Bald eagles sightings at Thurmond Lake are plentiful this summer, despite surveys in February that found only a few of the birds.
“You’d be surprised how many are being seen,” said Ken Boyd, a conservation biologist for the Army Corps of Engineers. “We saw two adults just two weeks ago, while surveying timber stands.”
Those birds, he said, were in the lake’s Little River arm, where nesting territories have been identified in the past.
Other recent sightings have been reported at Bussey Point, Chigoe Creek, Modoc and other areas.
Some of the birds may be here temporarily during migrations, Boyd said.
“But there is also a likelihood they could have established territories here at the lake,” he said. “The things that attract them are a good food supply and good nesting territory.”
Eagle populations are expanding across much of the South, but Thurmond Lake has lost at least 60 of the birds to outbreaks of a neurological disorder, known as AVM, linked to algae and hydrilla.
Observers during an annual census Jan. 8 counted just two mature eagles and four immature birds. Eighteen eagles – four adults and 14 juveniles – were sighted in a 2012 survey.
ABOUT THOSE TROUT: After more than a month in their new home, rainbow trout placed in the Augusta Canal are surviving – and growing quite well.
“So far we’ve seen very minimal mortality,” said Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School teacher Carl Hammond-Beyer, whose students are conducting a feasibility study to determine if the canal could someday support a recreational trout fishery.
In early June, hundreds of tiny trout hatched at Warren Road Elementary School as part of a science project were placed in a specially designed underwater cage. Since then, they have been fed regularly while students monitor changes in water quality.
The fish appear to be growing rapidly, gaining a half-inch in length in the first two weeks, Hammond-Beyer said, and appeared to have larger bellies than fish from the same hatch that remained in tanks at Warren Road Elementary.
The experiment will help determine if trout can survive in the canal during July and August.
The eventual objective, Hammond-Beyer said, is to collect data to prove to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources that the canal could support trout sufficiently to allow a recreational fishery.
OUTDOOR EXPO: Few things have grown faster than the Augusta Outdoor Expo that made its debut last year at Warren Baptist Church — and has expanded to fill the James Brown Arena for its second annual event next Saturday, July 27.
Promoting recreation in the outdoors, this year’s event will have $25,000 in door prizes including two front row Guitar Pull tickets, a Bad Boy Buggies vehicle, ten lifetime hunting licenses and much more. Door prizes will be distributed at 9 p.m. This year’s guest speaker is the legendary sportsman Hank Parker, presented at 7:30 p.m.
More than 100 vendors will display and sell products. The General Lee, World Records, fishing and lure demonstrations from professional fishermen and other exhibits will also be on display.
The Augusta Outdoor Expo is presented by Augusta Outdoor Ministries, Inc., an entity set up to host the expo each year and uses any excess funds from the event for the sole mission of spreading the gospel message and promoting recreation in the outdoors.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Children under 2 are admitted free. For more information, visit www.AugustaOutdoorExpo.com.
GATOR DEADLINE: If you want a gator tag this season, the application deadline for Georgia’s quota hunts is July 31.
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, 850 applicants will be selected for the 2013 season which runs Sept. 7 through Oct. 6.
“Georgia’s alligator quota hunt is one of the most popular quota hunts we offer, attracting more than 10,000 applicants annually who compete for 850 permits,” said John Bowers, assistant chief of the Game Management Section. “We anticipate applicant rates to continue increasing for this unique hunting opportunity.”
During Georgia’s 2012 season, 850 hunters harvested 247 alligators.