there.  Our plan is to place two high definition cameras in the tree with the eagles.  These cameras will record activity from just above the nest and from a distant side view so hopefully we do not miss a thing.  The footage will be streamed live for all interested parties to view and will give us a look into the life of a bald eagle that many have not gotten to witness before.

The project is being initially funded by The Friends of Harrison Bay State Park, the United States Golf Association Green Section, and the East Tennessee and the Middle Tennessee Golf Course Superintendents Associations.  I can not tell you how grateful I am of these organizations to come on board with the project.  It is my hope that this project will continue to show how beneficial golf courses can be and give us an up close view into the nesting habits of American Bald Eagles.

Organizational meetings for the project took place in many locations.  This meeting at a local McDonald's involved officers of the Friends of Harrison Bay, and Bret Rogers, our photographer. 

Mitch Sivley is trenching the ditch in which the conduit will be placed.
Jonathen Whittemore is cleaning our the trench before the conduit is placed into the trench.  We installed around 900 feet of conduit which will reach from the tree to the golf course maintenance building. 
Bill Greene is helping to "pull" the power and communication wires through the conduit.  This was a slow but steady process which took most of the day to accomplish. 
The next step in the project will be to install the cameras in the tree and get them hooked up to the Internet.  Once that is done and we have some footage of the eagles we will begin our live stream of the eagles on

We hope you will all enjoy the project.